WIRE Buzz: Edgar Wright teaching a robot to love; Onward director exploring New Mushroomton; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>First up in this evening edition of WIRE Buzz, Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and The World’s End director Edgar Wright has signed on to helm Set My Heart to Five, a feature film based on an upcoming novel of the same name about a robot learning to love through the power of awesome retro movies (yeah, this definitely sounds like it’s within his wheelhouse). 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Wright will direct a script written by the novel’s author, Simon Stephenson. The book is scheduled to be published later this year.

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The story, set in 2054, follows Jared, an android dentist who, like Short Circuit’s Johnny 5, undergoes an emotional awakening after being struck by lightning introduced to films from the '80s and '90s (like Short Circuit). Jared then embarks on a quest across America’s West Coast to meet the programmer that created him, and convince humans that robots should be permitted to feel. And oh, yeah: Jared’s also working on a screenplay that he believes will change the world. 

Wright’s next film, the horror-thriller Last Night in Soho, stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin McKenzie, and Matt Smith, and is scheduled to hit theatres on Sept. 25.


Credit: Pixar/Disney

Up next, we’ve got some good news for Onward fans, who can apparently expect further entries into the world in the not-too-distant future. Dan Scanlon, who helmed the Pixar film, told Comicbook.com that more goodies set in New Mushroomton are being developed. 

First up, Scanlon co-wrote a prequel comic with Mariko Tamaki “that takes place 800 years before Onward,” and tells “the story of the Manticore during the days of old." The comic is scheduled to come out in May.

Also in development is a role-playing game — Quests of Yore — that Scanlon said will likewise “take place in the days of old.”

All of this came from Scanlon straight up falling in love with the world of the film and wanting to delve into it and explore new aspects from new angles. "Initially, the thing I cared most about was the story of the brothers, but I did fall in love with the world and I did start to fall in love with the potential of the world," said Scanlon. 

So, while fans wait for a possible Onward 2, they’ve not only got these items to look forward to in the meantime, but they can also enjoy the film itself, which is currently available to purchase on digital platforms like iTunes, Vudu, and Movies Anywhere. The film will debut on Disney+ on Friday, April 3.


And finally, the original artwork from the very first Flash Gordon comic strip was auctioned off for a record $430,000 today. The Jan. 7, 1934 debut of Alex Raymond’s iconic science fiction comic strip that served as an inspiration for George Lucas’ Star Wars (fun fact: did you know that Lucas wanted to remake Flash Gordon, but decided to make Star Wars instead when he couldn’t get the rights?) was auctioned off via Profiles in History.

Original artwork for Flash Gordon #1 by Alex Raymond (Profiles in History)

Originated in late 1933 to compete against the popular Buck Rogers strip, Flash Gordon quickly developed an audience that eclipsed its competitionThe signed pencil and ink artwork was estimated to sell between $400,000 and $600,000.

Also sold at the same auction was the original artwork for the inaugural strip of Jungle Jim, a Tarzan-like comic by Raymond as well. The piece sold for $90,000.


In the Greenland Trailer, Master of Disaster Gerard Butler Faces Down a Planet-Killing Comet @ io9

Gerard Butler’s career has been taking us on a delightfully baffling journey for years, and his next big CG-stravaganza, Greenland, just dropped a new trailer that does not disappoint. His foe this go-round is a crumbling comet that’s making fiery Swiss cheese out of the Earth. And we do mean cheese.

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Edgar Wright May Direct a Pop Culture-Infused Robot Movie and We're Freaking Out @ io9

Any day there’s news of a new Edgar Wright film, that’s a good day. When that news is Wright will direct a movie about a robot who becomes so inspired by movies of the 1980s and ‘90s he goes on a quest to convince the world of robot humanity, that’s not just a good day, it’s off the freakin’ chain!

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The Coronavirus Outbreak Has Put the Comics Industry Between a Rock and a Hard Place @ io9

More and more comic book stores across the United States are having to close their doors because of the ongoing covid-19 outbreak—whether that’s due to state restrictions or an actual lack of new product. One of the biggest questions looming has been what, if any, steps publishers and distributors like Diamond might…

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Venom's guide to parenting @ Syfy Wire

1p>Venom is truly one of Marvel’s best power couples, and I mean that with all my heart. It’s a symbiotic relationship by nature, but true love by nurture. Sure, there was a time when Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiote wanted desperately to kill Spider-Man, and, arguably, Spidey probably deserved the hate because he couldn’t mind his business. In Mike Costa's Venom: First Host, however, the duo are now parents — and damn good ones at that. There is much to learn and admire from Marvel-616's parental couple of the century.

A moment most pleasing to me happens in the first issue: Venom stops a thief from holding up a bodega. Venom does so by eating the would-be thief, of course. Afterward, Venom apologizes to the mom and her young child, who were present, reassuring the mom that she’s a good parent. How do they know that? Because they’re good parents themselves. There was something sincerely endearing about this moment. It's very true to who Venom is: an antihero who means well even if they don’t always have the best execution. No one truly knows what they’re doing, but what matters is that they're trying to do the best they can by the lives that the universe has entrusted to them. That’s something that resonates with me as a parent — fictional space alien or not.

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Credit: Venom: First Host #1/Marvel Comics

It's established right away in this series that Venom is taking this responsibility to heart. Their offspring might be in a state-of-the-art fish tank of sorts, but it doesn't stop them from bonding, nurturing, and protecting it. When prompted to permit pharmaceutical applications, they vehemently refuse anything of the sort, stating that their offspring is too young to be experimented on, that it’s not old enough to experience something like that or even understand what is happening to it. Parents are supposed to be advocates for their children, especially when the child is too young to fend for themselves.

Credit: Venom: First Host #1/Marvel Comics

There have been plenty of times I’ve had to do the very same thing for my own child, but with more mundane stuff like scheduling doctor’s appointments or explaining to a family member that my child doesn’t feel like hugging them. No matter how old they get, I’ll be advocating for my child until I no longer can. Harry Osborn of all people gives Eddie some reassurance about parenting when he tells him, "Having a kid to take care of... it’ll make you scared. More scared than you’ve ever been…but it’ll make you better. And when people come and bring danger — God help them. Because it’ll make you stronger too."

As far as I’m concerned, no lies were told.

Venom experiences several stages of parenthood through the coarse of the five-issue series. And no matter what, protecting their progeny is their top priority — even from a crazed Kree hell-bent on finishing a years-old mission. This same Kree, Tel-Kar, is also the first host the Venom symbiote had. When he threatens to harm their child, Venom agrees to go with him. It's then time for the baby Venom, Sleeper, to show everyone — including its parents — what it’s capable of by helping save the Venom symbiote and Earth. Eddie learns their child is not only adept at this whole hero schtick, but they’re also ready to leave home, and that’s all thanks to the care it received from him and Venom.

After Sleeper saves humanity from extinction, it’s ready to go off and see the rest of the world, causing both Eddie and his symbiote partner to experience an empty nest. The heartbreak they both feel for wanting what they felt like would be a better life for Sleeper is sweet and relatable. Most parents want their children to have experiences better than their own. What that means varies from person to person, but for Venom, it meant their child choosing not to lobotomize Tel-Kar and wearing him like a husk. They eventually resign themselves to the fact that they did the best they could and that what matters is that their child is free of anyone’s control for now, and at the end of the day, they can be happy with that outcome.

Credit: Venom: First Host #1/Marvel Comics

Children, space monsters included, are individuals who will have their own wants and desires, many of which won’t always align with what you wanted for them. But that’s OK. As Venom learns, and as I continue to understand, the important thing is that you did the best you could, and as a result, your child felt confident enough to go out and seek their purpose in life.

Friday the 13th Unleashes Terror and Thanos Gets a Love Letter in the Latest Gaming News @ io9

Welcome back to Gaming Shelf, io9's column all about board games and tabletop roleplaying games. It’s now been a couple of weeks since social distancing started, making at-home game nights feel more important than ever. We’ve got some suggestions on things to play at home, as well as some upcoming releases that take

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James Tynion IV breaks down Punchline, the Designer's video game origins, and 'Joker War' @ Syfy Wire

1p>After years of playing on the edges of the Batman universe, writing titles like Detective Comics, Justice League, and Batman Eternal, James Tynion IV has been given the keys to the kingdom as he continues his exciting run on Batman. But it’s been Tynion’s new villains who are stealing the spotlight this time; anticipation has built in the past few weeks as comics fans wait to snap up the debut of two new baddies, Punchline and The Designer. Even before copies of Batman #89 and Hell Arisen #3 (Punchline’s first appearance) were available to the public, they were going at an average of 10 times the cover price online.

For Tynion and DC Comics, it’s a huge win in the ultra-competitive comic book market and speaks to fans’ hunger for new characters. In a chat with SYFY WIRE, Tynion says seeing the reaction to his new characters has been humbling and justifying. He also shared his future plans for Batman, gave SYFY WIRE an inside look at creating new villains, and spoke about the next story he’s been dying to tell, "Joker War."

“I'd co-written stories in the main Batman title before but I'd never been in the driver's seat of the Batmobile. That is a total game-changer. Honestly, it continues to be an incredibly intimidating and humbling place to be,” Tynion says. “ Not only is this book important for DC Comics, but it's also the book that the entire Batman universe sort of hinges on. All of the supporting cast, all the Batfamily books all radiate out of that center. And you need that strong center to lift all of the books.”

Batman #92. Credit: DC Comics

DC Comics announced Tynion would be taking over for former Batman writer Tom King on Batman Day (July 23, the anniversary of his first appearance) last September. Since then, Tynion says, he’s been gearing up and planting seeds for his run, which started with Batman #86. Initially, the book was going to move to a monthly release, but as the decision came down to remain a double-shipped book, Tynion says it actually created a lot more opportunity for him.

“Because when you're operating at double ship schedule, you can kind of take some side paths on your way to telling a bigger story. So that helps support a cast of characters, which easily I love doing,” he explains. “In the sense that I used the Batfamily in my run on Detective, I wanted to use the villains of Gotham as sort of the supporting cast for this one.”

As expected with a flagship book like Batman, DC Comics has put some of its best artists forward. While Tony Daniel (Batman #86), Guillem March (Batman #87-89), and current artist Jorge Jimenez (Batman #90-91) have been helping Tynion flesh out his ideas, it’s been Jimenez (Justice League, Super Sons) who has had the biggest hand in creating the newest iteration of Gotham City, through its new villains. Tynion describes their creative relationship as comfortable, exciting, and energetic.

Batman #90. Credit: DC Comics

“I think Jorge is one of the preeminent artists of this moment in comics," Tynion says. "He taps into this energy that I really appreciate. I broke into this industry very young and started writing comics in my early 20s and now I'm in my early 30s and Jorge is roughly the same age as me."

He continues: "So, it's really, really nice to bring in the same frames of reference. We were around the same age when the manga boom happened and that changed how comic readers interact with the world. We grew up with the same video games, we grew up with the same cartoons. Just having that similar frame of reference gives us a shorthand that we can work with and develop stuff that feels of this moment.”

Tynion and Jimenez took different paths in creating the Designer and Punchline, who debuted in the opening Batman arc “Their Dark Designs.” According to the author, elements of the Designer had been stewing for a long time, back to his Batman Eternal days, while Punchline was created out of necessity.

“Going back to working on Batman Eternal, there were a lot of little side ideas that I would have about a Batman character or villain that didn't fit in the narrative I was doing and it would just be like 'OK, this isn't a full idea yet, but it could be a seed for an idea,'" Tynion says. “The Designer was one of those things. Just the idea of a character who was conscious of the way that villains evolve over time.

"As readers, we're very conscious of the fact that the first time Joker or a number of other characters show up, they're kind of gimmick villains," he explains. "They’re either trying to rob something or accomplish a very singular goal. But, over time, they become more reflections of the hero and their crimes escalate, one after the other, to the point where they're these larger-than-life villains.”

The Designer, Tynion says, is essentially the idea of making an exponential leap, becoming the villain you're going to be 10 years from now, today, as a way to overcome your hero in the moment. As for the design of The Designer, Tynion suggested the character be a blend of video game villains.

“I wanted him to look like he's a character from another story, another type of genre of comics melting into this one," he explains. "I think I described him as a 'Imagine if there was a Final Fantasy, Silent Hill, Metal Gear Solid crossover and the villain of that story was the literal devil. I think Jorge delivered.”

Batman #93. Credit: DC Comics

Punchline was a different story. According to Tynion, the idea sprouted from the back-up stories starting in Batman #85. More recently in DC Comics, the Joker has been a creeping figure in the shadows, but Tynion says he wanted to bring back the Joker’s gang. Since Harley Quinn and the Joker are currently “estranged,” that left an opportunity for Tynion.

“As I was building this story I realized that I need Joker to have a number two. I need to have him have a henchman that can tell all of the others what to do," he says. "As I was thinking of who that character could be, I had a few ideas. There were a couple of pitches I had a year or so back about a character inspired by the Joker and I sort of molded all those things together into a description that we then sent to Jorge."

With Punchline, Tynion says, he wanted her to be the opposite of Harley Quinn in every way. While Harley is “brash, loud, and a little old school vaudeville, a bit more roller derby," he wanted Punchline to be a “slinking, quiet, deadly character."

“If Harley is a guffaw, Punchline is a quiet, creepy grin," he explains. "If you imagine the angel and the devil on the Joker's shoulders, Harley is the angel that saw the best in the Joker and saw something human there and Punchline sees all the dark potential for the Joker and she is in love with that aspect of him."

Batman #93. Credit: DC Comics

And then Jimenez stepped in.

“Once we saw her, my editor and I, Ben Abernathy, were just like 'I think we have fire in our hands.' We've got something really, really cool that people are going to enjoy,” he adds. “That's when we started to make the decision about how we feed her into the book. We knew that she was going to play into the first storyline, 'Their Dark Designs,' but we knew that would pay off in 'Joker War,' where she would be one of the primary antagonists of that story.”

With the fanatical response to Punchline, Tynion says he’s happy to receive support but points out he never likes hearing that “someone who wants to read a comic, and actually sit down and read a comic, can't get that comic.” That said, he thinks many fans may have taken the change after Tom King’s run as a place to take a break.

“I don’t want to say that they weren’t expecting much, but I think people saw it as a moment to step back and reassess what's happening in the line and I think it caught people off guard a bit,” he admits. "I am happy that we had this idea that has seemed to connect and that people have got excited about it. The support that the readers are showing the series is giving me more room to play. It helps show the company 'Hey, the things I was pitching on paper are exciting to the people around.'"

That excitement seems to be building, which is perfect, Tynion says, because it leads into the big story he’s been dying to tell: "Joker War." So, why another Joker story?

Batman #93. Credit: DC Comics

“What's new is new characters, like Punchline and someone I've hinted at, but can't talk too much about, is Clownhunter. These characters are new characters I wanted to inject into the Batman/Joker dynamic to shake it up and allow me to explore it from a few different angles,” he says. “With both Punchline and Clownhunter, they're both kinds of sections of how Gotham itself reacts to the idea of the Joker existing. This is someone who has almost killed the city multiple times; he's larger than life in terms [of] Gotham in the same way Batman is. Everyone in Gotham City has an opinion on who and what the Joker is and who and what Batman is.”

On the heels of King’s Batman run, Tynion has had to also adapt to a new world for the Caped Crusader. Not only are Batman and Catwoman a couple now, but Alfred is dead and the Batcave is no more. Now operating out of the bunker underneath Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne has turned to Lucius Fox to pick up the slack. That’s led to a whole new batch of angles, Tynion says.

“Being able to bring in Lucius was great. Most of Lucius' solutions to problems are tech-based because that's how Lucius works. I'm literally on my computer putting some final touches on a scene where Lucius has to deal with the fallout,” he says. “Lucius isn't a trained field surgeon like Alfred was, that's not part of his skill set. So, all of a sudden, we're going to have to see where he doesn't live up to the pure ideal that was Alfred. On top of that, he's been neglecting his role as Wayne Enterprises CEO, which is another very important job that needs doing.”

Batman #93. Credit: DC Comics

Tynion says everything he’s put into the story is an element that will pay off down the road. The idea of the machinery beneath Wayne Enterprises? Tynion says he had that idea because he knew how it would be twisted and used against Batman.

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“That's the thing. I want people to feel the propulsive quality of the title. We are planting seeds and the things you're reading right now will pay off in summer then set up things that will pay off later in the year. I want to keep readers engaged in reading,” he explains. “Comics are expensive, especially when they're coming out twice a month and if you're going to give me effectively $10 a month, I'm going to give you enough story and cool ideas to make it worth it. That was a guiding concept when I was back on Detective. That's still the guiding principle.”


Tales From the Loop's Showrunner on How Sci-Fi Can Bring Us Comfort in Uncertain Times @ io9

Amazon’s new series Tales From the Loop was a unique creative challenge. Instead of adapting a book like Game of Thrones or His Dark Materials, showrunner Nathaniel Halpern was making a series out of paintings. Specifically, the Tales From the Loop artbook from Simon Stålenhag. Luckily for Halpern, he was “uniquely…

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WIRE Buzz: AMC hopes to reopen in June; Spielberg movie club; fan-made Lando trilogy @ Syfy Wire

1p>As the news fills with studios pulling films from the summer schedule and productions being waylaid by the coronavirus, one studio chain is looking into the future with relative optimism. Streaming has taken so much business that the traditional movie distribution model has already begun to shift, so it's no wonder that these companies are looking for bright spots in the world's post-pandemic return.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, AMC is looking for American movie theaters to reopen sometime in the summer — hopefully mid-June. AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron forecasts as much, telling CNBC's Squawk Alley on Tuesday that they "expected to be shut for six to 12 weeks. That would be May 1 to mid-June. That might be more the right timing." While Aron was clear that this was just a prediction, he remained positive that when quarantines and social distancing guidelines lightened, moviegoers would return and — one would hope — allow the theater giant to rehire much of its furloughed workforce.

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"I think if we learned anything in the last two weeks is people just so want to get out of their houses," Aron said. "I think we’re all feeling cooped up and want to get out and have life return to normal." Other theatrical chains, including Canada's Cineplex, have not yet commented on when they could possibly return to business as normal.


Next, leave it to a master of American cinema to provide a classic haven for film fans stuck at home thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Steven Spielberg, the director behind so many classic movies that they'd take up the rest of the article if listed, has teamed up with the American Film Institute to bring movie lovers together during the time of social distancing.

Spielberg unveiled the AFI Movie Club in a video on Tuesday, explaining that anyone that loves movies is already a member. The club is organized around a virtual group screening of a classic movie — starting with 1939 Oscar-winner The Wizard of Oz — gathered here each day by a new guest host.

Take a look:

“I know you think you’ve seen it, but please think again because right now at this moment in our history what better message is there then ‘There’s no place like home?’” asked Spielberg.

The Wizard of Oz and future screenings will include trivia, discussion points, and more on the AFI website.


Finally, being stuck at home has inspired some genre fans to unprecedented levels of creativity. Some make fan art, some perfect cosplays, and some invent entire Star Wars trilogies (and posters for each film) centering around Lando Calrissian.

The latter case is exactly what illustrator Peter Stults did, making Billy Dee Williams the sci-fi star he was always destined to be in throwback badassery of The Calrissian Chronicles.

Check it out:

With a series of new love interests, new adventures, and new aliens, The Calrissian Chronicles look totally awesome. Han and Chewie even show up! At this point, even with Williams' return to the franchise in The Rise of Skywalker, these adventures are best left to young Lando AKA Donald Glover. Can this please be how the Solo universe continues?

10 Genre Road Trip Movies to Satisfy Your Need to Get Out @ io9

Practicing social distancing means doing everything you can to minimize the need to physically leave your house so as to avoid exposure to/transmission of the novel coronavirus. Being cooped up, though, can lead one to feeling the need to wander out into the open world. The problem is, that’s not in the public’s best…

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Catwoman and the case for decriminalization of sex work @ Syfy Wire

1p>With Batman: Year One, Bruce Wayne received a new, fleshed-out origin, but he wasn’t the only one. Selina Kyle also got a fresh backstory detailing her journey to becoming Catwoman. In the new iteration of Selina’s story, she was a sex worker who had bonded with and strove to protect other women.

This makes Selina one of the most prominent comic characters with a canonical history of sex work. Perhaps more importantly, she generally isn’t criminalized for it, which is a huge deal. Over time, she goes to some effort to reinvent herself as an elegant cat thief and antihero, yet she is never so far removed from her old life that she forgets it. Indeed, Catwoman provides significant support and fiscal alternatives to her old friend Holly, making her story one of the most effective cases for the decriminalization of sex work in comics.

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Batman: Year One, written by Frank Miller, art by David Marzzucchelli and Richmond Lewis, lettering by Ted Klein

Before Year One, there was little in the way of canonical background for Selina Kyle. Besides her overriding interest in cat-themed heists, we simply didn’t know a lot about her. Initially a one-dimensional femme fatale, Catwoman underwent a series of costume changes before ultimately being defined as the complicated protector of the voiceless. However, much of her story entails the use of stereotypes to convey this message, and decriminalization takes a backseat to revenge against pimps.

Meanwhile, Catwoman’s story often references the institutionalized abuse against sex workers at the hands of some police officers that comes up so often in the argument for decriminalization. Without the ability to leverage the legal system against sex workers, it is believed that much of their mistreatment by police would end. Though these stories tend to agree that these abuses are a problem, they seldom illustrate what that means or how to end it beyond this basic acknowledgment.

Catwoman: Secret Files & Origins, written by Ed Brubaker, art by Michael Avon Cheming, Mike Manley, and Tom McCraw, lettering by Sean Konot

For instance, in Catwoman: Her Sister’s Keeper, writer Mindy Newell opens the first issue with a police officer saying something incredibly callous about Selina, who lies beaten on the sidewalk. When we discover the violence was perpetrated by her pimp, Stan, it is a police officer who puts her in contact with Ted Grant, who teaches her self-defense and how to fight. In this story, the police are a foil, but they are working on the side of justice and there is no question they are there to help Selina. While many Catwoman comics address police complacency toward violence against sex workers, they may never fully confront the complicity that makes decriminalization so necessary.

Her Sister’s Keeper explores Catwoman’s protective urges over the young Holly Robinson, who is excessively abused throughout the story but seems unable or unwilling to fully confront the realities of her situation. In the end, Catwoman’s solution for Holly is simply to drop her off at a convent with her sister, a nun. This doesn’t take, but, intentionally or not, it does portray some of the absurdity of commonly suggested "solutions" for ending violence against sex workers. Decriminalization, however, offers concrete plans for people like Holly. If standard worker protections were in place, Holly would be able to form plans, which likely would not involve simply being dropped off in a literal nunnery to work her problems out for herself.

Catwoman: Her Sister's Keeper, written by Mindy Newell, art by Joe Brozowski, Michael Bair, and Adrienne Roy, lettering by Carrie Spiegle

Catwoman’s entire reason for existing was retconned in Catwoman Volume 3 to be about her desire to protect the people that the police would not protect. Her primary focus became the protection of other women after reuniting with Holly. Still, this story entails the existence of a serial killer who targets sex workers, and therefore once again entails that many crucial scenes involve the violent murders of these women.

Catwoman is disappointed in Holly for going back into sex work despite having made no attempts to check up on her after the events of Her Sister’s Keeper. This is a bizarrely moralistic stance for a character who has always been known for operating in an ethically gray zone. While this story addresses the bad treatment of sex workers by law enforcement and shows Catwoman offering stable financial alternatives to Holly instead of her prior solution of literally just dropping her off at a convent, the solution to violence against Holly presented therein is still essentially that she must stop being a sex worker to avoid bad situations. By pointing to them to change their lives rather than emphasizing the more glaring fact that a violent killer is given endless access to them as a direct result of our society’s criminalization of their profession, the message of empowerment, while well-intentioned, can come across muddled.

There is little doubt that Selina Kyle, who was trapped in an abusive relationship with a pimp as a direct result of the criminalization of sex work and who helps other women flee from abusive situations, would be all for decriminalization. Many fans have conflicting feelings on the storyline that introduced this element of Catwoman’s past and how it has been handled, but one thing is for certain — showing prominent characters in fiction who have been sex workers and who are not criminalized or victimized for it can be incredibly useful in destigmatizing sex work, and Selina Kyle is the character who comes the closest to succeeding in that portrayal.

From Quibi to Future Man: All the genre TV & movies coming to streaming in April 2020 @ Syfy Wire

1p>Another month, another streaming service. Fresh off the launches of new streamers like Apple TV+ and Disney+, niche service Quibi is making its debut in April. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of stuff to check out on all those other services, too, as we all make the best of our self-quarantine.

Quibi is a bit light on straight-up genre fare with its launch projects, though several are in the action/thriller vein and feature plenty of genre heavy hitters (we’re looking at you, Game of ThronesSophie Turner). Netflix is launching the buzzy new animated sci-fi series The Midnight Gospel, plus beefing up its catalog with The Matrix trilogy. Geeky favorites like Mortal Kombat, the full run of genre-friendly comedy Community (which Netflix will now share with Hulu), and Killer Klowns From Outer Space will also be rolling in.

DC Universe is also dropping a biggie, with Season 2 of the hilarious animated series Harley Quinn making its debut. Hulu is kicking off the third and final season of R-rated sci-fi action comedy Future Man and also bringing the 2002 superhero flick Spider-Man to streaming (a great film to revisit a few Peter Parkers down the line). The service will also have Season 2 of FX cult hit What We Do in the Shadows once it kicks off. Disney+ continues to add to its catalog, adding National Treasure and a few more new episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Warsfinal season.

Amazon Prime also has its contemplative new sci-fi series Tales From the Loop, along with the indie psychological thriller The Lighthouse. If you’re looking for something a bit more slasher-y, Shudder is dropping a ton of Friday the 13th content, including the classic films and some fascinating documentaries framed around the history of the franchise.

Check out the full list and get your queues updated and ready to roll.

NETFLIX

HIGHLIGHTS

The Midnight Gospel (Netflix Original): If you’re looking for a new, weird animated series to love, this could certainly fit the bill. This series, from Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward and comedian Duncan Trussell, focuses on a “spacecaster” who sets off across the multiverse to chat with folks from dying worlds. It looks positively bonkers in all the right ways.

 

The Matrix Trilogy: Production on the fourth film might be stalled due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s still a great time to revisit the sci-fi action trilogy that started it all. Don’t ever doubt the power of the Keanu Renaissance — plus “Bullet Time” is still just as cool as ever.

Extraction: It’s not straight-up sci-fi, but hey, it features most of your favorite sci-fi stars and creatives, and looks to be action-packed. So we’ll give it a nod. This flick was written by Joe Russo (you know, half of the team behind all those Avengers flicks) and stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and David Harbour (Stranger Things). The story is a black-market mercenary thing with a whole lot of explosions and action. So it could definitely have some crossover appeal.

April 1
Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke (1978)
Community: Season 1-6
Deep Impact (1998)
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
Minority Report (2002)
Mortal Kombat (1995)
Pokémon the Series: Sun & Moon: S3: Sun & Moon – Ultra Legends
Road to Perdition
(2002)
Salt (2010)
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
The Social Network (2010)

April 3
Spirit Riding Free: Riding Academy (Netflix Family)
StarBeam (Netflix Family)

April 9
Hi Score Girl: Season 2 (Netflix Anime)

April 10
The Main Event (Netflix Film)

April 15
Outer Banks (Netflix Original)

April 16
Despicable Me (2010)
Jem and the Holograms (2015)

April 17
The Last Kids on Earth: Book 2 (Netflix Family)

April 18
The Green Hornet (2011)

April 20
The Midnight Gospel (Netflix Original)
The Vatican Tapes (2015)

April 21
Bleach: The Assault
Bleach: The Bount


April 22
Absurd Planet (Netflix Original)
The Willoughbys (Netflix Film)

April 24
Extraction (Netflix Film)
Hello Ninja: Season 2 (Netflix Family)

April 25
Django Unchained (2012)

April 26
The Last Kingdom: Season 4 (Netflix Original)

April 27
Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

April 30
Drifting Dragons (Netflix Anime)


QUIBI

The latest entry in the streaming wars has arrived. April brings us the intriguing launch of Quibi, a streaming service based around mobile viewing with short “quick bite” episodes designed for watching in free moments. So basically, TV shows with episodes just a few minutes long, or movies chopped up into mini-chapters. A lot of the programming is news/entertainment/reality TV stuff, but there are a couple of A-list projects with some genre appeal.

The service launches on April 6. Here are the three debut projects that could be of interest:

Most Dangerous Game: Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games) stars in this action-thriller about a man who agrees to be hunted (you know, the dangerous game) to set up financial support for his family. The production values and cast certainly look A-list, and the action genre definitely could be well suited to the chopped-up mini-episode approach.

Survive: Fan-favorite Game of Thrones and X-Men star Sophie Turner headlines in this project, which casts her as the victim of a remote plane crash fighting to survive in the wilderness. She’s joined by Corey Hawkins (Kong: Skull Island, 24: Legacy). Scoring Turner is a major “get,” no doubt, and it stands to reason a few Thrones fans might check it out just to see what she’s up to next.

Murder House Flip: Yeah, we’ve reached peak craziness in the house flip genre. Quibi’s spin on the tried and true formula takes a more horrific turn, looking to renovate and revamp literal murder houses (you know, the places where people were killed) and trying to turn them into chic new pads. Out with the blood, in with the bourgeois?


HULU

HIGHLIGHTS

Future Man: Complete Final Season - Season 3: The sci-fi time-travel action-comedy returns for its third and final season. The show is basically an R-rated spin on The Last Starfighter, and it’s a hilariously bloody romp. The final season finds our heroes on the run through all of time and trying to right a few wrongs along the way.

What We Do in the Shadows: Season 2 Premiere (FX): One of the weirdest, funniest series of last season returns with a new season of blood-sucking hilarity. The Taika Waititi-fied series follows vampire roommates just trying to make a life (afterlife?) for themselves in New York City.

Spider-Man (2002): Believe it or not, it’s been a while since Sam Raimi’s OG Spidey flick has been available on streaming. Sure, we all love Tom Holland’s modern-day Peter Parker, but there’s something nostalgic and glorious in going back to the story that made Spider-Man a blockbuster superhero and set the stage for all the sequels and reboots to come.

April 1
Kabukicho Sherlock: Complete Season 1 (DUBBED) (Funimation)
Forged in Fire: Complete Season 6 (History)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
The Book Of Eli (2010)
Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who (2008)
Get Smart (2008)
Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)
Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Let Me In (2010)
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008)
Misery (1990)
Romancing the Stone (1984)
Spider-Man (2002)
The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2008)
Zombieland (2009)

April 3
Future Man: Complete Final Season: Season 3 (Hulu)
Siren: Season 3 Premiere (Freeform)

April 6
Too Cautious Hero: Complete Season 1 (DUBBED) (Funimation)

April 7
No Guns Life: Complete Season 1 (DUBBED) (Funimation)

April 8
Parasite (2019)

April 9
Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life: Complete Season 2a (DUBBED) (Funimation)

April 12
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Complete Season 9B (Discovery Family)
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic en Español: Complete Season 9B (Discovery Family)

April 16
What We Do in the Shadows: Season 2 Premiere (FX)

April 20
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

April 22
Special-7: Complete Season 1 (DUBBED) (Funimation)

April 24
Abominable (2019)


DISNEY+

HIGHLIGHTS

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (New Episodes): The final season of Clone Wars is already blowing fans' minds, and the new episodes will continue to roll out this month. From the return of Ahsoka Tano to wrapping up long-simmering storylines, this final run of episodes is packing plenty of punches.

National Treasure: It’s basically Indiana Jones with about 150 percent more Nic Cage. The wild adventure to find a hidden treasure (complete with a thrilling caper to steal the Declaration of Independence) is still just as fun as ever. And who knows? Maybe if National Treasure can find some fresh streaming love, it might get Disney fired up to make that long-rumored sequel?

April 1
Dr. Dolittle

April 3
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 707 - "Dangerous Debt"
One Day At Disney Episode 118 - "Patti Murin: Frozen Musical, Broadway"

April 10
Playtime with Puppy Dog Pals (Season 1)
Running Wild with Bear Grylls (Season 5)
Tut's Treasures: Hidden Secrets (Season 1)
A Celebration of the Music from Coco (Special) (Premiere)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 708 - "Together Again"
Disney Family Sundays Episode 119 - "Minnie Mouse: Kite"

April 12
PJ Masks (Season 3)

April 17
Let's Stick Together Mickey and the Roadster Racers: Nutty Tales (Seasons 1-2)
Pluto's Purchase (1984)
The Incredible Dr. Pol (Season 16)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 709 - "Old Friends Not Forgotten"
Disney Family Sundays Episode 124 - "Finding Nemo: Terrarium"

April 23
Disney Rapunzel's Tangled Adventure (Season 3)

April 24
Man in Space (1955)
Mars and Beyond (1957)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 710 - "The Phantom Apprentice"
Disney Family Sundays Episode 125 - "WALL•E: Recycling Container"
One Day At Disney Episode 121 - "Tia Kratter: Pixar University"

April 30
National Treasure (2004)


DC UNIVERSE

Harley Quinn (Season 2): The first season of this hilarious F-bomb-loaded animated series has proven to be one of DC Universe’s biggest critical hits, and now it’s back for even more insanity with Harley and the gang.

Justice League (Animated Films): As if Harley’s next set of adventures weren't enough, DC Universe is also adding a boatload of animated Justice League flicks. Highlights include Gods and Monsters, The Flashpoint Paradox, and Justice League vs. Teen Titans.

April 1
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011)
Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)
Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015)
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)
Justice League: War (2014)
Justice League: Doom (2012)
Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2015)
Justice League vs. Teen Titans (2016)

April 3
Harley Quinn, “New Gotham”

April 10
Harley Quinn, “Riddle U”

April 17
Harley Quinn, “Trapped”

April 24
Harley Quinn, “Thawing Hearts”


SHUDDER

HIGHLIGHTS

Cursed Films: This five-part documentary series digs into “cursed” productions of classic horror films, spotlighting things like behind-the-scenes accidents and freaky rumors that have surrounded projects like The Omen and Poltergeist over the years. This doc series tracks down original cast and crew members to dig into those scary stories to figure out if there’s any truth to it all. Some A-listers being interviewed include Richard Donner, Linda Blair, Kane Hodder, and a whole lot more.

The Friday the 13th Collection: Shudder is also spending the month digging into legendary horror icon Jason. That means eight classic Friday the 13th flicks, plus documentaries looking back at the legacy of the character and franchise. The two docs are Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th and Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini. The film line-up hitting this month includes Friday the 13th, Part 2, Part III, The Final Chapter, A New Beginning, Part VI: Jason Lives, Part VII: The New Blood, and Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.

April 1
The Friday the 13th Collection
The Exorcist
(1973)

April 2
Cursed Films - Episode 1: “The Exorcist”

April 3
Halfway to Halloween Hotline

April 6
Haunters: The Art of the Scare (2017)
Tales of Halloween (2015)

April 9
Cursed Films - Episode 2: “The Omen”
Cursed Films - Episode 3: “Poltergeist”

April 10
Halfway to Halloween Hotline

April 13
Absentia (2017)
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988)
We Are What We Are (2013)

April 16
Cursed Films - Episode 3: “Twilight Zone: The Movie”
Cursed Films - Episode 4: “The Crow”

April 17
Halfway to Halloween Hotline

April 20
Extremity (2018)
Voice From the Stone (2017)

April 23
0.0Mhz (2019)

April 24
The Last Drive-In With Joe Bob Briggs: Season 2
Halfway to Halloween Hotline

April 27
The Siren (2019)
To Hell and Back: The Kane Hodder Story (2017)

April 30
Wolf Creek: Season 2


AMAZON PRIME

HIGHLIGHTS

Tales From the Loop: This could be an intriguing one, hailing from Planet of the Apes mastermind Matt Reeves. The show follows a town that's built above a machine designed to explore the mysteries of the universe. That connection means literally anything is possible in the town, so think Eureka but more serious and poignant, maybe? The cast includes Rebecca Hall (The Town), Paul Schneider (Parks and Recreation), and Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones).

The Lighthouse: Before he was Batman, he was going crazy in a lighthouse. The buzzy psychological horror flick The Lighthouse, starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, lands on Amazon Prime to freak us all out. The film was an indie darling, garnering plenty of buzz along the way.

April 1
Die Another Day (4K UHD) (2002)
Dr. No (4K UHD) (1962)
For Your Eyes Only (4K UHD) (1981)
From Russia with Love (4K UHD) (1964)
Gods And Monsters (1999)
Goldeneye (4K UHD) (1995)
Goldfinger (4K UHD) (1964)
Hotel Artemis (2018)
I Am Legend (2007)
Licence to Kill (4K UHD) (1989)
Live and Let Die (4K UHD) (1973)
Mark Of Zorro (1920)
Moonraker (4K UHD) (1979)
Never Say Never Again (4K UHD) (1983)
Octopussy (4K UHD) (1983)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (4K UHD) (1969)
Tarzan The Fearless (1933)
The Brothers Grimm (2005)
The Lost World (1925)
The Man with the Golden Gun (4K UHD) (1974)
The New Adventures Of Tarzan (1935)
The Spy Who Loved Me (4K UHD) (1977)
The World is Not Enough (4K UHD) (1999)
Thunderball (4K UHD) (1965)
Tomorrow Never Dies (4K UHD) (1997)
You Only Live Twice (4K UHD) (1967)

April 3
Tales from the Loop - Amazon Original series: Season 1

April 10
Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

April 16
The Lighthouse (2019)

April 17
Dino Dana - Amazon Original series: Season 3B

April 20
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)


Apple TV+

The Apple genre line-up is fairly thin this month, though the debut season of the Amazing Stories reboot is still fresh. Beyond that, the service still has the first seasons of Servant, For All Mankind, and SEE to check out (if you haven't already).

First look: Batman: The Animated Series lives on in DC Comics' new Batman series @ Syfy Wire

1p>Spawned from the world of Batman: The Animated Series and its triumphant, Emmy Award-winning run from 1992 to 1995, DC Comics is dipping back into the nostalgic well of that pioneering show that redefined the way the Dark Knight was interpreted in an invigorating six-issue miniseries — and SYFY WIRE is delivering a first look at the premiere issue alongside comments from its stellar creative team.

To fuel this revival, DC has gathered the visionary minds of Paul Dini and Alan Burnett, the same imaginative forces behind Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond and those iconic shows' stylish, neo-noir aesthetics. 

Matched with this dynamic writing duo is artist Ty Templeton, who has recreated the instantly recognizable design work of Bruce Timm, just as he first accomplished back in 1992 with Batman Adventures #1.  Colorist Monica Kubina brings a vivid palette of varied hues to accent Templeton's pencils.

Credit: DC Comics

These fresh Bat tales start unspooling from this seminal Dark Deco world on April 1 with the initial two digital chapters found on ReadDC and ComiXology. Subsequent online issues will roll out bi-weekly until the series is scheduled to come available in print beginning May 6.

Batman: The Adventures Continue #1 kicks off when Gotham City's Wayne Enterprises is attacked and robbed by a colossal robot that rips off an entire laboratory room. But who is the master manipulator behind the metallic thief, and how will Batman pull the plug on the mad machine's rampage? Could it be the coincidental appearance of the diabolical Lex Luthor or some other genius-level supervillain with plans to conquer the Earth?

Credit: DC Comics

Dini and Burnett took a forward-reaching approach to the project and envisioned this new comic series as perhaps the never-seen season of Batman: The Animated Series if fate had not steered their attention toward creating the futuristic Batman Beyond. They promise these continuing stories will address certain gaps from the original show and reveal secret histories that could upend Batman's world.

Burnett claims all the ingredients for reviving the beloved animated series in comic form were already boiling when editor Andrew Marino asked if he wanted to be involved.

"DC thought that readers and collectors would like to see more of the animated world," Burnett tells SYFY WIRE. "The idea was to feature popular villains and storylines from the books, which the series hadn’t dealt with. I was more than happy to get on it. It’s invigorating to be back in the continuity of the series, and so familiar, like riding a bike. The other plus was working again with Paul Dini, who is so ridiculously talented."

Credit: DC Comics

Dini promises that fans of the original series will see a veritable parade of famous faces, from supporting characters like Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock to classic villains like Catwoman, Clayface, and Bane.

"Some will be quick cameos, but we really wanted to pepper Batman's world with as many members of our supporting cast as we could," Dini adds. "There will also be well-known DC characters that have never appeared in the animated series before, such as Azrael, and some interesting new villains created just for this run.

"That said, it was really important to Alan and myself that the through line of the story be about Batman himself. It deals with a number of good and bad choices Batman made over the years and how a tragedy in his past affects his crime-fighting family today."  

Credit: DC Comics

Artist Ty Templeton didn't worry about either nostalgia or modern sensibilities when creating the art for the series, and wished only to tell the story as best he could, concentrating on where the emotional close-ups were, how he should stage a fight scene moment, and where the action is heading across the page.

"Because it's a 'digital first' comic, the layouts are sideways, which is a fun new challenge, but I've done this style before with the recent Batman '66/Adam West comic series," Templeton explains to SYFY WIRE. "Nostalgia is part of the equation, because the designs for these characters were done years ago, five animated series ago. That's baked in.

"Also Alan, Paul, and myself worked on the comics and TV shows that came out years ago, so our names get a bit of a nostalgic tang when associated with these characters. We created stories many fans read in their youth. It's a jolt to discover you've been around long enough to be considered nostalgia, but it's also very gratifying to be well remembered for something. As for modern expectations? All I can tell you is that I've read the script, and you modern guys can expect one of the most fun and satisfying Batman tales in years."

Credit: DC Comics

The enduring appeal of Batman: The Animated Series across generations is something Dini and Burnett hold to heart, especially when crafting this new evolution of the material.

"The animated series was originally crafted from elements of Batman's history which we always felt were either iconic or that served our interpretations of the characters well," notes Dini. "That made for a bold, dramatic look for the series, and versions of the characters that struck most viewers as being true to their original heroic or villainous interpretations. It was Batman Basic, but it was also a version everyone seemed to like." 

"It was a series that was created by fans," Burnett recalls. "We all loved the comics and felt a responsibility toward them. We’d put our spin on the villains, but we weren’t re-inventing them. We were fleshing them out, trying to figure what made them tick. And of course not enough can be said about the look of the show created by our fellow producers Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski. Knowing we were writing for that kind of dark deco ambiance made a difference."  

Credit: DC Comics

Now enjoy our full eight-page preview in the gallery below. DC Comics' Batman: The Adventures Continue #1, featuring a main cover by Dave Johnson and rousing variant by Dan Mora, are scheduled to hit shelves on May 6, 2020. Digital-first chapters arrive beginning in April 1.

Max Barry on how science fiction prepares us for the apocalypse @ Boing Boing

I greatly enjoyed Max Barry's 2013 novel Lexicon (Cory loved it, too -- here's his review). Barry has a new novel that came out today from Putnam, called Providence, which I started reading. It's a space thriller about a four person crew on an AI controlled spaceship programmed to seek and destroy "salamanders" - creatures that kill by spitting mini-black holes. It's terrific so far (I'm 70% finished).

I'm happy that Max wrote this op-ed for Boing Boing, titled "How Science Fiction Prepares Us For the Apocalypse." -- Mark

My favorite theory on why we dream is that we’re practicing for emergencies. Asleep, unguarded, our minds conjure threats and dilemmas so that once we wake, we’ve learned something. Maybe not very much—maybe only what not to do, because it rarely goes well. But we learn more from our failures than our successes, and this is what our minds serve up, night after night: hypothetical dangers and defeats. Whether we’re fleeing a tiger or struggling to persuade a partner who won’t listen, we fail, but we also practice.

I suspect that’s also why we read fiction. We don’t seek escapism—or, at least, not only that. We read to inform our own future behavior. No matter how fanciful the novel, in the back of our minds, something very practical is taking notes.

Popular fiction regularly mirrors the times in which it’s published. Two hundred years ago, society readers were thrilled by dangerous flirtations in Jane Austen novels; a century ago, people living in newly urbanized cities devoured mysteries and detective stories; and the 1930s gave rise to the Golden Age of science fiction, with stories that asked where technology might take us.

All of these types of books entertained, and occasionally stretched the bounds of plausibility, but they also delivered something very pragmatic: a chance for a reader to observe a dangerous new situation and explore ways to get out of it. In this way, every novel is not only a journey but also a guidebook.

This might seem a long bow to draw with science-fiction novels, which have, in their most popular variants, included giant sandworms, interstellar warfare, self-aware spaceships, and Morlocks. But those of us who have always devoured such stories know they are painted cloth pulled over real people. For every alien world, there is a foreign country or another race; for every threat from the stars, there is one from a government, or an evolving society, or a neighbor.

But beyond this, there is also the fact that a lot of these far-fetched stories are coming true. We are already living in the world of Fahrenheit 451—not the part where they burn books, but everything else. “Orwellian” has become useless as a descriptor, because it applies so neatly to so much; it has lost all context, all contrast.

Portrait of Australian novelist, Max Barry. Photograph by Chris Hopkins

And the post-apocalyptic stories have never seemed more directly relevant. Some are obviously so: There is no shortage of excellent novels featuring a terrible pandemic, or at least the threat of one, including The Stand by Stephen King, The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton, and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. Blindness by José Saramago, published in 1995, tells a gripping story of quarantine in the face of an unknown viral affliction: A small group are locked down inside an asylum and guarded by soldiers—and what happens next, I will be very glad to have read if the current world situation gets much worse.

We might have read these stories for thrills, but in truth they offer an unexpected comfort: a sense of preparedness. Although I don’t know what’s coming, I do know what happened when the man and the boy walked The Road (Cormac McCarthy), and I watched how people survived, or didn’t, in Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell).

Some part of my brain has tucked away lessons from these books, I’m sure. What they’re worth, if tested, remains to be seen. But I feel better for having them. And for many of us, whether we are health patients or citizens, workers or parents, acting decently and rationally—keeping our heads even as the world gets weirder—is among the most important things we can do. Nothing is as terrifying as the unknown, and for science-fiction fans, who have been reading stories of blasted cities and fractured worlds for years, this is all known. No matter what happens next, or how bad it gets, we’ve been here before. We have, at least, dreamed about it.

Star Trek: Picard's Best Callbacks to The Next Generation @ io9

For better or worse, Star Trek: Picard leaned heavily into the nostalgia of its returning hero. Over the course of its recently concluded first season, this didn’t just mean bringing back familiar faces, it meant many sweet callbacks to the beloved Next Generation for fans to spot over its 10-episode run.

Read more...

Disneyland and Walt Disney World are still closed, so now what? @ Syfy Wire

1p>Hello from my bunker of roller coaster dreams!

Visiting theme parks feels so far away, especially after this week’s news, but remember — we will wait, patiently (or not), and eventually we will get back there.

Just think of it like that dip underneath the train station before entering Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland or Disney World’s Magic Kingdom: Even if you can’t see the rest of the park yet, you know it’s there on the other side. As you take in the vintage attraction posters, the butter-tinged scent of the nearby popcorn stand, the first few details of those turn-of-the-century buildings — you can sense that it’s just a bit farther.

It may be a while until we emerge out the other end of that underpass, but it’ll happen. Don’t forget that: It will happen.

In the meantime, our theme-park-loving hearts still need to bleed for something, so here’s a bit of what you need (important details about these park closures!), what you want (a worthy distraction!), and a new meme you won’t be able to forget:

THE PARKS ARE CLOSED — AND YES, IT'S GOING TO BE A WHILE.

Wondering when you’re going on your theme park vacation? Yeah, so are we. Last week, The Walt Disney Company announced that Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts will remain closed until further notice due to the continuing spread of the coronavirus. That means nearly everything — the theme parks, hotels, water parks, "downtown" malls — except for golf (still open?) will remain closed indefinitely.

Credit: Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Now, naturally, for a theme park resort that sees peak crowds over spring break and at the beginning of summer, that can be confusing for someone who has plans in May or June. According to Scott Gustin, both resorts are only offering bookings starting on June 1, signaling the possibility these parks could remain closed for at least another two months. (That would be on the short end. For reference: The theme parks that shuttered first, Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland, have remained closed for over nine weeks.)

Disney Vacation Club Resorts — Disney's Vero Beach Resort, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, and Aulani, Disney’s Hawaiian destination — are also closed indefinitely, and Disney Cruise Line just halted its cruise departures through April 28.

If you have a trip that needs to be rescheduled or canceled, Disney Food Blog has a comprehensive list of resources to aid in adjusting your vacation plans, including details on an exclusive offer for later this year.

But the big question remains: When can we, the folks who live and breathe for this stuff, return to our place? When can the Disney World fans, who gleefully wait in a 40-minute line for a $6 Starbucks just to sit on a patch of turf in the blazing sun beside a comically large castle, finally go back? It’s looking further and further into summer, but it’ll happen. And when it does, it’ll be incredible.

Credit: Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

SO, WHAT IS THERE TO DO BESIDES DAYDREAM?

Obviously, I've been daydreaming a lot. I highly recommend this caramel corn recipe as a dupe for the one from the Karamel-Kuche shop at Epcot’s Germany Pavilion! And, ya know, eating your feelings.

If you're a Disney fan, there’s no better time to take that deep dive into a major Disney education than right now. There are plenty of animated films and YouTube videos of theme park background audio (this one, from Tokyo, is a new favorite), but it’s worth carving out a day to focus on something else: learning how the sausage is really made.

No, we don’t mean the one from Biergarten — or even that of Galaxy’s Edge’s Ronto Wraps — but how these theme parks are actually conceived. Khan Academy’s Imagineering in a Box lesson plan is a free, eye-opening initiative that's family-friendly without sacrificing any hard details. Done in partnership with Walt Disney Imagineering — a first, truly considering WDI is so secretive it was major news when it launched its very first website last year — it teaches kids and adults how to build a theme park from the geniuses who’ve already done it.

You’ll get to learn the lingo — beat sheet! ghost graphics! — and even dream up your favorite ride. If it sounds like little kid stuff, remember this: It’ll help you understand not only how theme parks work, but why certain things make it inside, a backbone that’ll pop up on every future visit.

And then there’s my other go-to suggestion: a not-so-little (OK, it’s a 600-plus-page behemoth) book called Disney War. If holding up a hefty exposé sounds like more exercise than you’re willing to do while sheltered in place, the audiobook is absolutely perfect. Narrator Patrick Lawlor brings a booming, broadcast journalist-esque voice to the tale, which plays out like a mix between a compelling deep-dive podcast and a worth-revisiting 60 Minutes episode.

It’s not just history that makes Disney War so compelling either — it’s the unfettered access James B. Stewart was given in writing it. When he references an individual fax or conversation between former Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner and other power players like Michael Ovitz and Jeffrey Katzenberg, it feels impossible, but it’s all accounted for. It’s a trip that can be time-consuming in normal life and a little dense for a morning commute, but in the comfort of your own home, it will fill the time with both drama and ease.

TWEET(S) OF THE WEEK

A perfect meme about our love of the parks that landed from heaven and NEVER GETS OLD:

We miss the Disney Outlet report as much as you do, bud.

LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!

- Ride a LEGOLAND coaster, take in a 360-degree view of Universal Orlando’s Diagon Alley or fly down a roaring rapids water slide in Visit Orlando’s compilation of virtual activities.

- And if that's not enough, do virtual zoo visits with animals, download coloring pages, and go on a digital safari over at IAAPA's online experience compilation.

- All Disney executives will be taking a major pay cut, with CEO Bob Chapek halving his base salary and Bob Iger receiving no base salary, starting Sunday.

- Be Our Chef, the cooking competition that will result in one winning dish being served in the theme parks, has launched on Disney+.

- Now, this perfect video is how to get us to buy something fun and frivolous amidst a pandemic.

- Just the thing I need after 2,000 days in self-quarantine.

- Movie journalist Drew Taylor's deep dive for Vanity Fair into the reason Disney+ doesn’t have more of the Muppets is just fantastic.

WIRE Buzz: George R.R. Martin responds to Westworld; Alamo Drafthouse; Monster Hunter wraps @ Syfy Wire

1p>Westworld set the internet ablaze with a fire-breathing cameo from one of Game of Thrones’ most familiar faces (and two showrunners whom the fandom has mixed feelings about). Show co-creator Jonathan Nolan said that the Drogon, David Benioff, and D.B. Weiss cameo was all A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin’s idea: "The argument there was all between whether or not one of the parks should be Westeros World, which George R.R. Martin has been pitching for years.” Now the man behind the Iron Throne has spilled the real story behind the HBO crossover.

Writing on his blog, Martin explained that though he didn’t know the particulars about the episode’s cameo, he did plant the seeds in Nolan’s mind. “I had no idea this particular moment was coming until I caught it on HBO… but back during WESTWORLD’s season one, I did suggest to Jonah that, seeing as how the original WESTWORLD film featured a Medieval World, the TV version could easily have a Westeros World,” Martin wrote. This callback to the original Michael Crichton echoes the one in the show, which tips its hat to Jurassic Park (another Crichton project). But Martin’s intentions were never for a full back-and-forth—just fun.

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“I never wanted a full crossover, never thought that WESTWORLD’s hosts should adventure in Westeros World as they have in Samurai World and War World…but a brief scene or two could have been fun, and would have been in keeping with the Delos concept,” the author explained. “And, hey, I even suggested that they could bring back actors from GOT, characters we had killed. The hosts die almost weekly, after all. The fans might have gotten a kick out of catching a brief glimpse of Richard Madden, Sibel Kekilli, Esme Bianco, Ron Donachie, or Mark Addy again…and I suspect the actors would have been game as well. But it was not to be.”

A few supporting players popping up in full armor would certainly be fun, but since the dragon already divided the internet, Westworld fans shouldn’t expect to see many more familiar faces anytime soon. Westworld continues airing its third season on Sundays.


Next, as moviegoers adapt to a quarantined and socially distanced world without theatrical screenings, those behind the movie theaters are adapting as well. Alamo Drafthouse has launched a new initiative specifically aimed at those staying home and looking to replicate the unique vibe that’s earned the company its cult following.

According to a release, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is kicking off the “Alamo-At-Home” initiative by bringing its Terror Tuesday and Weird Wednesday series to its Virtual Cinema collaboration with Kino Lorber, Film Movement, and Magnolia Pictures. This online indie distribution network will include the pre-show content, introductions, and discussions the Alamo is known for.

“Terror Tuesday and Weird Wednesday aren’t just film series- they’re communities, and even though our theater doors are currently closed, it’s vital that we continue to foster these communities, because they are truly the heart of the Alamo Drafthouse,” said Sarah Pitre, Senior Director of Programming and Promotions.

The weekly series kicks off with Keith Li’s self-explanatory 1982 film Centipede Horror on March 31, followed by Fredric Hobbs’ 1973 mutated-sheep monster movie Godmonster of Indian Flats on April 8.


Finally, not even the coronavirus could stop Paul W.S. Anderson’s Monster Hunter movie. Perhaps all those Resident Evil films gave him some insight into working through a pandemic? The film, which stars Milla Jovovich as Captain Natalie Artemis and Tony Jaa as The Hunter, recently dropped its first posters (which showcase some massive weapons from the Capcom video game series of the same name) and, now, it looks to have wrapped filming.

The company behind the film, German producer-distributor Constantin Film (which also put out Anderson’s Resident Evil adaptations), gave an update on the production as many of its contemporaries either halt, delay, or otherwise postpone due to the dangers of coronavirus.

Monster Hunter is still set for a September worldwide release,” Constantin Film boss Martin Moszkowicz told Deadline. “We are delivering it this week.” While many of its other titles will be affected, the timing worked out for Monster Hunter so that it wrapped just as many productions close down. Post-production work can be done remotely, as many productions and animated projects opt for this strategy.

Monster Hunter looks to slay when it drops into theaters on Sept. 4.

9 genre characters who really 'got' social distancing @ Syfy Wire

1p>Living in the time of COVID-19 has left us to respectfully practice the noble art of social distancing. We're all (we hope) in a state of self-imposed exile, with nothing keeping us connected but the very technology that we all feared would kill us someday. It still might do that, just not now.

We're two weeks into this thing, and already things are getting weird for a lot of people. You may be quarantined with a loved one, a roommate, or a significant other. If that's the case, then chances are good that you're getting to know them in a variety of highly personal ways. Others may be quarantined alone, fully exiled, with nothing but a phone, a Wi-Fi connection, and a very loud voice out of an open window with which to let the world know, "Hey, I'm still here."

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We have many examples in the realms of genre when it comes to the various ways and means of self-distancing. Characters from books, shows, movies, and games have been teaching us these lessons for years, and now we're finally in a position to put those lessons into practice. Sometimes it involves following their example, and sometimes it's good to look at them and say, "Hey, let's not be like this." Every so often, one of them has no choice but to self-distance. In those cases, they simply make the best of it.

Which characters in genre really, truly, deeply "get" the nature and ways of social distance? Here are nine of the greats.

Decompress With These Video Game Dreamscapes @ io9

The covid-19 museum closures have made abundantly clear that accession committees and the web’s corporate overlords don’t have much love for net art. While museums spent the past decade and hundreds of millions of dollars colonizing the earth and sky to make space for hoards of painting and sculpture, the web’s…

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There's Something for Everyone on April's Giant List of New Sci-Fi and Fantasy Book Releases @ io9

Many of us suddenly have more time for reading these days, and lucky for sci-fi and fantasy fans, April is chock-full of new releases—with tales of witches, monsters, vengeful forces of nature, space colonists, AI gone wild, and so much more. Crack open a new book and escape into its pages!

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An unofficial guide to the unused story ideas for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker @ Syfy Wire

1p>There was a lot of speculation on Reddit recently when supposed plot points from Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly's script for the ninth and final Star Wars episode surfaced online.

While the writing duo did get story credit for what became The Rise of Skywalker under director J.J. Abrams, we'll never truly know what Trevorrow and Connolly had in mind for the end of the Skywalker Saga unless Lucasfilm publishes their unused screenplay, which isn't very likely.

That said, the official art book for The Rise of Skywalker (now on sale from Abrams Books) is a rich treasure trove of potential plot ideas that either evolved into what we see in the movie or were axed entirely as Abrams' script (co-written with Chris Terrio) took shape — even as filming got underway at Pinewood Studios in the U.K.

Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney

"With my day job being creative art manager, I’m lucky enough to see all the concept art as it’s being created for the most part," the book's author, Phil Szostak, told SYFY WIRE. "I do have access to a database that literally has every piece of concept art that was done ... I’m looking at thousands, if not tens of thousands of pieces of art, which is a pure joy ... Just digging into those folders and the sub-folders and the dormant files and all that stuff, I do, on occasion, find interesting, weird, one-off stuff."

"I've never rewritten a film as much as this one," Terrio says in the book. "We're course-correcting as we go — we're trying things, and some things don't work and some things aren't ambitious enough. Some things are overly ambitious. Some things are too dense. Some things are too simple. Some things are too nostalgic. Some things are too out-of-left-field. We're finding our balance."

We've already explored some of these unused concepts, like the Miyazaki-esque Oracle, the original insectoid design for Babu Frik, and the duck-inspired design of D-O. The movie's novelization and visual dictionary yielded even more goodies about stuff like the Battle of Crait, the Knights of RenJannah's relationship to Lando, and Leia's Force-related abilities.

But the juicy insights don't end there, folks. With that in mind, SYFY WIRE has pulled together an unofficial guide to the really cool and strange story beats highlighted in The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but that never made it into the finished film.

Emily Carroll's macabre fairy tales are horror classics in the making @ Syfy Wire

1p>Emily Carroll's 2013 anthology Through the Woods is widely considered one of the essential classics of modern horror comics. Breathtaking art, unique stylistic choices and morbid narration combine to bring us macabre fairy tales that seem new and old all at once.

No one in horror comics has created works that look or feel quite like Carroll’s. While they could easily coast on sheer stylism, the depth in the stories is significant — it is the blend of ancient, human-shaped monsters, melancholy narration, and stunning visual choices that brings us some of the most chilling horror stories of any era.

When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll

Carroll has had an interesting career, from illustrating comic-style interpretations of Neko Case songs to video game design to the illustration of the fascinating Baba Yaga's Assistant by Marika McCoola, as well as the adaptation of the 1999 novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Yet she is perhaps best known for her short horror comics, which almost always focus on enigmatic characters hiding something monstrous just beneath seemingly calm surfaces.

On her website, many of Carroll's stand-alone stories are still available to read. This includes some of her best work, such as 2013's Out of Skin. It begins when a woman finds several rotting corpses in the woods after a rainstorm, after which she becomes haunted by their collective presence. The gray, black, and white tones are eased by mild pastels and broken up by shocking splashes of red, setting a subtly visceral mood for the tale. In the end, the story isn’t so much about the ghosts that surround the focal character as it is about the long term effects of aging and loneliness, but it is the ghosts that give us a visual definition for these ideas.

Other short stories include The Hole the Fox Did Make, a tale of a young person named Regan with a weary, overworked mother. Regan wanders near a forbidden creek at the behest of a fox-human hybrid who tells her that her father is the Prince of Foxes, drawing Regan into a fantasy world which she may not escape. Meanwhile, The Worthington presents readers with a choice of doors, and behind each, there is a short vignette. This is a tool utilized superbly in Carroll's later work When I Arrived at the Castle — choose-your-own-adventure set-ups that allow short, seemingly unrelated stories to intersect into a puzzling whole.

When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods collects five short stories along with a short prologue and epilogue to help tie the themes of the book together. In Our Neighbor’s House, a young, orphaned girl wakes each morning to find another one of her sisters has disappeared until only she is left. In A Lady’s Hands Are Cold, a young wife discovers the body of her husband’s previous wife in fragments, pulling them together on his bed, becoming haunted, even possessed by her ghost. In His Face All Red, a man kills his brother out of jealousy only to see him return to life with no mention of the death. My Friend Janna introduces us to the friend of a fake medium, who discovers that she can see ghosts even if her friend is a fraud, and The Nesting Place shows the troubled reconciliation of a sister with her brother and his new, mysterious young bride.

These stories all encapsulate much of Carroll’s trademarks — people who are not what they seem to be, duplicity, fragmented storytelling, the monster in the mirror and a foreboding sense of isolation even for characters that are surrounded by other people. All of this ties together with the title of the book, Through the Woods, recalling countless cautionary tales not to wander too far away from the path. No modern horror library is complete without this addition.

The thematic follow-up to this collection is the short story, Beneath the Dead Oak Tree, which tells the tale of a young woman seemingly seduced by a frivolous playboy. Through lyrical, rhyming narration, we watch the woman, apparently a victim-in-waiting, as she defies societal expectations at every turn, ultimately revealing her own terrible nature.

Beneath the Dead Oak Tree by Emily Carroll

When I Arrived at the Castle was widely acclaimed, named one of the best books of 2019 by several critics. As with many of Carroll’s stories, this is based in an ancient trope: the elegant woman who lives alone in an isolated mansion, pulling in stray victims from neighboring towns. A woman comes to kill her for her crimes and is led through a horror show of myriad fables after she is trapped in a great hall of doors and forced to choose one after the other. Told in black, white, and red, with a sense of relish for old lesbian vampire and haunted house tropes, When I Arrived at the Castle manages to tread familiar ground by breaking through it entirely. As always, a key to Carroll’s work lies in revealing an equally chilling tendency towards monstrosity in the protagonist as in the antagonist. While her previous works are easily masterpieces in and of themselves, this story is perhaps the one that most clearly defines the many pre-existing themes — hidden monsters, short, dreamlike interludes, isolation, and scenery that interacts with the story as if it is itself a character.

Countless creators have worked to bring us epic works of horror fiction over the decades, but in that canon, Carroll’s work still stands out as being scary, upsetting, haunting, and, most of all, incredibly self-reflective. Perhaps more than anything, Carroll creates protagonists which are to be believed; even when these characters doubt themselves, the reader never does. The face-value acceptance of a terrible, unfathomable world of dreams and nightmares behind every seemingly normal human interaction places readers immediately out of our depth, trying to return to a normalcy that grows ever more distant with each turn of the page. Even in their most outlandish moments, there is a sense of the terrible, unspoken truths of our lives at the heart of these stories, which is partially why they will continue to attract readers all across the globe.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Andrew Jack, dialect coach for Star Wars sequel trilogy, dead at 76 from coronavirus complications @ Syfy Wire

1p>Andrew Jack, a veteran dialect coach for Disney's Star Wars sequel trilogy, has died at the age of 76 from coronavirus complications. Per TMZ, which broke the news, Jack passed away Tuesday morning at a hospital outside of London. This was confirmed by his rep, Jill McCullough.

Having worked in Hollywood since the early 1980s, Jack was known for "teaching countless actors different accents and dialects over the years on blockbuster films," writes TMZ. As such, helping John Boyega (who plays Finn) craft an American accent over his native British one was most likely one of Jack's main responsibilities in the galaxy far, far away. He also played the minor role of Resistance leader, Major Caluan Ematt, in The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017).

His dialect work extended to Lucasfilm's two spinoff projects: Rogue One and Solo.

Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney

Jack was in the U.K. for the production of Matt Reeves' The Batman, which went on hold earlier this month as the growing pandemic became more of a global threat. The comic book film stars Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse) as Bruce Wayne. It was Jack's second Caped Crusader movie after working on 2005's Batman Begins. That project also featured a non-American speaker, Christian Bale, stepping into the role of Gotham City's Dark Knight.

Across his storied career, Jack also served as the dialect coach for Tomorrow Never DiesThe Fellowship of the RingDie Another Day, The Two TowersThe Return of the King, Alien vs. Predator, Sunshine, Sherlock Holmes, The Wolfman, REDCaptain America: The First AvengerHansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersGuardians of the GalaxyThor: Ragnarok, and Dolittle.

Collaborating with Chris Hemsworth on Ragnarok led to several more team-ups with the God of Thunder for Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Men in Black: International.

Jack is survived by his wife, who is currently quarantined in Australia.


How Neon Can Make a Star Destroy Itself @ io9

Some stars have the element neon to thank for their ultimate, explosive demise, according to astrophysical research.

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Online-Only Overwatch League Has Been Weird But Fun As Heck @ io9

The coronavirus has canceled or postponed almost every single major and minor social event across the world. Just this week, we learned that the 2020 Olympics will need to rebrand to the 2021 Olympics with the announcement that the games have been postponed until July of next year. Other sporting institutions like the…

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In This Exclusive Sonic the Hedgehog Clip, the Cast Discusses the Joys of Gaming @ io9

One of the big things Sonic the Hedgehog had going for it that video game movies often do not was a cast that clearly grew up loving the characters and franchise they were now a part of. That, in theory, made it easier to act through a movie with a somewhat less than thrilling plot (though fun all the same.)

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Amazon Fires Worker Who Organized Strike Over Conditions Amid Coronavirus Outbreak @ io9

Amazon has fired an employee at its Staten Island facility who organized a strike against his employer over conditions in the company’s warehouses amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

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The Rise of Skywalker Could've Given Us a Giant Tank Shaped Like BB-8 @ io9

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker already had so much going on, but our exclusive look at some of the concept art behind making it reveals the film could’ve had even more, including something truly delightful. Three words, my friends: BB-8. Battle. Tank.

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Save $140 on Sonos' Super Capable, Great-Sounding Playbase @ io9

Sonos Playbase (White Only) | $560 | Amazon

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Here's how Birds of Prey brought Harley Quinn's hyena to life @ Syfy Wire

1p>One of the most striking, fun, comic-accurate pieces of Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) was Harley's adorable pet hyena, Bruce. Yes, he's named after that hunky Wayne guy and no, he's certainly not a real-life hyena. That doesn't mean the production didn't look into getting one, though. In fact, it almost happened. In a special feature on the Birds of Prey digital release, star Margot Robbie, director Cathy Yan, and more discussed all the work that went into bringing Harley's pet to life on the big screen.

Basically, it was a lot of CG on top of a lovely German Shepard. But that only manifested as a back-up plan after the team exhausted their attempts to make a real hyena work. "It was the biggest conundrum we had: how do we shoot these scenes with the hyena," Robbie said. The crew "met up with some animal trainers that actually had a hyena," visual effects supervisor Greg Steele said, which is where they "learned how dangerous it would be to actually have on set."

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"If this hyena touches anything, it considers it to be his," Robbie said. "So we're like, 'Ok can he sit on a couch?' and they're like 'Yes, but then it's his couch. He will eat it and if someone tries to take him away from it, then he'll eat you.'" Yikes. Ok, no a real hyena is a no-go - especially if this is how a TRAINED one operates on set. Talk about a diva. So then what? 

"Margot and Cathy were saying 'We want to be able to touch it and interact with it,' because they wanted to build the relationship," said Steele. "It wasn't just 'Hey, there's a hyena,' she wanted to stroke his face." A fully CG creation was tough because there needed to be a tangible element. So, they settled on a dog. A big dog. The German Shepard would be the basis of the pet, which a CG hyena could be draped over. 

"Once those shots were selected that would have Bruce in them," explained visual effects producer Annemarie Griggs, "Those plates were turned over to [VFX house Weta Digital], and Weta would begin by tracking in the CG model that they'd already created, so that his movements matched the movements of our stand-in German Shepard." No wonder that hyena looked so cuddly! Just don't try this at home...even if you're going through a bad breakup.

Birds of Prey is out on home release now.

Chosen One of the Day: A Santiagos Cabrera on Star Trek: Picard @ Syfy Wire

1p>Star Trek: Picard wrapped its largely acclaimed first season last week, and the show had a lot going for it. There was Patrick Stewart’s return as our beloved hero, Jean Luc Picard, there was not one, but two hot romulans (one emo, one elf), there was intrigue, and drama, and Data. But perhaps its greatest triumph occurred in Episode 8: a Santiagos Cabrera. 

Cabrera plays the ship’s captain, broken, acerbic and funny, haunted by something in his past. This is Cristóbal "Cris" Rios: 

Credit: CBS All Access

He also plays five separate versions of digital holograms on his ship, all with varying personalities and accents depending on their duties. That’s a whole mess of Santiagos Cabrera. And in the eighth installment of the series, we got to see the lot of them! 

There’s EMH — a very English-sounding Santiago Cabrera. Then Ian in engineering, who is (as per Star Trek’s engineering guidelines) Scottish. We’ve got hospitality who is hilariously American. Enoch who handles navigation and is Irish. And then there’s Emmet who is generally over everything and speaks Spanish very rumbly and attractively. He’s the tacticians expert. They all commit to their work very handsomely. 

Credit: CBS All Access

First of all: thank you to the producers of Star Trek: Picard for writing in so much accent work for Santiago Cabrera — sure he’s the addict artist from Heroes but he’s also Lancelot and Aramis. Let his accent work sing! Secondly: shout out to Wardrobe for the various looks we have going for these holograms. That beanie that Ian wears is *chef’s kiss*. 

Credit: CBS All Access

Raffi — played by Michelle Hurd — has tracked down all five holos in an attempt to figure out why Rios is angsting in his cabin, and without getting too granular into the plotting, she’s putting the pieces Rios has fractured himself into together to create the image of a man. By hanging out with five very attractive moving images of the same man. An inspiring commitment to the work, am I right?

If you’re not watching Star Trek: Picard, it’s not a bad time to pick it up. We can all take a little escape into Santiago Cabrera’s eyes, and his eyes, and his eyes, and his eyes, and his eyes, and his eyes. 

I think Enoch might be my favorite because we both make the same “I’m so happy” face. 

Credit: CBS All Access

Credit: CBS All Access

Tuesday's Best Deals: Anker USB-C Hub, Logitech Gaming Headset, Switch Car Charger, and More @ io9

An exclusive Bokksu discount, Toy Story Collection, Sony X950G TV, and a site-wide Olivers sale lead off Tuesday’s best deals from around the web.

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10 Great Places to Start Watching Mobile Suit Gundam @ io9

Mobile Suit Gundam is one of the most iconic mecha franchises of all time, but it’s also been going on for so long, and in so many different forms, that getting into it can seem incredibly intimidating. But if you’re looking for shows to binge-watch that are full of rad robot action (and little horror of war, as a…

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Jason Isaacs returns to Harry Potter in Audible's 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' (Preview) @ Syfy Wire

1p>While he's usually too busy serving the Dark Lord, Jason Isaacs found the time to return to the world of Harry Potter by teaming up with Audible and Pottermore Publishing for an audiobook adaptation of J.K. Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Isaacs, who played Death Eater Lucius Malfoy in the live-action Potter films, was tapped to narrate the darkest and most macabre magical fairy tale of the bunch: "The Warlock's Hairy Heart."

"[I] was just reminded of the unlimited breadth of Jo’s imagination," Isaacs (Star Trek: Discovery, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance) exclusively tells SYFY WIRE. "The story I’m reading is a particularly dark tale ... I’m an actor, so I read scripts all the time. With scripts, you always have some sense, like audiences always have some sense, of roughly where you’re going, what world you’re living in, and roughly how things will come to an end. That stuff just isn’t true with Jo’s stories at all."

Below, you can enjoy an exclusive excerpt of Isaacs reading his segment, which deals with a callous wizard who cuts out his own heart to avoid falling prey to the "weakness" of love.

While he'd read all seven Potter books while making the movies, Isaacs had never picked up a copy of Beedle the Bard (a collection of ancient wizarding kids' stories first mentioned in Deathly Hallows), which became available to the public in 2008.

"I wasn’t familiar with them at all, which was great," the actor says. "Sadly, one of the constants of being an actor and with the advent of the internet, is I don’t read anywhere near as much as I used to when I was younger. I jump at the chance to narrate audiobooks and when someone says, ‘There’s a Jo Rowling story to be done,’ I was [excited] because I hadn’t read them and I wanted to see what she’d come up with. She never disappoints."

His approach to narration wasn't to try and emulate his character from the films. Along with the in-story sound effects (expertly provided by Pinewood Studios), he just wants to subtly help listeners conjure a fantastical world inside their heads.

"Lucius Malfoy isn’t telling the story. Jo’s telling the story through Jason’s voice. Jude isn’t being Dumbledore and Warwick’s not being Flitwick," he explains. "That’s all stripped away, we’re just actors and the trick to narrating a great story is to get out of the way of it. You don’t want people to picture you at all. You want to be able to build a picture completely out of the listener’s imagination—of what the people look like and sound like and the situations they’re in ... You’re not trying to act, you’re just trying to encourage and nudge their imaginations to build the universe for themselves."

Here's another exclusive peek at the audiobook:

The Audible and Pottermore project is meant to raise money for Lumos, Rowling's non-profit that reunites institutionalized children with their families. Its name refers to the spell for casting a beam of light from one's wand tip. 

Wizarding World vets such as Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick), Jude Law (young Dumbledore), Noma Dumezweni (Hermione in Cursed Child), and Sally Mortemore (Madam Pince) make up the rest of the audiobook's all-star cast. Both Law and Mortemore pipe in between each story with ancillary comments that explain certain terms or provide background on how Beedle's stories influenced wizarding culture over the centuries.

"Who wouldn’t want to read any of those stories?," Isaacs asks. "Pretty much everybody, I think, who has been involved with the films, when you come across the work the charity does, you’re so impressed by it ... She set up this charity, which does amazing work, and it’s work that nobody else was doing. So many of us [involved] with Potter have been involved in it."

Credit: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

With everybody on lockdown due to the global coronavirus pandemic, reading or listening to stories is just what we need right now. Turning to your imagination as a way to relieve anxiety, stress, and panic is almost...well, it's almost like magic.

"I found them just an incredibly welcome relief," the actor concludes, referring to Beedle's parables. "It’s fabulous to have your mind take you elsewhere, particularly during stressful times. It’s one of the reasons I was happy to do the interview, to encourage it not just because Lumos is a wonderful charity and the [tales] are wonderful, but because I think it’s a great time to be listening to stories and books."

Audible's production of The Tales of Beedle the Bard is now available to purchase for $14.95.

Aside from "The Warlock's Hairy Heart," the fables also include: "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot" (read by Davis); "The Fountain of Fair Fortune" (read by Lynch); "Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump" (read by Wright); and "The Tale of the Three Brothers" (read by Dumezweni).


Battlestar Galacticast: Remembering Season 3, Episode 12: 'Rapture' @ Syfy Wire

1p>Welcome back to Battlestar Galacticast ... time to talk Battlestar Galactica Season 3!

Welcome to the Day 1 of a brave new world. For the first time, Marc Bernardin and Tricia Helfer are not recording together in the same room, but that's not going to stop them from frakking down BSG Season 3, Episode 12: "Rapture." Order some Domino's or Pizza Hut (from a safe distance) and listen in as they discuss this sweaty gun show... and beware of bad ADR and green screen.

Spoiler Alert for Season 3! Listen below.

Click here to subscribe via Apple Podcasts.

Click here to subscribe via Spotify.

Click here to subscribe via Google Podcasts.

Gaming: Scary good reviews for Resident Evil 3; Elder Scrolls Online returns to Skyrim & more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Capcom hit on a good — no, a great thing when it tested the waters for a Resident Evil revival by completely remaking Resident Evil 2, an HD do-over that sent fans and critics alike cowering for cover when it released to universal acclaim last year. But now that they’ve got the ball rolling, how does RE’s newest return to Raccoon City feel?

Judging by the early reviews that’re pouring in for Resident Evil 3, the soon-to-release overhaul of 1999’s Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, it feels pretty terrifying…in the best of ways, of course. With RE3 set to arrive in players’ hands in just a couple of days, critics largely agree that whatever magic formula Capcom has found to breathe new life into the survival horror genre it helped create, they need to stick with it.

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Resident Evil on YouTube

Stalked by upgraded lab behemoth Nemesis T-Type, the baddie who like Mr. X before him won’t give dual protagonists Jill Valentine and Carlos Oliveira a moment’s peace, RE3 is getting tons of love for its creepy atmosphere and tight, fat-free story. “I literally jumped at my own in-game shadow more than once,” wrote IGN’s Lucy O’Brien on the way to giving the game a 9 out of 10; while Kotaku’s Heather Alexandra wrote that “the remake threads a spectacular needle,: one that balances “explosive boss fights and ever-present cat and mouse chases [that] never feel out of place.”

The remake currently enjoys an 80 percent aggregate reviewer score at Metacritic (with the Xbox One version sitting at 86), with most of the criticism coming from reviewers who felt the game’s short length and in-your-face horror beats sometimes feel a little over the top. But with a camp horror take on a virus-plagued theme that might feel strangely current in these days of social distancing and self-quarantine, it looks as if Capcom’s timing — both for the story and for all this stay-at-home free time we have on our hands to play through it — couldn’t be better. Resident Evil 3 is set to invade PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC beginning April 3.


If that ocean of free time yawns as you're couch-bound and waiting for society to get back to normal, The Elder Scrolls Online is beckoning with Greymoor, the next big chapter in the MMORPG that since 2014 has been tiding fans over while we await Bethesda’s mainline followup to Skyrim.

Taking to Skyrim’s western reaches for a dark gothic tale of vampires from the deepest bowels of Tamriel, Greymoor is set 1,000 years before the events of Skyrim and continues the larger Harrowstorm storyline that runs throughout the year. To entice newcomers to ESO’s massive sprawling world, Bethesda is serving up a free playable “Greymoor Prologue” for the next two weeks, running through April 13.

Check out the trailer below:

Bethesda Softworks on YouTube

Yep, that looks like snowy lands we know and love, including the cavernous underground depths and dwarven ruins of Blackreach — in this timeline, the place Greymoor’s Vampire Lord baddie calls home. Head back to the land of the Dragonborn beginning May 18 (PC and Mac users) and June 2 (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One), when The Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor kicks off.


Fans of 2017’s NieR: Automata may not know how deep the NieR DNA runs as a franchise, which is why Square Enix’s announcement of a completely remastered version to commemorate the original NieR’s 10th anniversary feels at first blush like a reboot as much as an HD update.

Square revealed the remaster with a trailer (below) and the tease that the cult favorite is being “rebuilt” to reintroduce players to game designer Yoko Taro’s offbeat, lore-dense action-RPG franchise. We could use a refresher, too: NieR began as an unlikely spinoff of Taro’s wildly imaginative but erratic Drakengard series, before breaking new ground with NieR: Automata — a game set so far in the future from its predecessors that a return to the original feels more than a little like a history lesson.

Square Enix on YouTube

If we’re being precise, the remaster appears to be targeting NieR: Replicant, the PS3 version of the game released in Japan that followed a younger, less mature protagonist than its U.S. counterpart. With a post-apocalyptic, low-tech setting somewhere in the 4th millennium and an accompanying mobile release titled NieR: Reincarnation also in the works, the NieR remaster doesn’t have a release date — but expect it to arrive some time this year for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Even More Star Wars Rumors About Who Could Be Joining The Mandalorian @ io9

Dwayne Johnson has good news about Hobbs & Shaw’s future. Josh Brolin can’t wait to play Cable again...according to Rob Liefeld. The CW gives some of its superhero shows some fresh return dates. Plus, guns blazing in a new Walking Dead clip, and a new look at Stargirl’s Doctor Mid-Nite. To me, my spoilers!

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How big is the Milky Way? @ Syfy Wire

1p>We live inside the Milky Way galaxy, and that's a problem.

For scientists, that is, who want to understand how big our galaxy is. That's hard to answer! Because we're inside it, for example, a lot of it is blocked from view by opaque clouds of dust. Also, it can be difficult to get a handle on the extent and shape of an object you're inside of. If you're in a room inside a house, how can you tell how big the house is?

Happily, nature provides clues. We see a fuzzy band of light across the sky, and call it the Milky Way — it's actually the combined light of billions of distant stars. It's a thick line, and that tells us that a lot of the galaxy is flat: We're inside a thick disk of stars, so we see it projected as a stream of light across the sky.

We can also see a bulge of stars in the middle, which is real. Spiral arms in the disk are more difficult to detect, but radio observations show them clearly, and allow us to map the shape and structure of the galaxy clear to the other side. By looking at stars that change brightness in a predictable way we can measure the shape and extent of the disk, finding it's warped (like the brim of a fedora), and a whopping 120,000 light years across — 120 quadrillion kilometers!

The Milky Way’s warp is obvious when the locations of the Cepheid stars are mapped against a map of the galaxy seen edge-on. The flaring (thickening of the disk with distance from the center) is obvious as well. Credit: J. Skowron / OGLE / Astronomical Observatory, University of Warsaw

We also know that galaxies like our own are surrounded by a huge halo of stars as well as dark matter. That latter is composed of we-know-not-what, probably an exotic form of subatomic particles, which exerts influence on the galaxy via gravity. By mass it far outstrips what we call "normal" matter (though, if you think about it, if there's more dark matter out there then that should be what we call normal), probably by a factor of five or more.

But how big is this halo? It’s by far the largest structure in our galaxy, and arguably defines how big the Milky Way truly is, but it's exceedingly dim or invisible to our eyes, so getting its size is hard.

The structure of the Milky Way: A flattened disk with spiral arms (seen face-on, left, and edge-on, right), with a central bulge, a halo, and more than 150 globular clusters. The location of the Sun about halfway out is indicated. Credit: Left: NASA/JPL-Caltech; right: ESA; layout: ESA/ATG medialab

A team of astronomers recently tackled this issue. They used computer models of how galaxies form and evolve to see if the halo of a galaxy like the Milky Way has a natural edge to it, something where you can plant a sign and say "Here is where the galaxy ends." It's not that simple — haloes tend to fade away gradually instead of coming to a hard stop — but using both these models and observations of smaller galaxies around us, they find the halo of the Milky Way extends to 950,000 light years from the center, meaning our galaxy is twice that across: 1.9 million light years.

A note of caution, however; the uncertainty on this is about ±200,000 light years. It's not precise. But then, as I said above, they're not really measuring an edge.

Also the way this was done was interesting. Back in the early days of the Universe, galaxies formed from clouds of gas and dark matter. Mostly this stuff was all spread out, but there were local places that had higher density, so material would (literally) gravitate toward there. Once a core of material formed, stuff from farther out would fall in, and then stuff farther out than that, and so on. It's an inside-out process.

The halo would form from material pretty far out. It would fall toward the nascent galaxy, and a lot of it would swing back out again. This forms two kinda sorta edges to the halo. One is called the "splashback" edge, where stuff would fall in from the halo and then back out again; where it slowed to a stop defines that region. Matter piles up there because it's moving slowly, and so just outside of that you get a big dropoff in density.

Another edge is closer in to the center, and is called the "2nd caustic." This is where material has fallen around the galaxy a couple of times and has settled down a bit (what astronomer call "virialized" material). The scientists in this new work used that second one to figure out the size of the Milky Way, because the outer one tends to overlap with haloes from other galaxies (like Andromeda, which is 2.5 million light years away) and also because they found that this distance works both when modeling dark matter and stars.

They also looked at the behavior of dwarf galaxies in our Local Group of galaxies, and found that ones closer to the Milky Way than this 2nd caustic tend to move through space at a different velocity than ones farther out. They comment this may be coincidence, but it could also be a physical relationship they have with the Milky Way gravitationally. If so, it's more evidence this makes a good choice for the limit.

So there you go. We live on a planet orbiting a star about 40% of the way from the center to the edge of the disk in a spiral galaxy with a much larger halo that spans nearly two million light years across. Not the biggest galaxy we know, but not one to sneeze at, either.

Save 15% Off a Bokksu Subscription, Right Now [Exclusive] @ io9

15% Off Bokksu Subscriptions and Gift Boxes | Bokksu | Use the promo code KINJA15

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Watch All Four Toy Story Films in 4K UHD for $22 at the Microsoft Store @ io9

Aesop’s Fables: The Kid on the Housetop @ Bureau 42

Remember, humans are not the only species that has kids…

Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/bedtime-in-the-public-domain/message

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Author: W. Blaine Dowler

The Lone Gunmen: Pilot (1×01) @ Bureau 42

TRIGGER WARNING: This episode contains a plot to destroy the World Trade Center by crashing a plane into it, under the pretence of a terrorist attack.

Go to Source
Author: Blaine Dowler

More coronavirus fallout as Sony pushes Ghostbusters: Afterlife & Morbius to 2021 @ Syfy Wire

1p>They ain't afraid of no ghosts, but the coronavirus pandemic is another matter entirely.

In another case of Covid-19 continuing to wreak havoc on studio release schedules, Sony Pictures has announced a slew of delays to the theatrical bows of several upcoming tentpoles, chief among them the new Ghostbusters reboot from Jason Reitman and the Spider-Man spinoff Morbius featuring Jared Leto as Marvel's vampire anti-hero.

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Titled Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the latest entry in the spooky comedy series headlining Paul Rudd and featuring a new generation of slime fighters was originally set to hit theaters on July 10. But with the pandemic in full force and exhibitors closing their doors across the United States, the studio thought it prudent to move the film's opening date to March 5, 2021. Sony also shifted Morbius from a July 31 premiere to March 19, 2021, a temporary blow in its plans to launch a Spidey-centric cinematic universe.

While a year is a long way away for two highly anticipated blockbusters like Ghostbusters and Morbius, at least they have release dates. The same can't be said for that mysterious new Marvel movie — potentially one involving a new-to-screen comic book character — that Sony had scheduled for an Oct. 8, 2021 release. In Sony’s new shifted release schedule, that date has simply been removed altogether, and now the project is classified as undated.

Also undated is the Tom Hanks World War II thriller Greyhound and, no, it doesn't have anything to do with its star's recovery from Covid-19 with wife Rita Wilson. Greyhound, which sees Hanks playing the Commander of an Allied fleet in the Atlantic who must outwit and outrun a pack of German U-boats, was supposed to come out in May. But after getting pushed back to June, Sony has decided to take it off its schedule for now and leave it undated.

There’s also Vivo, Lin Manuel Miranda’s long-brewing DreamWorks animated musical about an adventurous capuchin monkey. After going through multiple schdule changes that predate the whole pandemic time-shift, Vivo is currently set for an April 16, 2021 release. In yet another delay, the Kevin Hart drama Fatherhood, originally set to unspool Oct. 23, will now hit theaters on Jan. 15, 2021.

The coronavirus outbreaks have already led to a slew of postponements of eagerly awaited blockbusters. Warner Bros., for instance, moved Wonder Woman 1984 from June 5 to Aug. 14. Marvel Studios pulled its upcoming May 1 release of Black Widow without announcing a new date. Illumination did the same with its latest Minions entry, Minions: The Rise of Gru, which it pulled from its initial July 3 window without naming a replacement date.

Meanwhile, production has been halted on films like Mission: Impossible 7, James Cameron's Avatar sequels, Lana Wachowski's Matrix 4, and Jurassic World: Dominion, as well as movies just about to start shooting, like Sony's Uncharted starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg, which had already been pushed from its March 5, 2021 release date to Oct. 8, 2021.


Holy treasure trove! Comprehensive collection of 40,000 DC Comics hits auction block @ Syfy Wire

1p>Someone's gonna need The Batcave or Fortress of Solitude after this.

Over 40,000 DC Comics are going under the hammer as Sotheby's has announced plans to auction off one of the few comprehensive collections of DC's entire canon in existence.

The epic sale of the Ian Levine Collection, which will be sold privately as a single lot, kicked off today at Sothebys.com. The Collection contains every comic book DC ever published, dating from the company's humble start in1935 with New Fun #1, all the way to 2014.

We're talking complete runs of DC's Action Comics, Detective Comics, Superman, and Batman — in essence, all the golden age comics DC fans love and more.

Detective Comics #27/Comixology

There's ultra-rare treats like the debut issues of Superman (Action Comics #1), Batman (Detective Comics #27), and Wonder Woman (Sensation Comics #1), along with the first appearances of other DC faves. Among them: Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, the Flash, Aquaman, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Plastic Man, the Justice League of America, and Teen Titans. And let's not forget a who's-who of supervillains like Lex Luthor, General Zod, Bizarro, Joker, Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin, and more.

This rare offering essentially tracks the evolution of the comic book as a short-lived dime store amusement for children into the art form and entertainment juggernaut it's become today, encompassing countless cartoons, TV shows, movies, cinematic universes, and even fashion that have literally spawned a global pop culture mythology.

"The Ian Levine Collection is the holy grail for comics collectors. Amassed over decades of hunting, Levine’s collection embodies the passion and fandom that has defined comics culture for generations, which today is best encapsulated not through printed issues but popular superhero films that regularly break box office records. Featuring some of the most valuable individual books as well as extremely rare promotional issues, the Levine Collection includes all the DC heroes that are among the most recognizable and versatile pop culture touchstones in the world," said Richard Austin, Head of Sotheby's Books & Manuscripts Department in New York.

Sensation Comics #1/Comixology

Per the catalogue, the U.K.-based Levine was first introduced to DC when he read The Justice League of America at age 8 in 1960, during the early years of the Silver Age (1955-1970). From then on, his collection quickly grew, especially after he stumbled, 12 years later, on a London comic shop named after a Ray Bradbury short story, Dark They Were, and Golden Eyed. There, he was able to buy hard-to-find strips that had long been out of print or even discontinued.

After making a name for himself as a celebrated songwriter, DJ, and producer helping popularize the Northern Soul music and dance movement and Hi-NRG disco, Levine had the money and wherewithal to hunt down those rarest of DC gems (not to mention develop one heck of a collection of the BBC's Doctor Who). In doing so, he was able to fill out his unprecedented collection, which ultimately spans eight decades of DC's fabled history.

And now it can be yours – if you're the highest bidder.


Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Morbius Among the Latest Films Delayed by Coronavirus @ io9

Sorry, but you won’t be vamping out with Jared Leto or busting ghosts with Paul Rudd this year. Sony Pictures just announced a major shake-up to its theatrical release schedule, bumping most of its biggest 2020 releases back to 2021.

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WIRE Buzz: WHO wants you to stay home and game; Pokémon Go does social distancing; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>As if we needed more incentive to sit at home and play video games amid all the pandemic precaution, the World Health Organization (WHO) and a ton of heavy hitters in the gaming industry are banding together to make sure we know it’s totally a smart move to do exactly that.

As a way to drive home key WHO safety takeaways, Activision Blizzard, Riot Games, Zynga, Twitch, and 14 other gaming industry leaders are teaming up to get the message across loud and clear: It’s safer (and more fun) to shelter in place and game away than to mix and mingle out in the streets at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The 18 companies involved in the campaign introduced the movement this week with the #PlayApartTogether tag, a unified push to emphasize WHO guidelines “including physical distancing, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and other powerful preventive actions people can take to fight COVID-19,” according to the Associated Press. It's a nice olive branch from WHO, which last year officially created a new space for "Gaming Disorder" among its global diagnostic advisory guidelines.

Following the hashtag across social media channels could net stay-at-home gamers a long list of planned goodies, including “special events, exclusives, activities, rewards” and more, according to the report. Aside from catching up on the ever-mounting pile of games that we’ve all been eyeing before the next consoles from Sony and Microsoft arrive, the idea of course is to slow the spread of COVID-19 by adopting WHO-approved best practices for limiting person-to-person contact.

Ray Chambers, WHO’s U.S. Ambassador for Global Strategy, gave the campaign the organization’s seal of approval, saying in a statement (via VentureBeat) that staying focused on the final boss from the comfort of home could even be a lifesaver. “I thank the games industry for stepping up to help bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chambers. “We hope this campaign to #PlayApartTogether encourages even more people to stay safe and healthy while they help flatten the curve and save lives.”

Stopping the coronavirus without ever getting up off the couch? You don’t have to tell us twice — we’re definitely all in on this one.


As if on cue to assist the whole stay-at-home gaming concept, Pokémon Go developer Niantic is giving longtime fans a way to keep catching ‘em all while never having to leave the house.

That may sound like a tall order for a game based on getting out and exploring, but in keeping with its long-running support for the game, Niantic is making some tweaks to the Go formula that factor in the current need for social distancing, debuting “a new form of gameplay in Pokémon GO called GO Battle League that you can play from anywhere in the world, including at home,” the developer explained.

That includes eliminating the walking requirements for Go Battle League players, as well as introducing “deeply discounted Incense and Poké Balls so people can catch Pokémon without traveling far.”

To cover the game’s exercise component, Go will now let players track their steps indoors with Adventure Sync, so “activities like cleaning your house and running on a treadmill count toward game achievements.” On the social front, look for “in-game virtual social features to enable players to stay in touch when they can’t meet in real life,” including an upcoming update that’ll let Pokémon Go players team up remotely for Raid Battles — while never even hopping out of their PJs.

This story presents some humorous responses to coronavirus, but COVID-19 is very real! Please exercise caution out there: wash those hands, stay at home, and practice social distancing. For extensive information on how to keep you and your loved ones safe, check out the CDC’s coronavirus website.


Finally, we’ve got some fishy news that you’re definitely going to want to chomp into. Proving yet again that anything can be made into a musical, the duo behind Broadway’s 2017 Bandstand, Richard Oberacker and Robert Taylor, are teaming up yet again to bring the world premiere of Bruce to New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse for its 2020-2021 theater season.

So how does that news pertain to us genre fans? Well, for those of you who need a bigger boat, Bruce was the nickname given to the never-working mechanical shark that caused Steven Spielberg so much grief during the filming of his 1975 horror classic, Jaws. Because the shark never worked, the wunderkind director had to come up with creative ways to tell the story that didn’t include shots of the shark, which only added to the film’s frightening effectiveness.  

According to the Playhouse (via Deadline), Bruce chronicles the making of Jaws, and “tells the story of then unknown director Steven Spielberg’s beleaguered film set and the challenges that thwarted his team at every turn, including the film’s star: an uncooperative mechanical shark named Bruce. At its heart, the show proves that when we are faced with hardship and work together as a team, great things can happen.”

The musical will be based on Jaws screenwriter Carl Gottleib’s 1975 memoir, with a book and lyrics from Oberacker, and music by Taylor. A co-production with Seattle Rep, Bruce, directed and choreographed by Donna Feore, is set for its world debut June 9 - July 4, 2021 at the Paper Mill Playhouse.  


See Bloodshot played by a Power Ranger in Valiant’s long delayed, live action web series @ Syfy Wire

1p>Vin Diesel may be the first face that comes to mind when you think about Bloodshot in live action, and for good reason: Sony Pictures’ big-screen movie of the same name, which saw a brief release in theaters earlier this month before the coronavirus epidemic accelerated a move over to video on demand, is still fresh on our minds.

But to the surprise of many fans who’re just getting their first introduction to Valiant Comics’ ex-marine super-soldier, another live-action version of Bloodshot already was dealing damage on the small screen. It’s just that no one, until now, had ever gotten the chance to see him in action. He was played by none other than ex-Power Ranger (the green one!) Jason David Frank, and was part of the deliciously agonizing setup for Ninjak vs The Valiant Universe — a Valiant web series filmed in 2016, but never released due to legal hurdles.

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Check it out:

ValiantComics on YouTube

Finally in the clear to debut the series, Valiant compiled the first six episodes into a single, 70-minute-long mini-movie, releasing the entire thing in one sweet chunk to YouTube just a few days ago. Ninjak (The Arrowverse’s Michael Rowe) finds out in the most brutal way possible that he must turn against his former allies and carry out an MI6 heist for Roku (Chantelle Barry), his former flame and MI6 associate.

Of course, that means pitting Ninjak against Bloodshot and other heroes he’d rather not be fighting in a series of heart-pounding action set pieces that haven’t aged a day, despite the series’ delayed release. “Now, on the run, he must face off against the most powerful heroes known to man for a high-octane, take-no-prisoners trial by fire more perilous and more unpredictable than any he’s faced before,” teases Valiant — and it’s a promise the series makes good on with tons of delightfully up-close fight sequences that, to our amateur eye, dances at the gory boundary between PG-13 and R-rated violence.

Directed by Aaron Schoenke, Ninjak vs The Valiant Universe features Rowe, Frank, Barry, and Derek Theler as X-O Manowar; John Morrison as Eternal Warrior; Ciera Foster as Livewire; and Alex Meglei and Kevin Porter as Archer & Armstrong — and it’s available to stream for free right now at YouTube.


Harley Quinn's Season 2 Premiere Is a No Man's Land of Fucked-Up Fun @ io9

The first season of DC Universe’s animated Harley Quinn series split the difference between Batman: The Animated Series and the grimdark Warner Bros. cinematic universe, telling a surprisingly earnest, foul-mouthed story of self-actualization. By breaking free of the Joker and stepping outside of his shadow, Harley…

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Yep, That Rick and Morty Samurai Treat Was Indeed a Direct Homage to Lone Wolf and Cub @ io9

Even in the best of times, any scrap of new Rick and Morty content is cause for celebration, and yes that includes that one Pringles commercial. But over the weekend, an unexpected delight appeared: a gory samurai short starring the iconic duo! Now the guy who dreamed up the short is sharing how it came together.

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WIRE Buzz: Netflix axes V-Wars, October Faction; The CW dates returning shows; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>We hate to kick off this edition of SYFY’s WIRE Buzz with some bad entertainment news, but we might as well rip off the Band-Aid as quickly as possible: Netflix has driven a stake into the heart of V-Wars and slain October Faction. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the streaming giant will not be renewing the two shows from IDW Entertainment for second seasons. 

Created by showrunners William Laurin and Glenn Davis, V-Wars centers on Dr. Luther Swann (Ian Somerhalder) as he contends with a virus that transformed humans into bloodthirsty vampires. As more people are transformed, the world is plunged into a deadly conflict between humans and vampires. Seemingly immune to the disease, Swann must fight his best friend, Michael Fayne (Adrian Holmes), who has become a leader of the vampires.

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October Faction, meanwhile, tells the story of how Geoff and Viv Allan (Gabriel Darku and Aurora Burghart) discover that their seemingly mild-mannered parents are in fact part of an ancient society of monster hunters. Creator/showrunner Damian Kindler described the series to SYFY WIRE as “Ozark meets Stephen King.”

V-Wars and October Faction join other dramas that Netflix dumped after just one season including Messiah and Daybreak.

So, farewell, you valiant genre shows; we hardly knew ye. At least Locke & Key, Netflix’s other drama series from IDW, has been renewed for a sophomore season.


On some brighter news, The CW has recently announced when a number of its shows, including The Flash and Riverdale, will be airing new episodes. After pushing back the premiere date of Stargirl by one week and putting many of its shows on hold, the network has revealed when we can expect to see new adventures featuring Barry and his friends at S.T.A.R. Labs and Riverdale’s favorite redhead. 

Fans get to return to Riverdale on Wednesday, Apr. 15 at 8 p.m. ET, while Barry & the rest of The Flash gang will return to the network on Apr. 21 at 8 p.m. ET. Batwoman and Supergirl both return Apr. 26, at 8 and 9 p.m. ET, respectively.

In fact, the network has provided a handy card to let you know when all of your favorite CW shows will be returning: 

The CW

And the timing could not be better, since, we don’t know if you heard, but we’re not getting any more V-Wars or October Faction! 


And finally, one unintended positive side effect from having to stay in during the coronavirus epidemic (besides this one…and this one...and also, yes, this one as well) is that we’ve been given a Star Trek: The Next Generation reunion! And no, we’re not talking about the semi-official one we just finished watching. 

Sunday was Marina Sirtis’ (aka Deanna Troi’s) birthday, and neither she nor her fellow TNG castmates were going to let COVID-19 get in the way. So, in keeping with the show’s ongoing theme of embracing the future with hope and optimism, the cast used modern technology to hold a Zoom party for their former co-worker. 

“I have the best friends in the world” Sirtis wrote via Twitter, showing a picture of her and her co-stars. “Considering everything, this was the best birthday present. #TNGRules.”

In addition to Sirtis, the group included Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden, and Wil Wheaton.

Frakes, aka William Riker, also took to social media to reveal the makeshift reunion...

...as did co-star McFadden, who played Dr. Beverly Crusher. “[D]ifferent shot, but same amazing group,” wrote McFadden. “What a blast it was to chat away....and laugh. felt so good.

In addition to starring in TNG and its follow-up films, Sirtis, Frakes, and Spiner also made guest appearances in Star Trek: Picard, which starred Stewart.

This story presents some humorous responses to coronavirus, but COVID-19 is very real! Please exercise caution out there: wash those hands, stay at home, and practice social distancing. For extensive information on how to keep you and your loved ones safe, check out the CDC’s coronavirus website.


Vivarium exposes the trap of the suburban nuclear family @ Syfy Wire

1p>A home in suburbia is an indisputable status symbol. It's an achievement for a couple, proving they're grown up enough to commit, put down roots, and start a family. But behind the meticulously manicured lawns and freshly painted houses, horror can lurk. We've seen variations of this in films like Poltergeist, The Stepford Wives, and The 'Burbs. With Vivarium, writer-director Lorcan Finnegan offers a sinister new spin with a sci-fi twist. Yet at its core, this film is a dark satire warning of the prison that is the heteronormative nuclear family.

Below lie spoilers for Vivarium.  

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Our story begins with a young unmarried couple, Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg). She is a kindergarten teacher with a warm heart; he is a handyman with a car full of tools for any household fix-up a client might need. They are a good team, resourceful and caring. And they're looking to take the next step in their relationship, seeking to buy a house in Yonder, a suburban development outside the city that's cryptically described by the socially awkward broker as "near enough and far enough." This strange man with a too-broad smile guides them to this ambiguously located neighborhood, where every block is identical, lined with two-story homes all painted the same shade of green. It's not quite pretty or pleasing. It's less the color of grass, and more the slightly sickly shade favored for surgical scrubs.

Though a terse tour shows the house is nice enough, Tom and Gemma aren't sold. But before they can leave, they lose track of the broker who bizarrely vanished in the blink of an eye. Without him, they are lost in this labyrinth of identical homes. And as no neighbors have yet to move in, they are all alone in their confounding crisis. There is no way out. They are trapped. And things only get stranger when a box shows up at their doorstep containing supplies and a cooing baby boy. A note informs them that once they raise the child, they will be released. For now, they are under observation. Yes, as the title implies Vivarium is about a human vivarium, where they are being held and observed by an unknown party curious about mankind's established chain of marriage, home, baby.   

Robbed of the outer world, Tom and Gemma are bound together indefinitely. Their lives are entirely limited to this home and each other till death do they part. With no social circle or jobs to define or distract them, they feel suffocated and so seek to establish identities beyond being each other's partners. For Tom, this means digging into work.

He may have lost his business and career, but he still has his tools in their car. Using them, he burrows into the pristine front yard hoping to dig his way out of Yonder. Each day he dedicates himself to this job. He comes in sore from the manual labor of it all, and impatient with his wife and the child. He digs from dawn until dusk but gets nowhere. His labor is fruitless. And then he dies. His body pitched in the hole he has dug, soon to be covered up and forgotten. His legacy lost under the pristine lawn on a block of identically pristine lawns, waiting for someone else to move in.

Gemma will fare no better. Initially, she and Tom try to rebel against the anonymous authority that has stuck them in this house with this child. They resent the boy. He looks like them but is alien to them. His existence forces them to stay in this house, in this life, until he is grown. They have to stay together for the kid. 

When Tom turns to his tunnel to nowhere, Gemma is left alone with the boy who mimics, repulses, and fascinates her. As Tom burrows into the yard, she gives in to her maternal instincts, trying to embrace her lot as this boy-looking creature's mom. She begins to smile. She tries to teach him how to be human. "I am going to figure out the mystery of you," she promises. But her affection for him pushes her further away from her romantic partner until all she is left with is a son who is destined to leave her behind.

Gemma will uncover more of the secrets of Yonder than Tom ever manages. She slips into other versions of Yonder where similarly trapped couples struggle desperation and dark-haired non-human boys of their own. But she will come no closer to escape. Her son matter-of-factly informs Gemma that her role was to be his mother. And the only way out of this suburban trap is death. Vivarium will travel outside the walls of Yonder for its finish. But its message is firmly seeded in that horrifying place.

Through this Twilight Zone-like story, Finnegan offers a cautionary tale of suburban allure and the idyllic life of a happy family it promises. By isolating suburbia from its promise of anywhere else, he presents it as a place where ambition and autonomy are lost to routine and obligations. It's a place where you will be watched. In this extreme example, it's by an ambiguous humanoid race looking to infiltrate society by feeding on the societal pressure to nest. But in real life, you might be ruthlessly observed by neighbors who'd regard your life as a curiosity to gawk over. 

As such, Finnegan argues that suburbia is a vivarium, trapping once vivacious individuals within its borders, and forcing them into its suffocating gender norms of husband and wife. It's a place where women are urged to be mothers selflessly dedicating themselves to their brood, while men must give their all to work in an endless quest for something more. According to Vivarium, the house, the marriage, the family that we're all pressured to want and urged to achieve is a trap meant to plug us into the merciless grind of a society designed to use us up and forget us completely.

All in all, we're just another brick in the wall, another cog in the machine, another lump in the lawn. 

Vivarium is available on VOD and Digital HD now. 

Star Trek: Picard Didn't Know How It Felt About Jean-Luc Until It Was Too Late @ io9

Star Trek: Picard kicked off its season with a lot of ideas about its titular hero. What did it mean that a man like Jean-Luc Picard had not just retired, but quit the utopian organization he’d dedicated his life to? How did he feel about its decline? Is there space for a man like him in a modern interpretation of

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In Rise of Skywalker, Rey and Ben Solo are more in sync against Palpatine than you could ever know @ Syfy Wire

1p>In her 25-year career as a stunt double and now stunt coordinator, Eunice Huthart has helped embody some of the most memorable genre action sequences in cinematic history. Her work is featured in huge films like Children of Men, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Justice League, and she’s been the personal stunt double for Angelina Jolie since Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

An integral member of the global stunt community, Huthart is also a crucial member and voice in the vanguard of women injecting their perspectives into the action oeuvre.

Most recently, Huthart acted as stunt coordinator for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, executing every aspect of director J.J. Abrams' vision, from Rey’s initial training sequence all the way to her final showdown against Palpatine with Ben Solo. With her support team of stunt professionals and fellow coordinators, Huthart used her decades of experience and creativity to craft set pieces that would make their own memorable impact, but also help cap an entire saga.

Stunt coordinator Eunice Huthart with director J.J. Abrams on the set of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. (Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

Audiences always remember an epic ending, so SYFY WIRE asked Huthart to break down Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Ben Solo’s (Adam Driver) momentous confrontation with clone Palpatine in the Sith chamber on Exegol in the last act of Rise of Skywalker.

From the advance prep with the actors to the grace notes that add emotional depth to the physicality, Huthart takes us through it all ...

Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney

PLANNING THE FINAL SHOWDOWN

"[From the start], J.J. had mentioned to me that he wanted the end scene to be so memorable, so I was just working on stuff. At the time, it [involved] Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) but we weren't allowed to even say the word. We would get in so much trouble.

He even had a code name, 'Thirteen,' and you were always supposed to use the code name. But I would forget that. [Laughs]

I'd be chatting with J.J. on a set and I'd be like, 'Oh, J.J., I had this great idea for Palpatine where he comes through that...' And then the whole set got quiet and would be staring at me. And I'd be like, 'Oh, bollocks.'

Eunice Huthart in prep for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. (Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney)

We were conceptually thinking of stuff way, way, way before we even started rehearsals for the movie. In January 2017, we had about a month of conceptual design. J.J. just left me to my own devices and we would design the moves and some kind of different strategies for the characters. One of the things I wanted to deliver is that Rey and Kylo Ren (Driver) progress with their Jedi powers. So we just accentuated that just a little bit more, which J.J. embraced.

What we did with Daisy is we made her lighter on her feet. We wanted her to be grounded, but we wanted her to be a lot lighter on her feet. I made her watch things like middle-distance runners to see how they move and how they just look so light when they run.

With Adam, he’s got a very unique stance. His hips are really tight, actually. I think it's from being tall for a lot of his life, so he must always be hunched looking down or trying to match people's height. We loosened up his hips so that he would look [even] taller, and [we set] his shoulders back. We were working on back exercises with his personal trainer, Simon Waterson. We were working on getting his stance looking different.

Then one of the other things we did is we made the lightsaber lighter in weight than what they were used to. So in their movements, all of a sudden they were moving this lightsaber very quickly, a lot more [quickly] than what they were in the other two movies. It was those subtle differences we wanted to embrace."

Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney

BEN SOLO'S BIG MOMENT

"I kept on at Adam saying, 'When you are Ben, how are we going to do it differently?' He's like, 'You got to give me time, you got to give me time.' In the meantime, we went back [to plan]. Because he was Ben, we threw in a few Easter eggs emulating things that Han Solo (Harrison Ford) did in some of the movies.

I think it was a bit of all of them, really. J.J. wanted a version. Adam wanted a version. I just wanted to pay homage. All I wanted is that when Kylo was Ben, that there was something slightly different about him. Just in his costume as well, it helped it a little bit. It was the undershirt so it looked a bit different and it made him look lighter. I think we did something different with his hair as well. So just that nuance to the eye would have made a change, and then Adam just did his own thing.

Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney

We did say, 'How about when Harrison does this and when Harrison did that in that movie, should we put [it] in?' Which he did.

I'd say it was predominantly Adam, really. He really researches his character. He comes in very, very well prepared as an actor, which again just makes my life very easy. I'd say that was all Adam, with me and J.J. maybe adding a little bit of salt and pepper, that's all."

Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney

THE DYAD IN TANDEM

"We considered [the dyad] all the time with each of [their] choreography. That was J.J.'s vision from day one.

Even in the very, very first draft of the script, that was always his vision, [that their styles] were always going to be intercut. We knew that. We just considered it when we were doing the choreography.

It was quite an easy process because we fully understood the vision that J.J. wanted. And I always knew the editor is just going to enhance it. You know, the impact of it is going to be so well-told on the screen.

Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney

We did [the separate fights] with the doubles. At that point, it was hard getting the actors because filming was so intense for both of them. So we did it with the doubles.

It was a well-worked-up sequence and it was planned that way. The plan worked well."

Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney

PALPATINE DRAINING THE DYAD

"I mean that was just all the actors, really. At that point, it was easy for Daisy to be exhausted. It was virtually the last day of filming, as well, so it was easy for Daisy to be very exhausted.

Whenever we choreograph a fight and whenever we're going through the beats, we're always very clear on where the character is and how much energy the character is bringing in. And that's where J.J. is great because he has a great manner in which he explains to the actors exactly what he envisions the character to be, and what they're doing. So it was very little from me, if I'm honest. It was a great compilation of J.J. directing the guys.

Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney

For example, while we were rehearsing, we would put Daisy and Adam — but on separate occasions — in a harness and we'd have a push-pull kind of thing. We'd have them fighting against that push-pull and saying, “This is the exhaustion you should be feeling at the end when you drop to your knees and you're done. This is how empty you are at that point.”

And they love it because they just embraced anything that we wanted to bring them so that they knew where they were with the characters. So, we did do R&D work with them, but I have to say, they were so good that they always found it, if that makes sense."

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is available now on digital and is available on Blu-ray and 4K on March 31, 2020.

Veteran Jedi Academy PC Players Are Joining Online Console Games and Slaughtering Opponents @ io9

The people wanted crossplay in games, and they got it. After debuting on the original Xbox and PCs back in 2003, Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy has been ported to the Nintendo Switch and PS4, complete with online multiplayer. But new players are finding that feature a challenge as veteran PC players have figured…

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Margot Robbie rolled with actual roller-derby pros for Birds of Prey role @ Syfy Wire

1p>Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) showed off its antiheroine's titular emancipation in as many messed-up ways as possible. Shooting up a police station, getting crazy drunk, cutting her own hair, and — yes — even roughing up some folks at the roller derby. Star Margot Robbie may have had some experience with stunts, skates, and supervillains thanks to her previous filmography, but shooting her rollerskate-centric fights required an expert's touch.

The process behind this is put on full display in one of Birds of Prey's special features from its digital release, out now. Director Cathy Yan's film came stuffed with extras, and one was all about the film's New 52-inspired roller derby. "In the New 52 comic, there's a roller-derby fight-club situation," Robbie said. "I love that comic book. I kept saying, 'We have to have roller derby, we have to have roller derby.'"

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Enter the film's skating technical advisor: Rachel Rotten. She and Robbie's skating stunt doubles, Jocelyn Kay and Michelle Steilen, helped craft the early scene where Harley trucks some ladies on wheels. "She's the only comic book character on roller skates," Steilen said. "The roller-skating community loves Harley Quinn. The fact that she's on skates in a film? We're gonna go crazy over this."

That scene's skaters are all roller-derby pros, which meant that those behind the camera didn't need to worry about their abilities — this is just what those pros do. "We are introduced to [Harley] skating as a very aggressive roller-derby player," Rotten said. "That aggression has to carry throughout the film and into the other action scenes that feature the roller skating. There is absolutely an element of who Harley is and how Margot will have to skate."

This meant learning a totally different kind of movement. "It's really about getting her as comfortable on wheels as she was on ice," Rotten explained, referring to Robbie's Oscar-nominated performance as Tonya Haring in I, Tonya. "I definitely underestimated how hard it would be, because I thought, 'Oh, I've done I, Tonya, I've done a lot of ice skating — throw some wheels on and it'll be the same thing.' It definitely wasn't as painful as ice skating, I have to say."

Learning to stop on a dime and learning to embrace all the speed that comes from being whipped around by another skater were just a few techniques that Robbie needed for her scenes. Then, when it came to the crazier parts of the fights toward the end where Harley is wearing the skates, Robbie's primary stunt double, Renae Moneymaker, stepped in.

"Doing a fight scene is difficult in its own right, but then you put roller skates on your feet and it changes everything," Moneymaker said. "Margot is so good on the skates that anything short of those bigger double gags, she was able to do just fine." But doing some of the flip-fighting that blended gymnastics, skating, and martial arts? Moneymaker took the wheel there. Rachel Rotten would be proud.

Birds of Prey is out on home video now.

Fossilized Vomit and Feces Are Delighting Paleontologists @ io9

Fossil skeletons tell us a great deal about extinct species; we couldn’t piece together ancient life without them. Just as important, however, are the fossils that may not immediately tug at our imaginations, fill us with awe, or even be recognizable to non-paleontologists. The traces that an animal made during its…

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Sotheby's Is Auctioning 40,000 DC Comics From a Single Unprecedented Collection @ io9

There are many epic comic book collections out there, but few have garnered intrigue and infamy quite like the Ian Levine collection—alleged to be one of the few complete collections of DC’s comics from its very beginnings in 1935. Now it’s no longer not just alleged, but going up for sale to the highest bidder.

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NASA is wielding a superpowered ion engine to redirect asteroids next year @ Syfy Wire

1p>Maybe Deep Impact isn’t happening yet (though the enemy there was a comet), but the threat of an asteroid head-butting Earth and making humans as extinct as the dinosaurs doesn't only exist in science fiction.

NASA is taking no chances. Because we don’t want our species to go the way of the brontosaurus, the space agency has been upgrading its DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission so it can take off next July. DART is powered by NASA’s Evolutionary Xenon Thruster—Commercial (NEXT-C), a powerful ion engine that is now being tested for the mission. It will get a chance to show what it’s made of in a demo that will have it confronting the non-threatening binary asteroid system Didymos.

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NEXT-C may not be a rocket engine that needs an immense amount of thrust to lift off, but it’s one of the most powerful ion drives ever. It has triple the power of the NSTAR drives on NASA’s Dawn and Deep Space One spacecraft, and those were not to be messed with. Its thruster and power processing unit (PPU) are its primary components. The thruster went through a gauntlet of tests, including vibration, thermal vaccum and performance trials, plus extreme launch vibration and the brutal cold of space, before scientists determined it was ready to join forces with the PPU.

Just to give an idea on how powerful NEXT-C is, it is capable of 6.9 kilowatts thrust power. Replace thrust power with electricity, and that many kilowatts could keep fourteen 32-inch plasma TVs running. Thrust times duration over motor burn time is its total impulse. It beats out every other ion engine’s total impulse, and its specific impulse, the fuel efficiency of a rocket engine, is much higher than NSTAR’s.

Credit: NASA

Ion drives like NEXT-C don't burn fuel like a rocket engine. They are usually fueled with xenon through a chamber that encounters one of two accelerator grids, and the xenon ions are charged positive with the electricity absorbed by solar arrays. The negative charge of the second grid instantly draws the positively charged ions, which produces monster thrust by propelling them out of the engine and blasting the spacecraft into the sky.

DART will be collaborating with the Italian Space Agency’s LICIA (Light Italian Cubesat for Imaging of Asteroids) cubesats, when it reaches Didymos B. Smashing into this asteroid is predicted to change its rotation period by altering its orbital velocity by half a millimeter per second. Telescopes on Earth will be able to see this. As the spacecraft tries to push the asteroid out of the way, LICIA will image the process and capture impact debris to bring back to Earth. While DART will be crushed by the collision after leaving behind a huge crater, the ESA’s upcoming Hera mission will later get a closeup of the impact’s effects and the innards of this asteroid.

Didymos might not be on a deadly trajectory, but at 2,560 feet in diameter, Didymos A, the larger of the two asteroids, is about the size of something that could turn our planet into a post-apocalyptic nightmare. What happened 66 million years ago could easily happen again if something out of space comes for us.

The impact of the Chicxulub asteroid didn’t obliterate almost everything in one day. It set off volcanoes that belched enormous flows of magma and basically set the planet on fire. Whatever didn’t burn out from the heat, choke on ash, drown in a tsunami or starve after its food sources died out faced a killer nuclear winter. So much ash was sent flying into the sky that it blocked solar light and heat necessary for the survival of most life-forms on Earth. Whatever didn’t perish during the first round froze to death in the second. Most plants withered. Not many creatures made it out alive.

If the DART demo works, that will mean Earth has at least one defense against another dinopocalypse.

(via Phys.org/NASA)

Star Trek: Picard finally gave Deanna Troi the love she's always deserved @ Syfy Wire

1p>There have been plenty of good Star Trek episodes focused on Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) over the years. The good counselor of the USS Enterprise-D on Star Trek: The Next Generation was always there to help her fellow crewmates or sense that something was afoot, and every now and then an episode would give her the spotlight — “Face of the Enemy” in Season 6 comes to mind as being an excellent one.

Even so, Troi never quite got the showcase she deserved until Star Trek: Picard, which gave her the best episode she's ever had.

You get the feeling every now and then that TNG never really figured out what to do with the character. As far as Season 1 is concerned, there are long stretches where she doesn’t appear at all. Other episodes feature great work from Marina Sirtis but aren’t necessarily favorites (“The Child” in Season 2). Most of our favorite Troi moments come when she’s a supporting character in other stories focused on others — Riker (constantly), Worf (especially in “Ethics”), Barclay (in almost every episode he’s in), etc. Then there are the movies.

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The TNG films almost forget that she exists. She takes the helm briefly in Star Trek: Generations, has a hilarious scene of being drunk in Star Trek: First Contact, rekindles with Riker in Star Trek: Insurrection, and then deals with some Shinzon mind invasion in Star Trek: Nemesis. She is never given anything in these movies that would count as an actual subplot, though — that honor goes to Data in every single film.

She’s always there to help and support others in all of her appearances. When she has a crisis of her own, she deals with it, but these episodes are few and far between, and even then, they aren’t necessarily all-time favorites. We always loved Deanna, but it’s our opinion that she never received the proper showcase with which to really shine.

That changed with Star Trek: Picard in the episode “Nepenthe.” It features Deanna Troi at her very best, with Marina Sirtis at the height of her powers.

A great deal of this episode features Troi serving in her vocation — being a counselor. She gives much-needed advice to Picard (as well as some necessary tough love), and she also gives warm counsel to Soji, who at this point in the season is utterly lost. We see her here as a wife and as a parent, and she hasn’t lost a single counseling step.

That's on the surface, though. She is undergoing immense grief of her own, as her first child with her Imzadi died years before. That’s why they are on this planet, and that’s why they’ve stayed. She is processing immense heartache and guilt, and she doesn’t really know how to move past it.

Other characters in crisis can rely on the wise words of Deanna Troi to get them through the tough times, but where does Troi herself go? What happens when the counselor needs a counselor?

She’s had dramatic moments of crisis before. She lost her telepathy in “The Loss,” had and lost a space-child in the aforementioned “The Child,” and so on — but this is a situation with a depth that we’ve never seen her go through before. Not really. We suppose if Guinan (or Beverly Crusher) were around she’d have somewhere to turn, but they aren’t. She has to remain a rock for her family, and for the two runaways that just showed up on her doorstep. No cracks are allowed in her professional veneer.

The most incredible moment of the episode comes when a crack shows itself anyway. She breaks down just a little in front of Jean-Luc, lets it get personal for just a moment, and admits that she’s not as strong as she used to be. Picard tells her that’s because she’s gained wisdom, and he’s not wrong. Wisdom comes through experience, and they’ve all gotten a ship full of that in the years since Data first sang "Blue Skies."

It wasn’t until she said that line to Picard that we realized what strength this character has always had. When not in the midst of a wacky (yet enjoyable, always) sci-fi episodic convention, Troi was always strong and dependable for everyone. She was also warm and trusting. You could rely on her when you could rely on no one else.

When she first appeared on Picard, though, we realized that we’d always taken that warm, reliable trust for granted. She enters toward the middle of the season, and everything is awful. Nobody trusts anyone, everyone is suffering, and it feels like the galaxy is burning. Everyone is turning Picard away like he’s a 50-foot Gorn made of randy trash.

Deanna appears with a warm embrace, says she’ll help however she can, and suddenly we're all OK. Picard is OK, Soji is OK, and we the viewers are OK. Our rock of trust is here. We never fully appreciated her before, but damn did we need her in that moment.

“Nepenthe” continues to be an ensemble affair, with Picard, Riker, and the crew of the La Sirena all getting in their necessary moments. It’s Deanna’s episode, though. We needed her counsel, and we also needed someone to actually take the time to ask if she herself is okay. She’s not okay, but she will be.

This was no “oh no, Mother’s coming on board and I have another random love interest” episode for her. It was no funny toss-off line about breasts firming up, or whatever that was. Without even being the focus of the episode, Deanna Troi proved once and for all that she’s capable of so much more than that, and Sirtis plays notes that she'd never gotten the chance to play before: strong, yet vulnerable; professional, yet personal; stern, yet loving. That's Deanna Troi, and it always has been. It's just never been as clearly depicted.

She proves here to be the embodiment of all the messages of Trek, though, like everyone else on this show, she's still "working on it." She's not perfect, but she has no ego to maintain. She also showcases another superpower, one that’s constantly overlooked in our society. It’s not just because her Betazoid telepathy makes her a natural at it, either.

In the episode, she proves what the power of empathy can do, especially when talking with Soji. A newly activated synth who was just told her entire life is a lie by a lying, abusive Romulan boyfriend? It would challenge any psychiatrist, but Troi is on it. She can't use her telepathic insights with Soji, no more than she could with Data. She doesn't need to, though. She's a natural at it with or without the gifts of her species. Even when Deanna is breaking apart on the inside, her empathy and compassion for others never waivers.

She’s a character that we all could learn a lot from, especially right now... some of us just hadn’t noticed. Star Trek: Picard made us take notice at last.


The Tech in Westworld's Episode 3 Shocker Is Already Here and Much Worse Than You Think @ io9

The latest episode of Westworld had a huge reveal about the real world outside of the parks, one that embodies the show’s latest motto that “free will is not free.” The whole thing might seem far-fetched, like human robots, but it’s actually terrifying once you realize predictive algorithms are already here...and have…

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Gen-Z heroes arise in first look at Marvel Comics' X-Men: Children of the Atom @ Syfy Wire

1p>Embracing the boundless energy and reckless spirit of teenage mutant crimefighters, a new X-Men spinoff series hatched by Marvel Comics is poised to introduce readers to a fresh generation of Zoomer superheroes operating in the shadow of their legendary veteran colleagues — and SYFY WIRE is delivering an exclusive peek into the premiere issue.

X-Men: Children of the Atom is billed with the brash claim of being "the greatest teenage superhero team of all time." Their debut was originally planned for Apr. 15, but due to the recent health crisis in the world, Marvel is postponing the release until May. Blasting out of writer Jonathan Hickman's Dawn of X relaunch of the entire X-Men line last year, this dynamic series is written by acclaimed writer Vita Ayala (Nebula, The Wilds) with intense artwork courtesy of Bernard Chang (Teen Titans, Wonder Woman).

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Credit: Marvel Comics

Meet the next iteration of homo superior and learn who these kickass X-Men sidekicks are as they strive to carve out an identity all their own in a crowded landscape of extrahuman crusaders. These ambitious mystery mutants assemble in the cover image below, overseen by their more seasoned mentors Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Angel and Gambit.

With a main cover via artist R.B. Silva, and variants by Jim Lee, Todd Nauck, and Tom Muller, Children of the Atom originally sprang from the mind of Marvel editor Chris Robinson, who posed the question: What if the X-Men had Generation Z sidekicks?

Credit: Marvel Comics

“I have never known a world without mutants and the X-Men, and to be able to create characters that would become part of the canon is wild," Ayala explains. "I love them very much. Bernard, Chris, and I have worked so hard on them, and I was practically itching to let them out into the world so others could love them too.

"What makes the new cast special to me is that they are reflective of a lot of people I know who look up to what the X-Men stand for, and have taken it upon themselves to further those ideals. These kids are exactly the kids who, in real life, have posters of Storm and Wolverine in their rooms, who grew up seeing them as heroes and want to live up to that.”

Credit: Marvel Comics

Now charge into our exclusive look at Marvel Comics' X-Men: Children of the Atom #1 in the full gallery below and introduce yourself to the heir apparants of Professor Xavier's mythical mutant warriors.

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist recap: Feelings overload @ Syfy Wire

1p>This week on Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, Zoey experienced the first "glitch" in her abilities after getting some real tough news — and unfortunately, that means she was the one belting out her feels without filter to anyone who happened to be in range.

We're Courtney Enlow and Carly Lane, and watching this episode made us wish the floor would open up and swallow us whole from the SHEER VICARIOUS AWKWARDNESS OF IT ALL. (On that note: give Jane Levy all the awards, please.)

Warning: Spoilers within for Season 1, Episode 8 of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist.

Credit: NBC

Zoey’s First Glitch

Carly: As unexpected as the twists and turns on this show have been, I can honestly say that I did NOT anticipate this week’s curveball: Zoey is singing her own heartsongs, but what makes that a less-than-ideal sitch is the fact that, in the words of the illustrious Missy Elliott, the music is making her lose control, AND it’s happening in places where she’s doing it out loud, proud and totally in-your-face. While she can hear the accompanying track and see the back-up dancers in her head, all everyone else sees is a woman who can’t stop herself from breaking out into spontaneous song and choreography. And when I say she can’t stop herself, I mean she LITERALLY cannot stop herself. 

Courtney: Carly, I cringed so hard the lower half of my body very nearly almost sucked up inside of the top half. I haven’t cringed this much at a television episode since “Scott’s Tots.” 

Carly: Of course, in typical ZEP fashion, this power glitch happens to be related to something Zoey herself is repressing on an emotional level (which we’ll get to later in the recap), but before she comes around to facing her feelings head-on, we’re treated to some pretty fabulous musical interludes, including a wild performance of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” that alerts her co-worker Leif to the fact that she knows about his little dalliance with ladyboss Joan. 

Courtney: Give Jane Levy all the Emmys for that scene. This was some Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar-level physical comedy and my GOD does she do the absolute most this whole episode.

Carly: Sidebar, Courtney, but what are your thoughts on this whole Joan/Leif dynamic? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure they’re just using each other and I have a feeling the entire thing is going to implode in a spectacular fashion, which will probably lead to the mood in the SPRQ Point office being a big downer.

Courtney: So this could go two ways: 1) Leif thinks he’s being the user and it will blow up in his face, 2) Joan actually likes Leif/a younger more submissive man being into her (the opposite of her ex-husband) and she’ll end up hurt. I WANT THE FIRST THING.

Credit: NBC

Team Max vs. Team Simon: Redux

Carly: Ohhhh, boy. The Max-Zoey-Simon love triangle returned in a big way this week as a result of our girl not being able to withhold her emotions. But even though she sang to both dudes this week, her song choices were telling, as Max astutely points out after he walks in on Zoey and Simon mid-interlude. “I Want You To Want Me” feels very much like a song about lust or infatuation, and as for “I’m Yours”? Well, that’s got love (or at least something deeper) written all over it. And then when Zoey and Simon finally kiss… I don’t know about you, Courtney, but I sensed that the vibes between them might actually be more off than Zoey realized from a safe, non-smooching distance. Whatever her feelings are for Simon, there’s also no arguing with the truth of physical chemistry, and I suspect Zoey might have just gotten a big cold bucket of reality water dumped on her in terms of one half of this triangle. Affection does not equal attraction, friends!

Courtney: Crushes from afar are fine! But the second s*** gets real and you discover “oh no, we touched lips, he grazed my sideboob (I SAW THAT, SIMON), and now there’s a very rightfully pissed off bride whose engagement party I already lit on fire” that takes things to a level of too much. And that’s the difference between Max and Simon — Zoey is terrified at the prospect of losing this person who means the world to her so she’s choosing nothing, but when it comes to Simon, there’s a part of her who wants to literally burn the world around her down. And that is never the healthy choice.

Credit: NBC

This Week’s Dose of Clarke Family Feels

Carly: HOW DARE THIS SHOW. HOW DARE IT. First of all: hat tip to whoever on the music supervision team decided to repurpose “How Do I Live” (which has always been very much a romantic ballad) as a father-daughter love song. I still can’t get over Jane Levy’s heart wrenching performance, because I have mad respect for anyone who manages to belt it OUT while crying. Not that I have any personal experience with that, at all, nope, never.

Courtney: The second the song started I was like OH GOD THE KLEENEX IS TOO FAR AWAY. I wasn’t prepared for those Con-Air Soundtrack feels. But the added layer of Mitch reaching up and touching her face — and both of them knowing that’s a thing he’ll never do again — was just GUTTING.

Carly: It takes most of the episode, but by the time Zoey finally gets around to answering her mom’s calls, it’s clear that her glitches are a result of her direct avoidance of her family in the wake of some pretty gutting news from her dad’s doctor about his condition. I think Zoey, as well as her mom and brother, were hopeful that Mitch was still a long ways off from reaching the point where treatment would no longer be effective in managing his symptoms, but that doctor’s visit left her in denial about certain inevitabilities that she wasn’t willing to acknowledge right away. It’s such a relatable feeling, too, as is the moment when Zoey takes advantage of wearing her heartsong on her sleeve to express her love to her dad as openly as she can. This show knows how to pull the emotional rug out from under me, and I’m not even mad about it.

Courtney: Hope is a terrible thing sometimes. When his medication was helping, when they had the buzzer, when they went out on the water, I think they all believed even a tiny, untrustworthy bit, that things might be OK. But that’s not always how it works out. And it’s heartbreaking.

What’s Next

Carly: Gosh, I really don’t know. At this point, all I want is for Zoey to spend as much quality time with her fam as she can, make some good memories with her dad, maybe get back to regular movie nights with Max (I know things are Complicated between them right now but I don’t like it when they fight, it makes me sad!). Oh, and a Zak Orth song. Can we get a Zak Orth song, pretty please? The man’s been making smoothies left and right, he needs a musical number. 

Courtney: GIVE US THE ORTH, PEOPLE. Clearly, we’re ending this season with a funeral and I’m not ready and I need something to give me hope and joy. Zak Orth is that hope and joy. Simon is a complication and Max is a salve. CHOOSE THE SALVE, ZOEY. THERE IS NO ROOM FOR COMPLICATIONS IN THIS CLIMATE. 

How Dan Fogler went from doodling Ninja Turtles in school to geeking out with the Flash @ Syfy Wire

1p>The year was 1986, and what a big year for popular culture it was. Studio Ghibli released its first feature film, Ripley fought the Alien Queen, Ferris Bueller took the day off, Watchmen rolled out its very first issue, and a young Dan Fogler fell in love with comic books.

During an interview with SYFY WIRE about his three upcoming comics from Heavy Metal (all of them go on sale this summer), the Fantastic Beasts actor probed his memory to try and pinpoint the moment when he first became acquainted with the medium of panels and superheroes.

"I was 10 years old and I saw an oversized comic book in my brother’s collection and I said, ‘Ooo, what’s that?’ And it was f***in' Heavy Metal, man," he says. "Then I saw Heavy Metal the movie. I obviously was looking at the stuff way too young, but it was a huge influence on me."

Dating back to the late 1970s, Heavy Metal is a magazine that prides itself on publishing original comics that inhabit dark worlds of sci-fi and fantasy. Fogler's graphic novels — Brooklyn Gladiator, Fishkill, and Moon Lake — definitely fall into those categories, exploring dystopian futures, jaded homicide detectives, and a northern town populated by every conspiracy theory you've ever heard of coming to life.

Credit: Adam Taylor/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

From there, the floodgates were open and Fogler's life would never be the same. He didn't know it yet, but his passion for properties like Mirage Studios' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Marvel's famous wall-crawler would set him down a path of becoming a professional storyteller himself.

"I used to draw Raphael on my notebook in school and people were like, ‘Who’s that?!’ And I’d be like, ‘Oh, man, you have no idea,’" Fogler recalled. "I was into the craze before the cartoon and the whole ‘Cowabunga, man!’ thing. And, of course, I grew up in New York, so I loved all of the Marvel New York characters — Punisher and Daredevil and Spider-Man."

Comics about Wolverine, Batman, and the Joker (still the actor's favorite villain of all time) also topped the list of what Fogler was reading back in the day. Since then, his appreciation for the field has grown exponentially.

"Over the years, I’ve just continued to fall in love more with comic books, because they’re just getting better and better," he admits.

Credit: IDW Publishing

By the time he was ready to write his own graphic novels about dystopian futures and jaded detectives, Fogler was an expert in crafting unique characters and dialogue. Not only did he have the experience of making movies and television shows under his belt, but he also spent countless hours of his formative years reading comic books and playing tabletop RPGs.

"We played Dungeons & Dragons and Marvel Super Heroes," he continues. "You’re creating your own characters and then you’re drawing your own characters and you’re writing histories for [them] and then you’re playing [as] them in the game. It’s asking you to be creative and create your own world."

Soon, those RPGs could not be contained and would spill out into "little comic books" that Fogler would draw, while his brother handled writing duty. Then came home movies (complete with storyboards, of course), which served as a forerunner to a lifetime of joyous pretend.

"I made a bunch of movies and I’ve made a bunch of storyboards for movies, so it definitely translates over," he says, referring to his career so far. "[Comics are] like a streamlined film. You have to tell the bare minimum to get the idea across on the page."

Credit: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

Personally, Fogler tries to limit the pages of his own comics to seven panels or so but is often in awe of how others can push the medium to its absolute breaking point. He cited Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta's East of West as one of his favorite comics in recent memory. The monthly series from Image, which ended last December, had certain pages made up of dozens of panels.

"I’m just like, ‘Oh my god!’ It just works," Fogler adds. "I think that it’s just a certain alchemy that happens with the storytelling and sometimes, anything goes and certain people can just make everything work on the page ... I really admire these people, like Greg Capullo who does the Batman stuff with Scott Snyder. I feel like he’s [Todd] McFarlane 2.0 or something. He just keeps on putting out amazingly detailed stuff. I’m just really impressed with that. That’s why he’s working for DC on a consistent basis."

For his Heavy Metal books, Fogler collaborated with some of his personal illustrative heroes like Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night) and Simon Bisley (DC's Lobo). Working with people that helped shape his upbringing is the literal definition of "a dream come true."

"I just love writing a script, giving it to some artist that I grew up reading ... and then having them—in a relatively short amount of time—give you something that you can hold in your hands, [seeing] the art and the colors and everything," he explains. "It’s like having a little movie in your hand, but it’s almost better. I don’t know why. It speaks to the kid in me. It makes the kid in me very happy."

Credit: Heavy Metal

Luckily, Fogler has been able to share his love of comics with some of his Hollywood co-stars like Jay Baruchel and Ezra Miller. Fogler and Baruchel appeared in 2009's Fanboys, an unabashed love letter to nerd culture that tells the story of a wacky road trip to Skywalker Ranch. Miller meanwhile appears alongside Fogler in the Fantastic Beasts movies as Obscurus Credence Barebone.

"When we were on Fanboys, that’s how [Jay] and I started talking," Fogler says. "We were talking about our favorite comic book characters and then that was it. It was almost like we were already our characters from the movie, you know? And I feel like Ezra is definitely a comic book guy... He’s become a buddy and he definitely wants to make sure the Flash movie is comic book-accurate."

Credit: Trigger Street Productions / AMC / Warner Bros.

Fogler also plays Luke on AMC's The Walking Dead, a role that combines his loves of acting and comic books. Once again, it's a literal dream come true.

"It’s cool being on The Walking Dead; it’s just cool being a character that exists in the comic book," Fogler says. "Robert Kirkman’s my boss! I geek out around him. It’s just weird to be working for, minging, and [being] friends with people whose work you are a fanboy over. It’s such a surreal experience."


Now You Can Watch a Valiant Universe Movie Featuring Bloodshot, But Not Vin Diesel @ io9

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Snyder reveals plans for alternate timeline, Flash in scrapped Justice League sequel @ Syfy Wire

1p>If you thought Zack Snyder was done talking about his plans for the DCEU that never saw the light of day, then you've got another thing coming, bub. Over the weekend, the filmmaker sat down and provided a running director's commentary on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. While the video clocks in at over three hours, it is chock full of interesting tidbits about the comic book film.

One really interesting moment comes when Snyder breaks down Barry Allen's cosmic treadmill trip back in time to warn Batman (Ben Affleck) about Lois Lane (Amy Adams) being "the key." During this scene, the Flash (Ezra Miller) also implores Bruce to "find us" (meaning the Justice League) and informs Wayne that his fears about Superman (Henry Cavill) are indeed valid.

Per Snyder, all of this would've set the stage for a future Justice League movie, where he wanted the team to realize that Barry's warning in Dawn of Justice came too early. This prompts them to send Flash back to the past for the second time, which results in an alternate timeline.

"I had this idea that in the future when [the Justice League] are talking about sending Flash back in time to warn him [Bruce Wayne]," he said. "Cyborg, whose doing the calculation to send him back, would say, 'I have two possibilities of where to send Flash back in time. The numbers point to two moments to warn you [Bruce] ... Like if it's right near the moment where this event might happen—where Lois might get killed, or Bruce isn't able to stop it, however that's happening—it would be important if Flash came closer to that moment, so that Bruce could understand the reality of it."

Confused? Don't worry, things tend to mess with your mind when the space-time continuum is involved. According to CBR, Flash's short BvS warning ties into Snyder's plan for Justice League 2, where the team was going to fight Darkseid on Apokolips and lose. The villain was then supposed to kill Lois, corrupt Superman with the Anti-Life Equation, and takes over Earth. This would fulfill the apocalyptic "Knightmare" dream Bruce glimpses in Dawn of Justice.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Justice League 3 would've gone full Avengers: Endgame as the fractured team sends Allen back to a more critical period in time when Bruce has the ability to save Lois and prevent Darkseid from winning. Flash is successful and establishes a new timeline where the League, now whole and untainted by the stink of defeat, rebuffs Darkseid's invasion of the planet.

"And so, in the future Bruce says to Cyborg, 'Well, what times would you send me back [to]? What time right now would you send me back?' And [Cyborg] says, 'I'm leaning toward this.' And Bruce says, 'Do the other one, because you already sent me that one and it was too early, so send me to the other one,'" Snyder continued. "So that's how he's able to send [Flash] back again. Because in the new timeline, he goes to a different point in time that's closer to the event that we haven't seen yet in this film."


Steven Universe's Rebecca Sugar Reflects on the Past, Present, and Future of Her Sublime Journey @ io9

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Looking back at Stephanie Brown's time as Robin @ Syfy Wire

1p>As we wish Robin a happy 80th anniversary in April 2020, we're giving thanks for the Dick Graysons and the Tim Drakes of the Bat-franchise. Yet, though we are grateful for the highlights, we can’t help but think of the Robins who didn’t exactly get their due. At the top of that list is Stephanie Brown, whose stint as Robin could have been great, but went awry at almost every turn.

After her catastrophic turn as Robin, Stephanie Brown was deceased and her story used as a warning to young crime fighters not to follow in her footsteps. Though she did return from the dead and even enjoyed a lengthy stint as Batgirl, that came much later in the game after a lot of fans expressed frustration over how her character was treated.

Robin #126, writting by Bill Willingham, art by Damion Scott and Guy Major, lettering by Phil Balsman

The Spoiler

Stephanie’s first appearances were as the hero Spoiler, who is widely recognizable to all '90s Batman comic fans for her enormous purple cape and full face mask. She was the child of the villain Cluemaster and became a vigilante specifically to disarm the potential harm of her father’s schemes. Despite Batman’s disapproval of Stephanie (and literally any person he can’t completely control), Spoiler formed a strong bond with Tim Drake, and the two of them worked together and even began a romantic relationship.

When Tim’s father stepped in to put the kibosh on his time as Robin, he might have gone along with those wishes, but Stephanie was apparently secretly disappointed in him for doing so and doubled down on her training. After becoming frustrated with the period of relative inaction that followed Tim’s retirement, she made herself a homemade costume and showed up at the Batcave ready for duty.

Robin #126, written by Bill Willingham, art by Damion Scott and Guy Major, lettering by Phil Balsman

Robin

Alfred advised against taking on Stephanie as Robin, but Batman did not listen. In the beginning, he was supportive of Stephanie and helpful towards her training, but did very little to offset her insecurity and her overwhelming desire to prove herself. She grew even more distant towards Tim, not telling him the truth of her new partnership. This is understandable because when he does find out, he makes it about himself by immediately assuming that Batman only recruited Stephanie to get to him.

An assassin attempts to kill the Tim Drake Robin by simply killing every young man she encounters who looks like they might be him, which is truly, absurdly inefficient. When a female Robin turns up, she takes that to mean that she must have succeeded. With Stephanie’s help, Batman tracks her down. He tells Stephanie to wait in the plane while he goes to fight the killer, but Stephanie sees him in trouble and goes to help. When they make it back to the Batcave, he tells her she can’t be Robin anymore because she disobeyed his orders.

The entire Stephanie Brown-as-Robin story moves at an accelerated pace; it only lasts for a handful of issues that are supposed to span several months, beginning in Robin #126 and ending with Robin #128, so we see very little of her. This reads back as nothing if not a missed opportunity.

Batgirl #54, written by Dylan Horrocks, art by Rick Leonardi, Jesse Delperdang, and Jason Wright, lettering by Clem Robins

Death and Rebirth

When looking at Stephanie Brown's story, it’s important to note that Batman fails in his job as a mentor. Setting two strict rules and completely casting her out when she breaks one with the intention of saving his life is harsh and shows greater restriction than he imposed on the other Robins. Rather than working with her on her grievous mistake, he tells her that all of her work was meaningless and that she can never be a hero, no matter how much she’s done to prove herself. Her next choices are foolish, but he should have anticipated them. His lack of concern or care for her while constantly comparing her to her male predecessors is highly irresponsible and not at all how mentors are supposed to treat the young people they work with. The responsibility and the aftermath fall entirely on Stephanie’s shoulders despite the fact that Bruce put too much on her and then completely cut her out the second she did something he didn’t like. Stephanie’s personality was always more questioning and defiant than other Robins, and Bruce should have allotted for that when he made the choice to turn her loose.

Stephanie stole Batman’s foolishly unwatched plans for shutting down the criminal underbelly of Gotham. Reeling from what was, for her, a world-shattering rejection, she attempted to commence with these plans on her own but accidentally started a gang war among Gotham’s crime bosses. Black Hand kidnapped and tortured Stephanie to death.

The aftermath of this is not pretty. Longtime Batman supporting cast member Doctor Leslie Thompkins admits to purposefully letting Stephanie die so that Bruce would stop recruiting children in his war against crime. That is, of course, beyond unethical. Ultimately, this story was stricken from the continuity books when the New 52 reboot occurred and reintroduced Stephanie, this time as Batgirl.

Though Stephanie did bounce back from the failures of her time as Robin, we’re never going to fully get past the fact that what could have been a great story turned out to be nothing more but another woman fridged to teach Batman a lesson. However, Stephanie was still a great Robin. Her active mind and her ability to question Batman and call him out could have made for a lot of character growth for him if the franchise hadn’t taken the easy way out and thrown her under the bus to achieve less interesting results. So it is that, while we will be holding our glass high in the air for all the great Robins, we still must shed a tear for the one who got away.

Robin #127, written by Bill Willingham, art by Damion Scott and Guy Major, lettering by Phil Balsman

What's the Best Seat Cushion for Home Office Chairs? @ io9

If your butt hurts from sitting down working at home all the time half as much as mine does, you may be in need of an ergonomic seat cushion. From what I’ve heard (and read), most of the responses are bound to include a certain mix of red and blue. A brand whose name, you might say, rhymes with nurple.

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WIRE Buzz: Jurassic World: Dominion's Sam Neill talks delay; Creepshow S2 sneak peek; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Jurassic World: Dominion, the third film in the resurrected Jurassic Park franchise’s current run, has not been immune to the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on productions around the world. The film from returning director Colin Trevorrow stopped production two weeks ago, shortly after beginning principal photography. The movie was set to reunite original series stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum alongside the World actors Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard (among others). Now Neill, one of the original trio, has released a statement about the shutdown.

Speaking to Variety, Neill had minor frustration and major hope to share. “Suddenly, here we are. We have been cryogenically frozen, and Jurassic World: Dominion is on hold. Insects in amber. And like virtually every actor in the world right now, I’m not working. Dammit,” Neill said. 

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“But we will return. We will. And what joy it will be to be back on a set, doing what I love best, with just the kind of people I love: other actors and all the remarkable people it takes to make a movie,” the actor wrote. “That rare privilege. And to put things into perspective – there are many many worse things than a suspended movie.” A little level-headedness during a time when the entire entertainment industry has been waylaid by the virus. What else would fans expect from the man that made them believe he could see dinosaurs walk the earth and not totally flip out?

“It’s ironic that about the most helpful thing those of us who are unessential can do right now [and I never met an essential actor] is just stay at home, and stay the f…away from other people,” Neill concluded. “We are all in this together, but we are better apart….I still miss going to work though.”

Jurassic World: Dominion is scheduled for a June 11, 2021 release, though with production delays it may be bumped back.


Next, one show that’s production has been shut down hasn’t totally dropped off the web in the interim. The spider web, we mean. Anything less just wouldn’t be Creepshow, Shudder’s hit horror anthology that adapted the film into schlocky fun for its first season and, now, looks to deliver at least one eight-legged freak for Season 2...whenever that finally gets out.

Greg Nicotero, executive producer and director, posted the following video on Instagram and — just a warning — it is not for the arachnophobic:

“Even though filming for CREEPSHOW season 2 is delayed, I wanted to give you a little glimpse at one of the puppets IN PROGRESS before ‘the pause,’” Nicotero wrote. “A wee bit more hair work and need to connect controllers for body and mandible articulation. It’s tough to get too close to this cause I am terrified of spiders but good therapy I guess.”

The first season of Creepshow gave horrorhounds WWII werewolves, living scarecrows, and some of the ickiest special effects outside of The Walking Dead. While its production has been delayed, fans also know that the show’s ghoulish host (the titular Creep) is getting a facelift for the sophomore outing.


Finally, while the pandemic has caused some in the industry to sit on their hands, others are putting their considerable talents to work fighting back. His Dark Materials, the Philip Pullman fantasy adaptation that’s already been greenlit for a second season, likely won’t be coming back to HBO anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean its craftspeople can’t contribute to the world!

Costumers from the BBC co-production and more have pitched in to form the Helping Dress Medics initiative, a program raising money for these expert tailors to supply protective clothing to local hospitals. With over $10K raised in a single weekend, fabric has been ordered and scrubs will soon be made by those behind some truly fantastical outfits. In fact, even the costumer from the upcoming Batman film has joined in.

“I'm so delighted to report that this has gone way beyond any of our expectations - both in donations and also in offers of help. Many more costume makers have joined us and we have been able to order lots more fabric / make many more scrubs / reach other parts of the country,” the fundraiser organizer Dulcie Scott wrote in an update Monday morning.

This Xbox One S 1TB All-Digital Bundle Comes With a Spare Controller @ io9

Astrophysicist Gets Magnets Stuck in His Nose While Trying to Invent Face-Touching Alarm @ io9

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Arrow's original ending planned to have Oliver's death inspire Batman @ Syfy Wire

1p>After Arrow came to an end back in January (yes, it was only in January), fans were left with a sense of closure and a celebratory panel from stars Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards. But like all things in the entertainment world, even the end of the Arrowverse's origins had many alternate possibilities — as should be expected from a show so intertwined with the multiverse. In fact, the finale as originally planned would've shown how Oliver Queen's journey wasn't just inspirational to a legion of TV watchers, but influential on one of the most famous superheroes of all time: Batman.

Speaking on the Fake Nerd Podcast, Arrow creator and finale co-writer Marc Guggenheim explained that his original vision for Queen's end tied into the greater DC world.

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"I always saw the show ending with Oliver's death, but Oliver's death in the actual finale," Guggenheim said. "Then I kind of had a little bit of a fantasy that Oliver would die and you'd end with some sort of news broadcast talking about his legacy and that would sort of become the voice over." Obviously this isn't how things shook out considering that Queen didn't quite survive until his own finale. But that's not even the coolest part.

"And then you would go to this rooftop in a whole other city, and on the cut a thug or some bad guy would crash into the frame, having been punched off-screen," the writer said. "And these pair of black boots would come down right in front of him and there'd be a flutter of a scalloped cape and the voice over would say something along the lines of, 'Oliver Queen inspired a whole new generation of vigilantes.' The implication being, of course, that he inspired Batman. So that, of course, didn't happen for a variety of different reasons - not the least of which is Batwoman came along - but that was my original conception."

Inspiring Batman is pretty hard to justify when Bruce Wayne has apparently already had such an inspiring career that his cousin has picked up the mantle. Instead, this inspiration was transferred to Queen's daughter, Mia — hence the “Green Arrow & the Canaries” backdoor pilot.

Guggenheim also commented on the inclusion of stock footage for the DC Universe shows during the Crisis on Infinite Earths event. "It's a delicate balance," the writer said of the situation, because those shows were created with an "expectation that they would never have to participate in The CW crossover" - in fact there were "creative assurances and assurances to actors" that they wouldn't have to commit to it.

"This is an Arrowverse event, it’s done on the Arrowverse shows," Guggenheim said, "and when we were breaking the story, we were always trying to find the right balance between, ‘OK, well, how many non-Arrowverse characters should we bring into this.'" That's a tricky needle to thread because serious DC fans want ALL the DC possible, while more casual TV watchers may be confused by characters they "wouldn’t know and understand." So don't expect the Titans to show up during the next big event.

Arrow's final season aims to have a home release on April 28.

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