Rumble's First Trailer Introduces a World of Professional Kaiju Wrestling @ io9

Nerds love watching gargantuan kaiju beat the snot out of each other almost as much as they love watching professional wrestlers get greased up and brawl in the ring, which makes it surprisingly as hell that a movie like Paramount’s upcoming Rumble wasn’t made years ago.

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The New Letter for the King Trailer Promises a Kid-Driven Fantasy Epic @ io9

In the age of Game of Thrones and The Witcher, traditional medieval fantasy TV has leaned more toward the adult focused aspects of the genre—blood, guts, boobs, and then occasionally some dragons (perhaps even multiple of the above at once). So it’s nice to see a fantasy saga that takes the production values of those…

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WIRE Buzz: American Horror Story S10 reveals cast; No Time to Die is longest Bond; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>American Horror Story co-creator Ryan Murphy confirmed the all-star cast for Season 10 today via Instagram. Across two videos of waves crashing against the shore on an overcast beach day, we learn that Kathy Bates, Macaulay Culkin, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Adina Porter, Lily Rabe, Anjelica Ross, and Finn Witrock will all appearing.

Everyone (except Culkin) is an alum of the popular anthology.

"Ryan is like an annual ritual [in] that he loves the act of imagination and doing something new and ground up with the genre, casting, makeup, hair, etc.," FX boss John Landgraf said at the TCA winter tour in early January. "Every year [he] figures out what he’s obsessed with and what is relevant, and then he surprises me, telling me what it will be. [It's] poetic that AHS is going to have 13 seasons. It just felt right."

There's no word on when production begins or when fans will get to see any footage/images, but the series isn't going anywhere. American Horror Story has been renewed through Season 13.


Well, it's official: No Time to Die is going to be the longest James Bond film in history at 2 hours, 43 minutes. The lengthy runtime was revealed on the AMC Theaters website (see below). It makes perfect sense since this is Daniel Craig's final turn as 007. The movie needs plenty of time to wrap up any loose ends for this iteration of the character.

Spectre previously held the record of longest Bond runtime at 2 hours, 28 minutes.

Credit: AMC Theaters

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the 25th entry in the long-running espionage franchise finds Bond coming out of retirement to help his old friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright).

Lashana Lynch, Ana de Armas, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek, David Dencik, Dali Benssalah, Billy Magnussen, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Jeffrey Wright, and Christoph Waltz co-star.

No Time to Die opens in theaters Friday, April 10.


Today, Hulu announced that Tony Hale (VeepToy Story 4) had been cast in the streamer's adaptation of The Mysterious Benedict Society

Based on the books by by Trenton Lee Stewart, the Umbrella Academy-esque series is about a group of gifted orphans "who are recruited by an eccentric benefactor to go on a secret mission. Placed undercover at a boarding school known as The Institute, they must foil a nefarious plot with global ramifications, while creating a new sort of family along the way."

Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic / Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Hale is taking up the dual role of Mr. Benedict and his evil twin brother, Mr. Curtain. Benedict is described as "a rumpled, affable eccentric genius ...  the genial, cunning mastermind," while Curtain is said to be "frustratingly sharp, [and] well put-together."

Benedict is on the fence about putting the orphans in danger, but sees no other way around it. The world must be saved.

Production is expected to kick off in the near future.


Star Wars: The High Republic will change the way we look at Jedi for the better @ Syfy Wire

1p>After plenty of cryptic teasing, Lucasfilm and a collection of authors finally revealed Star Wars' mysterious "Project Luminous" earlier this week. Set 200 years before the Skywalker Saga, the Star Wars: The High Republic is a line-wide initiative of books and comics beginning in August staffed by veteran Star Wars writers such as Justina Ireland, Charles Soule, and Daniel Jose Older. It's a bold step for a franchise with a lot of promise, least of all because it may finally be an opportunity to change our view of the Jedi.

As iconic as the Jedi are, it's been easy for fans and non-fans of Star Wars to list their many grievances with the Light Side users of the Force. They take children from their homes to conscript them into wars and saddle them trauma; their downfall was in part due to their inability to address emotions of any kind, in turn making it incredibly easy for them to turn to the Dark Side. Despite being said to be protectors, they made no efforts to actually help Shmi Skywalker, a slave, and left her alone on a planet for a decade where she eventually was kidnapped and died. Intentional or not, their participation in the Clone Wars made them complicit in the Empire's eventual rise to power.

We've all heard or made these very legitimate complaints (and many more) in the past, and the Skywalker Saga and various titles spinning out support this. The Jedi failed Anakin Skywalker and Ben Solo emotionally, which led to catastrophic results. Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars was often used as a character to question the ways of the Jedi, resulting in her eventually walking away from the Order altogether after being falsely accused of a bombing. She was later proven innocent, but the damage was done. In the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, protagonist Cal Kestis is shown a potential future where his attempt to remake the Jedi Order with young Force users ends with them all dead.

When Anakin says the Jedi are evil from his perspective in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, it's hard to argue against it.

This is what makes the prospect of the High Republic so interesting. It's during a time when there are "true guardians of peace and justice...This was a golden age for the Jedi," in the words of Lucasfilm creative director Michael Siglain. With this new creative lease on life, it's a chance to right the wrongs of the Jedi in the relative present and show the cloaked space warriors as actual heroes for the first time. Concept art from Phil Noto showing multiple Jedi with ignited lightsabers doesn't have a grim irony to it as it did during the Clone Wars. They actually look like noble knights, and seeing them evokes a feeling of hope and wonder at seeing characters whose stories won't abruptly come to a dark end.

If the Jedi are said to be peacekeepers, show them as actual peacekeepers for everyone, not just for the large-scale battles that came to define the Clone Wars and the events afterward.

There's still plenty about the High Republic era we don't know, and it's unclear how it will evolve in the long term. But if its immediate goal is to give the Jedi a soft reboot and make them worthy of the heroic title they've been given for 43 years, it couldn't have come at a better time.

Saint Maud's Latest Spooky Trailer Is a Portrait of a Nurse on Fire @ io9

Normally, when people in horror movies suspect that they might be possessed by otherworldly beings, it’s cause for alarm, but for the nurse at the center of Rose Glass’ Saint Maud, the event’s something more of...a revelation, if you will.

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Stay the heck away from this bearded fireworm reeled in by a brave Texas angler @ Syfy Wire

1p>This recently wrangled bearded fireworm may look like a cute little catepillar, but it's far from fuzzy. So please, hands off.

Were Alyssa Ramirez to have made the unfortunate decision to touch the creature she caught while pier fishing last week in the Gulf of Mexico near Port Isabel, Texas, she'd likely have been injected with a powerful neurotoxin for her effort. That's the defense mechanism unleashed by this small-but-mighty nautical nemesis.

Not that Ramirez knew specifically what she was dealing with. But she did have the good sense to leave the rougly 3-inch creature alone.

“Luckily I didn’t have to touch it because it let go of my bait,” Ramirez told USA Today. “By the way it moved and the red colors it had, I knew not to touch it. I placed it on the rail of the pier [where it let go and] I took video and pictures of it…It wiggled around for a few minutes and then it fell into the water by itself.”

After encountering the creature that puts the wild in wildlife, Ramirez turned to the experts at the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) for identification help. Via their Facebook page, TPW quickly (well, after a dramatic tease asking the community to guess) identified the creature as a bearded fireworm.

“It’s a bearded fireworm, named for its painful sting,” the post notes. “These fireworms spend most of their time on the ocean floor but will flare out their bristles when disturbed.”   

Those bristles on its flanks are where the neurotoxin is injected. If you should unfortunately get stung by one, you can experience hours worth of pain that feels like your skin is on fire, and can cause dizziness and nausea. Thus the name “fireworm.”

But there’s another reason these tiny torturers — found in warm, shallow waters in and around the Atlantic Ocean — are fiery: they glow! According to Science and the Sea, a site linked to by TPW in their post, when fireworms come to the surface to mate, sometimes the female will produce “an enticing green glow.” Flirtatiously, the male will then wink back with his own flash of light.

Sounds alluring, right? Well, except for the fiery skin bit.


Debate Club: The 5 best DCEU movies, from Aquaman to Wonder Woman @ Syfy Wire

1p>Welcome to Debate Club, where Tim Grierson and Will Leitch, the hosts of the Grierson & Leitch podcast, tackle the greatest arguments in pop culture.

OK, so maybe the DC Extended Universe movies haven't exactly set the world on fire like the Marvel Cinematic Universe has. But then again, they're just getting started, and the last few have shown definite improvements.

So, today, we look at the top five DC Extended Universe movies so far. Hopefully, we'll have some movies knocking out the bottom few on this list in the next couple of years.

Why It's Hard, But Not Impossible, to Make a Board Game About Climate Change @ io9

Game designer Elizabeth Hargrave helped jumpstart a tabletop revolution with Wingspan, an environmental board game about creating habitats for birds. Her upcoming release, Mariposas, has players guiding monarch butterflies on their migration. But there’s something unsettling lurking beneath the table.

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WIRE Buzz: Netflix prunes 'Red Rose'; 'Connected' plugs in first-look images; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Red Rose, the eight-episode BBC horror series from Michael and Paul Clarkson (The Haunting of Hill House, SeeWheel of Time) will get a U.S. debut courtesy of Netflix, confirms Deadline. The streaming giant is working alongside Eleven (producer of Sex Education).

The story is said to follow a group of students who discover Red Rose, an app that prompts them to undertake a series of dangerous challenges. "One of the group, Rochelle Jackson, downloads the app and sets in motion a series of events that brings together the friends to tackle a seemingly supernatural entity," reads the description provided by Deadline.

Credit: Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto via Getty Images

“We’re thrilled that our first show will be with the BBC," the Clarkson siblings said when the show was first announced last August. "We’ve been working in L.A. for a while now, so the opportunity to return to the U.K. for our own show is incredible. Red Rose is a love letter to our hometown and childhood. We get to explore what challenges face the bright but opportunity starved teenagers of today. Working on The Haunting of Hill House has prepared us well to undertake this genre driven challenge. We can’t think of a better home for it than the BBC."

Production on the series is expected to kick off in the United Kingdom this June, with filming to take place around Manchester and Bolton.


In May 2018, we reported that Phil Lord and Chris Miller were producing a movie about a family forced to fight back against technology in the wake of a machine uprising. Originally titled The Mitchells vs. the Machines, the Sony Animation project has been retitled Connected. In addition, the studio has released two first-look images from the comedy, which opens in September.

Directed by Mike Rianda (Gravity Falls), Connected still follows the Mitchell clan as they set off on a road trip to move daughter Katie (voiced by Abbi Jacobson) into the film school of her dreams. The familial quest takes a sci-fi turn when "electronic devices people love – from phones, to appliances, to an innovative new line of personal robots – decide it’s time to take over. With the help of two friendly malfunctioning robots, the Mitchells will have to get past their problems and work together to save each other and the world!"

Credit: Sony Pictures

Credit: Sony Pictures

Danny McBride and Maya Rudolph are voicing Katie's mother and father (Rick and Linda), respectively. Rianda will portray her little brother, Aaron. Eric Andre and Olivia Colman are part of the cast as well, but their roles have yet to be disclosed.

The robot revolution begins when Connected opens in theaters Friday, Sept. 18.


Victoria Mahoney, the first female director of the Star Wars franchise, is developing a sci-fi series for Amazon alongside Ava DuVernay (New Gods, DMZ), Variety reported today.

Based on Dawn, the award-winning 1987 science fiction novel by Octavia E. Butler, the upcoming show is said to follow an "African-American woman who works with aliens to resurrect the human race 250 years after a nuclear war." Dawn is the first entry in Butler's "Lilith's Blood" trilogy, whose second and third installments are titled Adulthood Rites (1988) and Imago (1989).

Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic / Grand Central Publishing / Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The three books explore major themes like "sexuality, gender, and race." 

Per Amazon, the trilogy is known as "Xenogenesis."

Charles D. King, Allen Bain, Gary Pearl, and Thomas L. Carter are executive-producing.


Where to shop Harley Quinn's Birds of Prey closet @ Syfy Wire

1p>Since the first teaser trailer, sartorial expectations for Birds of Prey have been set at high. The explosion of color, sequins, and jackets made out of streamers and crime scene tape is exactly the kind of style statement we expect from Harley Quinn. Not only that, but this particular aesthetic is highly covetable: Who doesn't want a pair of gold pants in their closet? Harley's unique fashion sense has been evident since her comic book debut in 1992, which has evolved over the years from jester chic to garments that will brighten up any wardrobe.

The big Suicide Squad fashion moment came courtesy of Harley, which introduced the world to the tiniest sequin shorts and a very popular baseball tee that ensured fans could emulate this character at any comic-con. Birds of Prey does pay homage to that particular shirt, but costume designer Erin Benach takes Harley's multiple changes to the next level. And while the gold dungarees and winged disco streamer jacket dominate the posters and promotional images, there are many more sequin-infused garments to drool over in the movie. Breakups can lead to a desire to reinvent, and what better way to do it than with your clothing choices?

Credit: Warner Bros.

Recreating looks from movies isn't always the easiest endeavor for several notable reasons. The time lag between filming and release means any item that was bought off the rack will probably be unavailable. Fast fashion and high-end garments only have a certain shelf life online and in brick-and-mortar stores, which is why eBay and consignment sites — such as threadUP and the RealReal — could result in a Harley Quinn treasure trove success.

Knowing what the specific items are is the first part of this outfit scavenger hunt, which is where SYFY FANGRRLS comes in! We have found a variety of items as worn by Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey, as well as sourcing some alternatives that are currently still available — Dress Like Margot was also a huge help for those last few hard-to-identify items.

Benach told Fashionista that she took inspiration from "street and current fashion because it seemed right for this film." Brands including Isabel Marant are included among the custom garments, as well as more affordable labels such as This Is A Love Song and Cape Robbin. The mix of high with low is reflective of how a lot of people shop: paying a little bit more for investment pieces to wear with (sadly) more disposable fashion.

For that true Harley look, she has never met a sequin she doesn't want to wear, and she isn't afraid of adding her own indelible mark to punch up T-shirt or jacket to make it her own. Below you will find copies and alternatives to the best of Harley Quinn's Birds of Prey costumes, but for full cosplay alternatives, Etsy is a gold mine. For the streamer jacket, gold overalls, hot pink cropped top, and orange suspender desires, this is a one-stop shop.

Credit: Isabel Marant/MyTheresa

Pants

The gold overalls are the focal point of the Birds of Prey epic fight sequence, but Harley's metallic Isabel Marant leather pants that she wears in the final scene are pure rockstar chic. Costing several month's rent and sadly no longer available online (time to hit the consignment stores!), we have come up with a few alternatives. On the higher end of the budget — because we know Harley has expensive taste — Saint Laurent is serving up disco athleisure in a bronze hue effect. Harley's all about the high-waist silhouette, which is where ALEXACHUNG comes to play, and on the leather end of the splurge scale, Karen Millen has got you covered. Harley wears a silver pair of sequin pants earlier in the movie, but in gold, there is IRO and Free People for those sparkly disco fever days. On the more affordable end, give ASOS a sequined whirl, and American Apparel's survival delivers a leggings option.

Credit: United Nude 

Boots

One of the funniest moments in Birds of Prey comes courtesy of a shoe change, and while we don't have any roller skate options, Harley's ankle boots throughout are perfect for stomping around Gotham City. Before the aforementioned switch, Harley pairs gold boots with her instantly iconic overalls. This could be considered a bit too matchy-matchy, but she's never been bothered by cutesy conventions. We don't have an ID on the actual boots, but we do have some solid alternatives at various price points. For the '80s disco flashback, Salvatore Ferragamo is here for those dancing days, Marsèll has a unique take on this style, and the chunky heeled Charlotte Olympia boots are Harley-adjacent.

Credit: Isabel Marant/MyTheresa

The pair that get the most screen time shows up on-screen as part of her police station storming attire, as Harley opts for the sadly no longer available Isabel Marant white leather Cuban heel cowboy boots. The metal-tipped toes add a dash of edge while also being useful for a fight sequence. She clearly loves this style, as she also wears the ruched leather Isabel Marant booties for her night out at Roman's club. Available alternatives can be found at Topshop, MSGM, and a discounted Isabel Marant style resembling Harley's favorites. And to add some Harley fringe, check out this super affordable vegan Lemon Drop by Privileged offering.

Credit: Cape Robbin/Nordstrom Rack

Harley ditched her impractical Suicide Squad stilettos, but the similar clear mesh style she wears in Birds of Prey — all the better for seeing her sequined socks — are still on sale at United Nude. And while we're discussing sequins, she also favors the affordable Cape Robbin black sequined boots that were also sold in green and gold variations. We're cursing the day these sold out, because they tick so many fabulous Harley style boxes.

Credit: Alexia Hentsch

Body Suits

Harley's choice of bodysuits add starry and flame glitz to her look, which includes the handmade Alexia Hentsch tulle and velvet star number — still available to purchase. Less bank-draining alternatives can be found at Dolls Kill and ASOS. The flame Current Mood number is sold out, but how about a bolt of lightning instead for roller derby?

Jackets

Starting at the end, the custom Di$count Universe embellished blue jacket is a striking way to close out the movie. This "Revenge" jacket by the brand is very much in Harley's wheelhouse. For other mixed textures and patterns that scream Harley Quinn, Alice + Olivia bring the sequins.

A large part of her jacket collection embraces all things sparkly in varying lengths and styles. The holiday season is peak sequin shopping time, so stores are currently selling a lot of these items on discount — although, as Harley proves, sequins should not be held back for one particular time of year. The duster style coat she wears while drinking up a storm is a belted midi Attico dress with a teal velvet back, which is a fabulous twist on fancy evening wear. You can do the same with this We Are Leone silver shiny delight. For something shorter and more affordable, River Island combines sequins with fringe, and H&M is leaning into the larger sequins and silver.

Credit: GCDS

Cropped Tops

The hot pink cropped top is as eye-catching as Harley's gold overalls, but it is a GCDS Spring '19 swimsuit that is connected by clips. The pink version has sold out, but you can still purchase it in black (and maybe add a touch of Harley DIY via patches). Alternatively, Hot Topic has licensed a version of the Harley ensemble complete with signature diamonds.

Hot pink is Harley's favored undergarment shade, as she also wears a This Is a Love Song bikini top under her sheer star bodysuit. The key for these fuchsia tops is leaning into sports attire or underwear, such as this Calvin Klein bralette.

Credit: Joyrich/Nordstrom

T-Shirts

L.A.-based streetwear brand Joyrich has created an official capsule line for Nordstrom taking elements of Harley's style in a range of tees and hoodies. The white shirt with her name emblazoned all over it — taking inspiration from the Balenciaga logo shirt — is the most notable item and a steal at $40. Wear your Harley loyalty with ease.

Credit: Billie Valentine

Accessories

No one has a better accessories game in this squad than Harley, and she's not afraid to go big with her choice of glasses, gloves, socks, and jewelry. This is not an afterthought. All of Harley's many pieces of hardware are custom-made, but jewelry designer Billie Valentine has released a limited-edition collection of pieces inspired by and featuring in Birds of Prey. As of writing this, the signature Harley charm necklace is still available, and you can also purchase these signature replicas at Nordstrom.

Credit: UNCUFFED

Also handmade and available to purchase are Harley's opera-length leather gloves from the prison breakout sequence. Leather brand Uncuffed explains the concept as "This bold style was designed around the idea of sisterhood, with female leather hand appliques clutching the glove in a show of support." Perfect for Harley and you!

Dressing like Harley from head to toe is possible, and finishing off an outfit wearing ASOS sequin socks will ensure your feet are dazzling.

Black to the Future: This Scientist May Hold the Key to Time Travel @ io9

Ronald Mallett, a theoretical physicist and professor emeritus of physics at the University of Connecticut, claims to have the solution to time travel.

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American Horror Story Recruits Macaulay Culkin for Untold Frights @ io9

The more star-studded any given season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story has been, the wilder and more ridiculous the stories being told have tended to be, and the latest casting announcement suggests that the FX series’ 10th installment will be a doozy.

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Star Trek's warp speed travel would have tragic consequences @ Syfy Wire

1p>The universe is big. Like, really big. Bigger, even, than several IKEAs strung end to end, if you can believe it. It's so big that just getting to the Moon, which seems so close sometimes you feel like you could reach out and grab it, takes a few days. Getting to Mars, our best candidate for setting boots on another world, is an even worse prospect. The numbers get a little wiggly, owing to the constant movement of the two involved planets, but a crewed trip to Mars, using current technology, would take about nine months. That's quite a road trip.[blastr_related_rightrail:{"title":"More Star Trek","articles":["Jeri Ryan pinpoints the moment Seven of Nine was changed forever in Star Trek: Picard (209045)","Chosen One of the Day: Jean-Luc's undercover disguise on Star Trek: Picard (209113)"]}]

The point is, there's a whole lot of space out there and getting anywhere interesting takes way too long. We are a society hell-bent on immediate gratification. It's why instant noodles exist.

Science fiction writers have imagined all sorts of solutions for this specific problem. Waiting decades or centuries for our protagonists to arrive on another world can make for stagnant storytelling, so we've dreamed up hyper-drives and subspace tunneling. Perhaps most famous among these fictional solutions is Star Trek's warp drive.

In the 23rd and 24th centuries, traveling to the edges of the cosmos is as simple as pushing a button, presuming you've got a well-stocked store of dilithium crystals. The enlisted members of Starfleet enjoy spacecraft capable not only of moving at a significant fraction of light speed but of dispensing with this universal constant altogether. Who needs relativity, anyway?

It makes for better storytelling. The various crews of Trek's slate of television shows and movies can get from here to there without much fanfare. Seeking out new worlds and new civilizations is no more difficult than gassing up the car and packing a cooler full of junk food. And they don't even need to do that! The replicators will crank out a bologna sandwich just like mom used to make. All that's left is to go, but what happens then?

Say goodbye to your friends and family, we're about to explore the cost of traveling at warp speeds.

THE UNSEEN IMPLICATIONS OF FASTER-THAN-LIGHT TRAVEL

The crews of our favorite Star Trek shows regularly travel at velocities far outpacing the speed of light. Warp one, a veritable snail's pace in the world of Trek, is equal to the speed of light. Warp speeds exceeding warp one equal a multiple of C (the speed of light), but the exact speeds are variable, depending on the source material. It seems the Federation altered its scale as time went on.

Still, the fact of the matter is, our favorite Starfleet crews regularly traveled well beyond the speed of light as they whizzed between one planet and another.

In order to understand the implications of this type of space travel, we first have to have a basic understanding of relativity.

Previous to Einstein, the common belief was that time was constant, experienced by all observers, in all places, in the same way, and at the same rate. The trouble began when physicists realized that the speed of light is constant, regardless of the velocity of the observer. This differed from the way we experience velocities of pretty much anything else.

For instance, if a cannon fires a cannonball at 100 miles per hour, from atop a moving train also moving at 100 miles per hour, in the same direction, the total velocity of the cannonball is 200 miles per hour. This sort of relationship makes logical sense from our everyday perspective. But this same relationship does not apply to light.

Light shone from a stationary flashlight travels across space at 299,792,458 meters per second. If we were to strap that flashlight to the top of that same moving train traveling at 100 miles per hour (or 44.704 meters per second), the speed at which the light would travel remains at 299,792,458 meters per second. There is no apparent change to the light's total speed.

Where things get weird is when we realize that the apparent speed remains constant both for someone standing on the train and a stationary person standing on the platform.

No matter your perspective and against all common wisdom, the speed of light remains the same.

Einstein realized that the only way to reconcile these two divergent experiences was to modify the experience of time. In order for the speed of light to remain constant, the person traveling at faster speeds has to experience time more slowly. While it might seem counterintuitive, this conclusion is born of real-world experience.

Astronauts living on the International Space Station experience time at a slower rate than their counterparts here on Earth. Their speed, while impressive (4.76 miles per second), is slow when compared to the speed of light. As such, the time dilation they experience is minimal. Astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year on ISS, while his twin brother stayed here at home. After a year at those speeds, he would have aged about 0.01 second less than his brother. It's something, but they can still celebrate birthdays together without any trouble.

Things get weirder when you get nearer to the speed of light. The closer you get to the speed of light, the slower time moves for you. Time remains at the usual rate for the people back here on Earth.

If you were able to travel to Alpha Centauri, roughly 4.25 light years away, at 99.9 percent the speed of light, you'd be able to see the time dilation more clearly. The trip would seem, from the perspective of an observer on Earth, to take a little more than 4.25 years. For someone on the ship, however, the travel time would be a little more than five days. They could travel there, do a bit of research, and come back in less than a fortnight. But everyone here at home would have aged more than eight years.

Star Trek avoids all this trouble through a whole lot of hand-waving about warping spacetime.

It's not an entirely unfounded idea. In 1994, physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed the possibility of bending spacetime around an object. By condensing the space ahead of a craft and inflating the space behind, you could create a bubble within which a craft could travel without violating relativity. The upshot is that anyone inside could travel effectively faster than the speed of light without experiencing any time dilation. In scientific circles, that's referred to as getting to have your cake and eat it, too.

That's all a little too clean for our tastes. If we've learned anything from the universe, it's that it doesn't like to make things easy for us. So let's assume we're at the mercy of relativism, just for fun.

THE COST OF THE ENTERPRISE

We've already discussed the implications of moving at a significant fraction of C. You can pretty much say goodbye to any relationships you have at home as soon as you sign on to a Starfleet ship. After just a couple of trips to nearby stars, everyone you know and love will be dead while you haven't even been at work long enough to collect benefit time.

Things get even weirder when your captain calls down to engineering to kick in the juice. Once you're traveling faster than warp one, things get totally bizarre.

The speed of light has an intrinsic relationship with causality. Once you go beyond it, the past, present, and future get a little wibbly-wobbly. We won't get into the mathematical weeds here. If you want a moderately simple explanation, check out the below video from PBS, but suffice it to say that once you get sufficiently beyond the speed of light, time goes totally out the window.

It's possible, at least hypothetically, once you're traveling at post-light speeds, to travel backward in time. There was some controversy about this a few years ago when, for a brief moment, scientists thought they might have observed superluminal neutrinos. In common terms, they thought they might have seen particles appearing before they were expected. Eventually, it was determined that there were mechanical errors that resulted in inaccurate findings.

Still, the math checks out. If you move faster than the speed of light, it's theoretically possible to travel through spacetime and arrive at a point prior to when you began.

Even if you somehow convince your captain to avoid the warp drive and use only the impulse engines, time dilation will have your family and friends dying off before you get your first chance at shore leave.

The terrifying conclusion is, once you sign up for Starfleet, the best-case scenario is you get a couple of phone calls to those you've left behind. Worst case, you arrive back home before anyone you know has even been born.

If time is the only true currency, exploring the cosmos exacts a terrible cost. The universe is vast, and there are so many sights to see; it's unfortunate that physics seems to have conspired to exact a heavy toll in order to see them.

Kazuhisa Hashimoto, creator of the Konami Code, most famous cheat code ever, dies at 61 @ Syfy Wire

1p>Kazuhisa Hashimoto, the creator of the celebrated Konami Code, has died, the video game company announced on Twitter Wednesday. According to Polygon, he was 61.

The Konami Code — an input sequence of "up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start" — took on a life of its own after its debut in the Nintendo Entertainment System versions of Gradius and Contra.

Hashimoto implemented the code into the notoriously difficult Gradius as a way to get extra lives, because he “obviously couldn’t beat it” when he was porting it to the system. The code became such a famous and memorable cheat code that various other games — and even Google — added it to their systems as a way to earn extra lives, play secret tunes, or give other winking nods to gamers who know their history.

The code appeared in dozens of Konami titles as well as games like BioShock InfiniteAnthemLeague of Legends, Rocket League, Fortnite, and more. Various websites will respond to the code, as will Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa.

Here are just a few examples:

Hashimoto started his career with Konami in the early '80s making circuit boards for games like 1983’s Track & Field. His duties changed to porting these arcade games to home consoles soon after, which is where he was able to leave his lasting mark on gamer culture.

"We are saddened to hear about the passing of Kazuhisa Hashimoto, a deeply talented producer who first introduced the world to the 'Konami Code,'" the company wrote in its statement. "Our thoughts are with Hashimoto-san's family and friends at this time. Rest In Peace."

Hashimoto's friend Yuji Takenouchi, a video game sound designer, also paid tribute to him on Twitter, writing that "We pray for [his soul.]"

Report: Steven Spielberg Will No Longer Direct Indiana Jones 5 @ io9

Indiana Jones is coming back for a fifth adventure—this we’ve known for ages, as the film’s been in a long development process. But now as it begins to slowly come out of that process, it’s going to be doing so without the man that has been behind the camera since the very first movie in the franchise.

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Red Pandas Might Actually Be Two Species @ io9

Scientists think they’ve helped settle a debate over one of the most endangered (and cutest) animals around: the red panda. New genetic evidence suggests there are really two different species of red panda, each with a unique evolutionary history.

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Spielberg won't direct Indiana Jones 5; James Mangold eyed to take up the whip @ Syfy Wire

1p>After overseeing the production of four movies in the Indiana Jones franchise, the legendary Steven Spielberg will not be returning to direct the upcoming fifth installment, Variety revealed today. According to the report, James Mangold (LoganFord v Ferrari) is in talks to take over.

Spielberg, who was involved in a lengthy development process for the highly-anticipated project, is said to be staying on as "a hands-on producer." Harrison Ford is still returning to play the titular professor/adventurer. He recently admitted that filming is set to take place in just a few months.

Credit: Lucasfilm

This news comes as a genuine shock since Spielberg has been synonymous with the series ever since Raiders of the Lost Ark first hit theaters in the summer of 1981. The iconic property is said to have been conceived while the Oscar-winning filmmaker and George Lucas built sand castles in Hawaii shortly after the release of the first Star Wars movie in 1977.

Lucas wanted to pay homage to the adventure serials of his youth, while Spielberg had always dreamed of making a globe-trotting James Bond film. When combined, these ambitions became Henry Jones Jr., a college teacher/archaeologist who seeks ancient and mystical artifacts across the world in his spare time.

It's crazy to think that Spielberg would simply hand over the creative reigns to someone else after all this time, especially since this could be the last Indiana Jones with Ford in the main role.

Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images & Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Mangold broke out big on the genre radar with Hugh Jackman's Wolverine sendoff Logan, and scored some mainstream critical acclaim with Ford v Ferrari last yearThe former became the first comic book movie in history to score a Best Adapted Screenplay nod at the Oscars.

The first three Indy films (Raiders, Temple of Doom, and Last Crusade) were all released throughout the 1980s. The fourth entry, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, arrived nearly two decades later. Despite trying to set up Shia LaBeouf as the next person to wield the famous whip and fedora, Crystal Skull wasn't greatly received by fans. Nevertheless, it was still a box office success with nearly $800 million worldwide.

Disney acquired the franchise rights in 2012 when it bought Lucasfilm for a little over $4 billion. The Mouse House announced a fifth outing in 2016, but the project kept being pushed to later dates. Chris Pratt was even rumored to be considered as Ford's replacement for a reboot at one point, but that never really picked up any steam.

Credit: Paramount/Lucasfilm

At this moment, Indy 5 is still scheduled to hit theaters on July 9, 2021. With Spielberg no longer attached, however, it's very likely that the opening will be pushed once again.

Jonathan Kasdan, son of Raiders scribe Lawrence Kasdan, is writing the screenplay, which was originally being penned by Crystal Skull vet, David Koepp.


Get Knife Edges Sharp Enough To Cut A Man With The Help Of Chef's Choice Electric Sharpener @ io9

Altered Carbon's Simone Missick Says Misty Knight Is Partially to Thank for Getting the New Gig @ io9

The newest star of Altered Carbon, Simone Missick, may be best known for playing Misty Knight in Marvel’s now-defunct Netflix Universe, but her latest role is going to turn (and decapitate) some heads. She’s shed the robotic arm for some neural implants and a gun, and she’s having the time of her life.

Read more...

'Konami Code' Creator Kazuhisa Hashimoto Dies At 61 @ io9

Kazuhisa Hashimoto, veteran video game developer and creator of the famous Konami Code, died this week at the age of 61.

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The treatment of queer women in Blaxploitation films @ Syfy Wire

1p>The early to mid-’70s was an exciting time for Blaxploitation; there was an influx of films like Cleopatra Jones, Coffy, Foxy Brown, and Sheba, Baby that introduced leading Black women into the predominantly male genre. Although these heroines were women not to be trifled with, they paradoxically performed hyper-femininity and hyper-masculinity — simultaneously acting as lethal action heroines and sex objects.

While these movies, at first glance, would seem like they could be looked to as a source of women’s empowerment, that isn’t wholly true. They were very much there for the male gaze; functioning to meet the perceived demands of the targeted young Black male audiences, these films predominately had plots focused on revolutionary vengeance and tons of female nudity. There were also apparent borders drawn between Black and white femininity. Lesbianism was extremely racialized and, therefore, subsequently linked to the binary struggle between good and evil as white women villains were often lesbians, and the Black women heroines were always heterosexual.

Credit: Warner Bros/Cleopatra Jones

Black women struggled with both race and gender expectations in the '60s and '70s and still do to this day. Not much has changed in that regard. However, during that era, both the Black Power and women’s liberation movements were going strong, creating an authentic tug of war with Black women right in the middle. Black men and non-Black women were in a position to treat race and gender as two mutually exclusive categories. Either race was privileged over gender or vice versa. Black women were expected to consider their race over their gender by their Black male counterparts, creating a gendered power structure within the Black Power movement. This meant Black women were pushed into secondary supporting roles in what was a male-dominated struggle for revolution. On the other side, the women’s liberation movements, which were considered second-wave feminism embraced by white women, became their form of resistance. Black women finding themselves caught between the two felt forced to denounce feminism, as it was just something for middle-class white women.

With all of this in mind, the directorial choices made for the Blaxploitation films starring strong heterosexual Black heroines fighting against evil white lesbians start to become clearer. A Black queer woman wouldn’t necessarily fit into the supportive role to a Black man the same way a heterosexual Black woman would. A Black woman interested in other women doesn't necessarily fit what creators were going for when it came to creating these women for the targeted male audiences. So, there is no need to make the lead heroines like Cleopatra Jones queer; however, the opportunity to further racialize queerness and segregated sisterhood is there and seized twice.

In the first Cleopatra Jones movie, Cleopatra faces off with a villain named Mommy, an older white woman who exhibits predatory behavior towards the women she keeps around for her pleasure. Although she’s a murderous drug queen pin who deserves to be taken out, Mommy is an evil woman who also happens to like women. Her character acts as the consummate anti-hero to Cleopatra; her exaggerated gender transgressions served to further separate the characters. This isn’t a one-off occurrence either; in the sequel Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold, the protagonist is once again challenged by a white lesbian villain named The Lady Dragon. She is the head of an underground drug empire. Our introduction of her sexuality happens right away, as she emerges from what appeared to be a lesbian sex orgy. 

Credit: Foxy Brown/American International Pictures

This brand of good-as-straight versus evil-as-queer also appears in Foxy Brown. Brown and her friend, Claudia, enter an all-female gay bar and are almost immediately surrounded by white lesbians. Unlike Cleopatra Jones, however, where there is just reason for Cleopatra to fight those women, here white lesbian characters have no evident beef with either Brown or Claudia outside of them appearing in the bar. In fact, any other establishment could have been used for Brown and Claudia to seek refuge in, but the use of the lesbian bar functions on a deeper level to highlight race and sexuality as dividing factors in forming female solidarity. Also, the erasure of Black queer women when queerness clearly exists in these films reiterates that they serve no purpose or usefulness.

Fast-forwarding to the present day, there's Marvel’s Black Panther; while being no different than other movies within the MCU when it comes to failing to include a prominent queer protagonist and not just queer subtext for others, it also isn't too far removed from the Blaxploitation films that came before it even though the heroines of the film aren’t solely present for the male gaze. Black Panther has a plethora of Black heroines, but the known queer Black heroine in the movie, Ayo, has little screen time and no lines — not to mention, the only way one would be aware of Ayo’s sexuality is through knowing the character in other forms of media where her sexuality is clearly expressed (like the limited comic series World of Wakanda).

In a movie that doesn’t shy away from allowing the women to be part of the conflict, allowing only the heterosexual women to be at the forefront is unfortunate. The beauty of Black Panther was in the display of sisterhood between such strong female characters, but reducing the lone known Black queer woman to a background character is such a huge misstep, one echoed in the history of the Blaxploitation films that came before it, and one that is in dire need of course correction.

Credit: Marvel Studios/Black Panther

Black queer heroines deserve to be a part of the narrative the same way as Black heterosexual heroines have been. As far as mainstream movies go, Black Panther 2 would be an excellent opportunity to do so, given that Ayo is already an established character. Hopefully, that opportunity is taken, but in general, we need many more queer Black heroines at the forefront of their own narratives. 

After Toy Fair, fans are fighting over '80s and '90s nostalgia @ Syfy Wire

1p>Welcome back to Important Toy News, the SYFY WIRE column that not only shows you all the best and coolest happenings in the world of amazing toys and collectibles for the week, but also shows off the newest hotness in toy tech and lets you know all the behind-the-curtain craziness going down in the toy industry today. All presented to you in stunning HD-DVD quality by your resident, if not favorite, toy journalist.

Toy Fair New York has just wrapped up, and the consensus on the street is "What a time to be a toy collector." Again, and again on my online toy collecting platform, these are the words I've heard and seen repeated. So, let's first talk a little bit about some of the highlight products revealed at the show, the public's reaction to said items, and then what this means for the greater "culture" in regard to toys. Because there are a few angles to look at here.

Credit: Hasbro

First and foremost, there's no denying that Big Daddy Hasbro took out the cannons and rode the fire home. I'm serious — what a show for Hasbro. We discussed last week that the G.I. Joe Classified Series line was freshly announced, and we suspected that the Snake Eyes figure would be a Convention exclusive. NOPE, incorrect! It is available for preorder now. Within a day, Duke, Scarlett, Roadblock, Tarantula, and Darkling were announced (with a box set of the entire wave available for $119, shipping your way in June!).

Credit: Hasbro

A mad grip (yes, that's a quantitative figure, anyone that grew up in the '90s can confirm) of Ghostbusters toys were announced, from Egon's Neutrona Wand prop ($99.99, shipping August 2020, available to order now), to remakes of Kenner's Real Ghostbusters action figures (available to preorder from Walmart today for $14.99 each), and over to the new 6-inch Plasma Series line of the four Ghostbusters, Dana Barrett, Gozer, all culminating with a Hell Dog Build a Figure. (Yes, they are available for preorder as well, $165 for all six and shipping June 2020). And if you want more '80s deliciousness, you can check out all of Hasbro's Transformers announcements on Hasbro Pulse right now!

Credit: Hasbro

We even have the world going Power Rangers crazy over the announcement of the Green Ranger Dragon Dagger Prop. Yes, we had the original vintage toy released in the early '90s. And hell yes, we all lifted that synth trumpet to our lips and pretended to summon the Dragonzord. Many of us purchased the recent Bandai Legacy Proplica when it came out in its green-boxed glory (though that was expensive, coming in at the $80-$120 range).

Now, Hasbro turned the world upside down with the announcement of the prop replica Dragon Dagger ($60, shipping Fall 2020, and available for preorder today). Not to mention that Wave 5 of the Lightning Collection was announced, and 12-inch head flipping dolls were announced, both featuring, you guessed it, characters from the original flagship Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series.

Credit: Hasbro

Again, people are going nuts for these announcements. Let's take a break from fawning over Hasbro for a moment. Let's take a peek at what the other companies did at Toy Fair. I have to say with complete sincerity that everyone working for toy manufacturers work hard. It is not easy to make any toy, let alone a long-standing franchise or one where you are a licensee.

Mattel showed off new Masters of the Universe toys and card/box art. NECA revealed a Jumbo Raphael from Ninja Turtles, done in the cartoon style, incredible Toony Terrors and Toony Classics, showing off horror icons like Beetlejuice and new Bill and Ted figures. We have Super7 revealing new 6-inch Transformers ReAction figures (the standard is a 3.75-inch figure), Optimus Prime as a Shogun Warriors-style Jumbo Machinder, new Peanuts figures, The Nightmare Before Christmas, teased JEM figures and more. So, while the public, collectors, and fans were happy, a snarky meme made its rounds on Facebook in response to this occurrence.

Credit: Facebook

It's hard to say who created this brilliant meme or which toy group it appeared in first, but it's set the toy collecting world off and caused (yet another) riff. Hell, I'm all for people living their best collecting life, but we're so deep in nostalgia that Hasbro is releasing Tiger Electronic Handheld Games and Mall Madness again ($24.99, shipping August 2020 and available for preorder today). Like really, some things just weren't good the first time around. (You can preorder Tiger Games Sonic the Hedgehog, X-Men, The Little Mermaid, or Transformers for $14.99 each by clicking their names!)

People are being a bit defensive, saying that they are now collecting the toys they didn't get as a kid, replacing the ones that evaded them, buying new ones to display, etc. And look, there's no wrong answer here. But when the highlight announcements at Toy Fair are all from 30-plus-year-old franchises, it's something to think about. In my opinion, children today just want slime, glitter, poop, and unboxing toys (or a combination thereof), but that's an article for another day.

Credit: Mattel

And on the topic of toys aimed at children, Mattel has an eco-conscious project up they're sleeve and the toy giant is kicking it off with their preschool line. We're talking about their goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials in all products and packaging by 2030. Let's repeat that and see how well it sits with the aforementioned adult collector. All products and packaging, friends. Sure, it's sweet and cute when we are discussing Fisher-Price toys and Rock-a-Stack. According to a recent press release from Mattel, they will "debut its first product aligned with this goal: the iconic Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack made from sugarcane-based plastics and packaged in 100% recycled or sustainably sourced material."

Mattel has also established an Environmental Sustainability Council comprised of a cross-functional team of leaders dedicated to actively advancing the Company's sustainability efforts in several areas, including materials innovation. "Mega Bloks, will also now feature three preschool building sets — Polar Friends, Safari Friends and Woodland Friends — derived from bio-based resins," Mattel announced in a second press release. The building sets have Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified packaging that is fully recyclable.

Sure, when discussing baby toys that will get chewed up, spit on, and outgrown in two years, the idea of recyclable toys is wholesome and pure. But imagine the faces of collectors when they're told that new toys will possibly biodegrade before the vintage counterparts? Hoo-wah… that will be another crazy debate that only snarky memes can solve.


Clive Cussler, prolific author of alt-history adventures, dies at 88 @ Syfy Wire

1p>Author Clive Cussler, who wrote over 80 genre-spanning books during the course of his prolific career, has died at age 88. His adventure novels, specifically the Dirk Pitt series, reimagined historical or mythological elements — like the Titanic or Atlantis — and gave them a thrilling reality for his Indiana-Jones-meets-James-Bond hero to discover.

Cussler's Raise the Titanic (1976) and Sahara (1992) were both adapted into films, bringing their alt-history conspiracy theories and hidden secrets to the big screen, tweaking historical fact just enough to bring a bit of fantasy into the proceedings. The former, adapted in 1980, involved the famous sunken ship, a secret government program, and the fake mineral Byzanium, while the latter, adapted in 2005, was all about Confederate treasure and the fictional capture of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

Cussler died Monday, according to a post by his wife, Janet Horvath, on the author's official Twitter account:

"It is with a heavy heart that I share the sad news that my husband Clive passed away Mon," Horvath writes in the brief announcement. "It has been a privilege to share in his life. I want to thank you his fans & friends for all the support. He was the kindest most gentle man I ever met. I know, his adventures will continue."

Cussler, who had been writing since 1965, was a #1 New York Times bestselling author whose books have been published in over 40 languages in more than 100 countries, according to his official site. He was also a bit like James Cameron, in that his fictional adventures led to real-life explorations of underwater locales. Cussler is survived by his wife and children, Teri, Dirk, and Dayna.

Cussler's final novel, Journey of the Pharaohs, will continue the NUMA Files series when it is released on March 10.

Disney's Attempts to Avoid the Errors of Mulan's Original Chinese Debut Might Be Undone By the Coronavirus @ io9

In 1998, Disney’s attempts to launch its animated take on the fable of Hua Mulan in China hit a snag that delayed its release by nearly a year. Now, on the precipice of releasing its live-action remake aimed even further at capitalizing on the Chinese market, Disney finds itself in another problematic situation: the…

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WIRE Buzz: Rumble debuts kaiju wrestling trailer; Mulan's hardcore auditions; A24 horror @ Syfy Wire

1p>Pacific Rim, meet WWE. The latest animation from Paramount blends the kaiju of Guillermo del Toro’s Godzilla-loving monster movie with the over-the-top fandom of professional wrestling. That’s Rumble, starring Terry Crews as a giant fishy monster called Tentacular who’s dominating the monster wrestling circuit. 

Now, in the first trailer for director Hamish Grieve’s film, fans can see the underdog (and his coach) after the monstrous belt. Winnie (Geraldine Viswanathan) is out to take Will Arnett’s furry beast from chubby zero to fight night hero.

Take a look:

The sci-fi adjacent film (Winnie’s on some kind of hoverbike?) heavily references Dirty Dancing in its first clip, which also has the musical sensibilities of Space Jam on steroids. The animated monster comedy also boasts a cast including Roman Reigns, Tony Danza, Becky Lynch, Susan Kelechi Watson, Stephen A. Smith, Jimmy Tatro, Ben Schwartz, and Michael Buffer.

Oh, and there’s a poster:

Source: Paramount

Rumble shakes and quakes its way into theaters on Jan. 29, 2021.


Next, the process to become the live-action representation of Disney’s Mulan was even harder than most fans might think. It wasn’t just a matter of competition: it was a matter of pure exertion.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, director Niki Caro talked about the exhaustive process of casting Liu Yifei as the legendary titular hero in this latest live-action Disney adaptation. "She's a needle in a haystack, but we were going to find her," Caro said. "It's impossible to make this movie without this person." The actress needed to be tough, English-speaking, Chinese, and with a grasp of martial arts. That’s a big ask.

In fact, the search went on so long that Disney delayed the movie years past its original November 2018 release date, until finally Liu (who had been busy with a TV show) was able to audition.

"I was determined that whoever played Mulan was not going to be fragile and feminine," Caro explained. "She had to pass as a man in a man's army." So the audition became a bit more like basic training for the army: Caro and a trainer made Liu and other actresses go through an hour-and-a-half workout session “with extreme cardio and weight exercises” to assess their physical abilities.

Check out some of her exhaustive stunt training in the featurette below...

Liu passed the tests, obviously. Other hopefuls did not. "Boy, did they flame out," Caro laughed. The star of Mulan impressed her director because she "never complained once, never said, 'I can't.' She went to her limits." Maybe she’ll be doing that musical pole-climbing scene for real? Either way, now Liu will soon be masquerading as a man to save her people, bringing the source material back to the big screen.

Mulan allows Liu to show her stuff when it hits theaters on March 27.


Finally, Saint Maud — the A24 horror that’s also writer/director Rose Glass’s directorial debut — has dropped a new trailer teasing its combination of nursing horror, religious horror, and psychedelic freakout.

Check it out:

Starring Morfydd Clark and Jennifer Ehle, this spooky tonal mix serves up mortification of the flesh and medical power all packed into a thrilling two-hander between these two women. And, wait, does it seemingly end with the nurse’s self-immolation? This movie looks like Midsommar meets Misery and this trailer only makes things look even freakier.

Saint Maud comes for us all when the film hits theaters on April 3.

How Luke Cage brought swagger to the Marvel Universe @ Syfy Wire

1p>48 years ago this week, Luke Cage walked out of hell and changed the game.

Don't believe me? It says it right there on the page 1 splash to the first issue of Luke Cage, Hero For Hire ....

Credit: Marvel Comics. Art: George Tuska/Billy Graham

Not only was Cage the first African-American superhero to headline his own comic, he also was the first hero to deliver something the Marvel Universe to that point had lacked:

Swagger.

Spidey had the quips, Cap had the authority, Thor the regality, Mister Fantastic the know-it-allness. But Luke Cage had the cool. He was the D-Generation X of comics. Cage exuded attitude at a time when most mainstream comic book heroes had very little edge.

Created during the height of the Blaxploitation era, Cage was saddled with some dialogue and situations that, thanks to the gift of hindsight, are painfully misguided. If you re-read some of the early Hero For Hire issues, it is clear that Luke's dialogue was written by well-meaning white comic book writers — such as comics legend Archie Goodwin — who had no idea how an actual black man in Harlem talked. But the words in those comics couldn't deter from the visual aesthetic of the character that artists, especially the criminally underrated Billy Graham, put forth on the page.

In every Luke Cage comic, he was the coolest guy in the room. He walked with purpose. He acted without hesitation or fear. Is there another Marvel hero from that era who would've had the stones to fly to Latveria to take on Doctor Doom ... for a $200 past-due notice? I don't think so.

Credit: Marvel Comics

I know that sequence is one of the most popular comic book memes, and a very polarizing one. Read this story by Evan Narcisse for a deeper dive into why this scene is problematic for the way it portrays the black hero from Harlem against the aristocratic ruler from a European country. For me, what I've always loved about that scene is that it showed that Cage may have been a hero for hire, but he was nobody's punk. And he was a man of his word who demanded others keep theirs.

I was a huge fan of Power Man & Iron Fist as a young reader, not only because the two title characters had great outfits but for being the best depiction of friendship in comics. Their dynamic was perfect, thanks to storytellers like Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Mary Jo Duffy and Kerry Gammill. In the waning days of PM/IF, writer Christopher Priest, then known as Jim Owsley, intentionally did away with the forced street slang in favor of dialogue that better reflected Luke's intelligence and sophisticated.

Credit: Marvel Comics. Art: John Byrne/Terry Austin

While he came back in the '90s in the (mercifully) brief solo series, Cage, it was the early aughts when the revival of Luke Cage truly began. Brian Michael Bendis recognized instantly the potential of the character and made him a key figure in Alias. Bendis turned Luke and Jessica Jones into one of the best couples in Marvel history.

But it was turning him into an Avenger that really made him into a cornerstone of the Marvel U. He was a legit badass, one of the team leaders and also someone who gave the group the most grounded presence it ever had. New Avengers #17 features one of the greatest Luke Cage moments ever. These two pages right here capture what makes him awesome, without a single punch thrown.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Credit: Marvel Comics

As Luke explained to a television news reporter, he wanted the New Avengers to do 'impact superhero work' beyond saving the world. He wanted to make a difference in the places that too often get overlooked. It's a perfect encapsulation of Cage's philosophy as a hero:

Saving the world is great, but you have to save the neighborhood, too.


Got a favorite Luke Cage story? Hit me up on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram and let me know.

And here's your weekly reminder that Behind the Panel is a multi-platform series, as well. Our video series is chock-full of my in-depth interviews with amazing comic book creators. The Behind the Panel podcast is an audio documentary series that provides unique insight into your favorite creators and stories. Check 'em out, we think you'll enjoy them.

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

Leigh Whannell explains why he's 'afraid' of his Escape from New York reboot @ Syfy Wire

1p>This week, writer/director Leigh Whannell's The Invisible Man remake hits theaters, riding a wave of critical acclaim and early buzz that have it poised to be a hit, and perhaps even a new horror classic. With the tale of an invisible villain and the horrified woman who must battle him in his rearview, Whannell's now turning his thoughts to yet another sci-fi franchise remake he's been attached to for some time, and he's willing to admit that he's at least a little intimidated. 

Whannell built his filmmaking reputation in the horror genre, first as a screenwriter who helped craft two of the most successful franchises of the 21st century: Saw and Insidious. In 2018 he began infusing a heavier dose of science fiction into his filmography with his second effort as a writer/director: Upgrade, an acclaimed low-budget film that merged a sci-fi high concept with body horror intrigue. The Invisible Man feels like a logical continuation of that blend, but around the same time his involvement in that film came to light, reports also attached Whannell to a remake of Escape from New York, John Carpenter's action classic about a former special ops soldier tasked with infiltrating the prison complex formerly known as Manhattan. 

Speaking to io9 about The Invisible Man and what's next for him, Whannell said he's revisiting Escape from New York in the near future, but not without some trepidation. 

“I’m a big fan of Escape From New York and I’m afraid of it in a way that I wasn’t with The Invisible Man,” Whannell said. “I feel like The Invisible Man has such a long and storied history with so many people attacking the character from different angles that it gives you permission to mess with it a bit. Not so Escape From New York. It is very much the product of one brain and how are you going to replace Kurt Russell? So I think I’m a little afraid of it and I want to approach it very carefully. If I was going to do something, I would have to know exactly how I was going to please the fans of the original.”

Whannell's not the only one who's afraid of an Escape from New York remake. Various filmmakers have been trying to develop one for years, including director Robert Rodriguez, writer Neil Cross, and Carpenter himself in an advisory capacity. Whannell hasn't spilled too many details about whatever his approach might be, though he did recently offer up the idea that original Escape star Kurt Russell's son, Wyatt, was the logical choice to be the next Snake Plissken. 

Whatever Whannell may or may not end up doing on the project, there's a reason why we've barely heard anything about his work on it for the last year. The Invisible Man happened quite fast, so fast in fact that Whannell himself barely realized he was being courted for the project at first. He just thought he was in a meeting about the then-new Upgrade

“One of the people in the meeting started probing me about the Invisible Man [and] what would I do with that character,” Whannell said. “And me in my naivete, I thought we were just shooting the breeze. I didn’t see the ambush. I was like, ‘Off the top of my head. I would probably tell the whole story from the point of view of the victim.’ And the next thing I knew, I had a job.”

The Invisible Man hits theaters Friday.

Possible New ‘Mini-Moon’ Detected in Orbit Around Earth @ io9

Astronomers from the Catalina Sky Survey say they have detected a rare mini-moon around Earth. Sadly, we shouldn’t get too attached to our new natural satellite, as the rock—if that’s indeed what it is—will only hang around for a few months.

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Dorky Geeky Nerdy One-Year Anniversary Special @ Bureau 42

One whole year!

We’re celebrating one trip around the planet with a special episode featuring new questions from topics presented over the last year.

We’re also featuring forty questions with an extra Freaky round. Enjoy and thanks for your support, ideas, and downloads!

Dorky Geeky Nerdy #57 | One-Year Anniversary Special

Heroes Rising Is So Incredibly Bonkers, It Might Just Break My Hero Academia @ io9

Ever since Kohei Horikoshi’s seminal shonen manga, and then Studio Bones’ incredible adaptation of it, hit the world, it feels like it’s just kept powering up, quite like its cast of rough-and-ready wannabe heroes. Now the series’ second crack at the box office continues to amp up the scale, but in doing so it might…

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Wednesday's Best Deals: MacBook Air, Ninja Blender, Give'r Gloves, and More @ io9

An Anker portable projector, SteelSeries gaming mouse, and a USB-C adapter lead off Wednesday’s best deals from around the web.

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Apple Bans Bad Guys From Using iPhones in Movies, Says Knives Out Director @ io9

Apple rules over its brand image with an iron fist—and that extends to the silver screen. In a Vanity Fair interview, Knives Out and The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson revealed that Apple won’t let villains and bad guys use iPhones onscreen. An interesting tidbit, but one that has the potential to spoil mystery…

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Chosen One of the Day: Ghost Dog and Spider-Man's mutual admiration @ Syfy Wire

1p>In issue #390 of Doctor Strange (words by Donny Cates, art by Frazer Irving, and letters by VC’s Cory Petit) there’s a lot going on. A very quick backstory: Strange is Not At Home and in his place is our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. People are annoyed. Spidey helps a lady find Strange. (Just go read the issue.)

Most important for our purposes, it turns out Strange has been hiding away — with a Ghost Dog friend. A Ghost Dog friend that has the cutest wittle Spidey plush.

Credit: Marvel Comics

What follows — without giving away any actual plot whatsoever — is pure, mutual admiration and excitement. It’s the best. 

Spider-Man: IS THAT A GHOST DOG?!
Ghost Dog: IS THAT SPIDER-MAN?!
[insert BEYONCE???? Meme here] 

Credit: Marvel Comics

Seriously, they're so excited.

Ghost Dog is all, Avengers who? Doctor Strange what? 

Look how cute they are. Spidey and Ghost Dog, biffles we can aspire to be. 

Credit: Marvel Comics

Sorry Snoke, no iPhone for you: Rian Johnson says Apple won't let movie baddies use its products @ Syfy Wire

1p>Apple is a respected technology brand the world over, so it's no wonder why the company won't let its reputation be tarnished by cinematic bad guys. During a scene breakdown of Knives Out for Vanity Fair, filmmaker Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) revealed that Apple allegedly forbids its devices to be abused by villains onscreen.

"Another funny thing...I don't know if I should say this or not. Not because it's like lascivious or something, but because it's gonna screw me on the next mystery movie that I write," he said in the video below with a laugh. "Forget it, I'll say it—it's very interesting. Apple...they let you use iPhones in movies but—and this is very pivotal if you’re ever watching a mystery movie—bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera,” he said in the video below. "Oh, no! Every single filmmaker who has a bad guy in their movie that's supposed to be a secret wants to murder me right now."

So next time you see a character making a phone call on a Galaxy 7S, odds are good that they're an antagonist.

Product placement is par for the course in Hollywood projects, but Johnson's insight does a lot to explain why big budget films often use brands that aren't as recognizable or beloved as Apple. The house the iPod built is famously careful about how its products are portrayed in mass media, so as wacky as it sounds, this kind of makes sense.

"Apple is known for having strict rules about how devices are used, portrayed, and photographed," reads a recent post by MacRumors. "As part of its guidelines for using Apple trademarks and copyrights, for example, Apple says that Apple products should only be shown 'in the best light, in a manner or context that reflects favorably on the Apple products and on Apple Inc.'"

Lionsgate recently gave the green-light to a Knives Out sequel.


What the New Invisible Man Did to Make Its Universal Monster Scary Again @ io9

The latest rebirth of the Universal Monsters happened so fast, you almost couldn’t see it. Writer and director Leigh Whannell was in a meeting that he thought was about his recent movie, Upgrade, when the conversation started to veer into the iconic collection of creatures.

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Robert Englund wants an Elm Street prequel about Freddy's trial, but would he star in it? @ Syfy Wire

1p>If the knife glove does not fit, you must acquit. Robert Englund recently said he's a little too long in the tooth to play Freddy Krueger anymore, but that doesn't mean the horror icon won't support another Nightmare on Elm Street movie. In fact, Englund revealed to SYFY WIRE that he'd love to see a prequel film centering on Freddy's trial, acquittal, and eventual fiery death.

"I think that the franchise probably deserves a really good prequel," he told us. "There’s never been an entire movie devoted to Freddy before he was burned and the crimes and getting caught by the police and going on trial and getting away with killing children. We know that he was set free, so to me, the great part in the prequel is gonna be the lawyers, the lawyers that get him off. These ambulance-chasing lawyers (or whatever they are) that get Freddy off and then, of course, the ending would be the vigilante parents burning him. That would be the end of the movie, but I think there’s a great story there somewhere ... I think it could sustain 90 minutes."

(Photo by New Line Cinema/Getty Images)

Englund reiterated that he's just too old to carry the franchise (especially if they decided to reboot it again), but would leap at the chance to do a cameo role if asked.

"If, for instance, they remade Part III [Dream Warriors], which is the biggest hit of the franchise, I would love to be invited to do a cameo," he said. "I think there’s a tradition in horror movies and in remakes for the cameo. It’s a certain kind of valentine to the fans and I know that there’s a part in [Dream Warriors where] the great Priscilla Pointer ... played this sort of skeptical dream therapist in the group sessions. I think it would be fun for me to play that part if there was a remake ... To have me not believe in collective nightmares. Having played Freddy, everybody’s favorite nightmare, I think it would be fun for me to play a guy that doesn’t believe in nightmares."

Live-action (beyond a cameo or short guest role on The Goldbergs) is definitely out of the question, but the door for voiceover and animation is never closed.

"Now, if they did a really expensive animated version, a graphic novel animated version, I would love to go do the voice for it. Yeah, that would be fun to do," admitted Englund.

Credit: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

With the U.S. rights to the Elm Street series reportedly back in the hands of the Craven estate, the future is full of possibility. Elijah Wood is among some of Hollywood's biggest players who have voiced interest in rebooting the cinematic IP. Englund is all for the idea of a revamp, especially now that VFX have evolved so much.

"With the new technologies in special effects, I think there are several sequences in several of the franchise [entries] that would really benefit from a remake with all of the are technology," concluded the actor, citing Inception as a watershed moment for bringing dream landscapes to the big screen. "If you remember the effects [from Inception], those effects now have grown by lightyears in terms of what they look like and I would love to see a couple of those effects used in one of the Nightmare movies to really enhance the dream landscape, the kind of nightmare world."

Robert Englund's latest project is True Terror, a six episode docu-series that explores some of the most horrific moments in recorded American history. The show premieres on the Travel Channel Wednesday, March 18 at 10pm EST.


Eight Things Guys Can Only Buy at Sephora @ io9

At a time when stores all around the country are closing faster than Robert Downey Jr.’s Dr. Doolittle reboot, Sephora is bucking brick and mortar’s downturn trend.

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WIRE Buzz: Suicide Squad halts production over James Gunn's dog's death; Anthony Mackie talks Cap; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Writer-director James Gunn has recently revealed that he's mourning the death of his dog, Dr. Wesley Von Spears, aka Wesley. And in an act of kindness which pet owners the world over can appreciate, he expressed gratitude to the cast and crew of his reimagined Suicide Squad for allowing him to temporarily halt production in Panama so he could fly home to comfort his best buddy before he passed away.

"The clip clop of your toenails against the floor behind me was the soundtrack of my life," the filmmaker wrote in a heartbreaking post on his Instagram page. "For nearly seventeen years, you were with me. I’ve spent more time with you than any other being on this planet. You lived with me across the world – in Los Angeles, in London, in Malibu, in Atlanta. You roamed the sets of my films (and roamed into more than one shot). You were with me through my successes and failures, and you didn’t care a whit about them, as long as I was there for a cuddle, a belly rub, a wrestle, a walk, or a treat."

Okay, you can cry now.

Gunn adopted Wesley as a puppy after finding him wandering the streets of Carson City, California. As part of his loving online tribute, the helmer posted a slew of pics of the pooch including lapping up love on the set of Guardians.

He added: "The crew, cast, and studio were kind enough to allow me to shut down production in Panama and fly home to be with him."

Gunn also got some love from good friend, longtime collaborator and Suicide Squad actor Nathan Fillion, who tweeted his condolences.

"I will remember his quiet wisdom, his limitless patience, and his slow walk. Good bye, little man. You gave the world your love, and left it a tiny bit better than it was."

Gunn, by the way, also recently tweeted that Wesley served as inspiration for his take on Marvel's alien tree creature Groot in Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 1 and Baby Groot in Vol. 2.

Suicide Squad is expected to wrap production in the next few weeks.


Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Anthony Mackie apparently still can't get over the fact that Avengers: Endgame ended up with Falcon assuming the mantle of Captain America.

While making the publicity rounds for Season 2 of Netflix's Altered Carbon, the actor couldn't resist, um, dishing about wielding Cap's iconic shield in the trailer for Disney+'s upcoming streaming series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which aired earlier this month during the Super Bowl.

"I was surprised that they used me because you have a double, a dude that looks like you who’s like a gymnast and he does all this stuff," Mackie told Comicbook.com. "That’s when they’re like, ‘All right, Anthony, you do it.’ And I’m like, ‘Dude, you just saw what this dude did! How you gonna asked me to do that?’ So, I was surprised when I saw the Super Bowl trailer that they actually used me throwing the shield."

While Marvel's highly anticipated show doesn't yet show the star suited up as the new Cap, it promises plenty of action, at least the way Mackie talks about how much use he's getting out of it.

"We only have six episodes but it's a massive undertaking, a massive project...It's Marvel," he added. "The story's there, the character's there but those action set pieces are just as vast."

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier premieres later this year.


Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for DreamWorks Animation Television

Guillermo Del Toro is teasing the final installment in his Tales of Arcadia trilogy of CG fantasy series for Netflix.

The Oscar-winning filmmaker took to Twitter to offer up the first image from Tales of Arcadia: Wizards, which premieres this summer on the streaming service and, as you can see, finds Merlin, looking rather concerned while behind him on a TV set looms an evil armor-clad enemy that briefly made an appearance in Season 2 of Tales of Arcadia: 3Below.

Created by Del Toro and produced by DreamWorks Animation and Double Dare You Productions. The Tales of Arcadia saga began with 2016's Tales of Arcadia: Trollhunters, which ran for three seasons and continued with 2017's Arcadia:3Below, which aired for two.

The first show centered on the inhabitants of the small town of Arcadia Oaks, where various otherworldly creatures, including trolls, aliens and wizards, secretly live. The second followed two royal teenage aliens on the run from intergalactic bounty hunters after their home planet is taken over by an evil dictator, who crashlands in Arcadia. While the swang song, Wizards, marks the return of several characters from the other series and brings the two worlds together in an apocalyptic battle.

It premieres this summer.

Updates From Candyman, Star Trek: Picard, and More @ io9

Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield’s FreakAngels is coming to Crunchyroll. Harley Quinn casts a few more members of Gotham’s rogue’s gallery. Plus, get a look at the next Star Trek: Picard, Legends of Tomorrow takes a trip to Mr. Parker’s Cul-De-Sac, and The Flash teases some big changes with the return of Wally West. To…

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Does our galaxy's huge black hole have a little black hole buddy? @ Syfy Wire

1p>In the center of our galaxy lies a huge black hole, so big we call it supermassive: It has the mass of four million times our Sun's. Called Sgr A* (literally spoken as "Sagittarius A star," or "Saj A star"), the evidence for it is overwhelming; we can see stars orbiting it, their positions changing over the course of years and in some cases months. The math of orbital mechanics tell us they are enthralled to an object with several million times the mass of a star, but if there were that many stars there they'd glow with fierce light. We see essentially nothing, so a black hole it must be.

But… is it alone? Could there be a second black hole there, one less massive but still dizzyingly hefty, orbiting Sgr A* closely?

There's reason to think there could be. Big galaxies like ours grow over the eons in many ways, but one big one is to eat other galaxies. If two galaxies get too close, their mutual gravity can draw them together until they collide and eventually merge. We know that most big (and many small) galaxies have supermassive black holes in their centers, too, so over time that second galaxy's black hole would fall to the center of our galaxy, and could settle into a tight orbit around it.

We know that the Milky Way has eaten many galaxies, including a decent sized one a couple of billion years ago. If that's the case, and there's another black hole in our galaxy's heart, how could we tell?

A team of astronomers tackled this question in a recent paper. Seeing this second (or companion) black hole directly is probably impossible, but the effects it would have on the region around our primary black hole could be detectable. They set about looking to see what these might be.

One effect would be on the orbits of the stars near Sgr A*, another would be on the matter (gas and dust) orbiting Sgr A* very close in, and a third would be on the emission of gravitational waves. So what did they find?

A simulation showing the positions and orbits of stars orbiting the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/spaceengine.org

There is a cluster of massive, luminous stars orbiting Sgr A*, called collectively S stars.

One of these, S2 (or sometimes S02), has an orbit just 16 years long. The orbit is an ellipse, dropping it down to a mere 16 billion kilometers from the black hole, close enough that it screams by at 2% the speed of light! Observations of the star's movement over time have constrained its orbit pretty well, so we have a decent grasp of its shape.

Actual images of stars in the galactic center taken over time show their motion around a massive, dark object: a supermassive black hole called Sgr A*.

That makes it a pretty good canary in the coal mine for the existence of a second black hole. If that black hole is too massive, or orbits Sgr A* far enough out, its gravity would affect the orbit of S2 so severely that it would become unstable over short timescales — the star would either get tossed away from the center, or fall into Sgr A*. Since we think the orbit is stable, that provides upper limits to how massive a second black hole can be, and how far it can get from Sgr A*. More subtly, over time the black hole can affect the shape and orientation of S2's orbit that we could observe, and if we assume that hasn't happened then we can say things about that black hole.

A lot of this depends on the orientation of the orbits, too. The research done assumes the star's orbit is tilted with respect to the orbits of the two black holes around each other. Interestingly, this allows the second black hole to be more massive and get farther from Sgr A* than if the star orbited in the plane; because the star's orbit is tilted it can get closer to Sgr A* than the second black hole! If they were all in the same plane that couldn't happen, since the orbit of the star might intersect that of the black hole, and a very close encounter would happen pretty quickly, and that wouldn't end well for the star.

A diagram of a potential second black hole (mc) in our galaxy center orbiting Sgr A*. The star S02 orbits Sgr A* as well, and would be affected by the gravity of the second black hole (Lin is the axis of the binary black hole orbits, and Lout is the axis of the star’s orbit). Credit: Naoz et al.

So what did they find? For example, if the second black hole is pretty beefy — say, 100,000 times the mass of the Sun — and has a circular orbit, then it cannot be more than about 25 billion kilometers from Sgr A* without severely affecting the orbit of S2 in a noticeable way. If it has less mass, say ten thousand Suns, it can be have a circular orbit much farther out, about 60 billion km, before it starts to perturb S2.

This gets complicated fast, since the mass of the second black hole and the distance and shape of its orbit all interplay. But the overall point is that we can set limits to its characteristics, and that by itself is interesting.

But can we see its effects? There is a disk of material, gas and dust, circling Sgr A* very close in. Called an accretion disk, it's very hot and emits light we can detect from Earth. This emission is not constant, but in some wavelengths like infrared the brightness changes on timescales as rapidly as hours and even minutes! The reason for this isn't known… but a second black hole on an elliptical orbit could dip down close enough to this accretion disk to affect it, perhaps even eating some of the material itself (which might explain flares in brightness seen recently). The new research shows that if the second black hole orbits closely enough, it could produce the variations in brightness seen in the infrared.

Cool. This isn't proof it's there so much as "proof of concept," meaning the numbers aren't too ridiculous. If there's a second black hole there then under some circumstances it could explain the brightness variations. Still, that's neat.

Artwork depicting two black holes orbiting each other. Credit: LIGO/Caltech/MIT/Sonoma State (Aurore Simonnet)

Finally they looked at gravitational waves. When two very massive objects orbit each other closely, they literally send out ripples in the fabric of spacetime. This is a prediction of general relativity, and we've seen this happen as neutron stars and black holes orbit each other and even merge together, creating quite a large bang. Running the numbers, they find that the gravitational waves emanating from a purported second black hole couldn't be detected with current technology. However, the European Space Agency has a proposed mission called LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Array) that could see these waves! LISA is being planned right now and could launch as soon as 2034. If so, and things work out well, we may not have to wait more than 15 years or so before a second black hole is found.

On the other hand, another star with an even closer orbit than S2 was recently found, and it might put tighter constraints on a second black holes' properties. The orbit isn't as well understood (it's fainter, and harder to pick out against background noise in images), but it's possible in time it might tighten things up.

It wasn't that long ago that we knew very little about the central few hundred billion kilometers of our galaxy, but that's changed. We see stars there, gas, dust, disks of material, and maybe, possibly, sometime soon we'll find out if a second monster lives there, too. Well, a mini-monster. And if we don't see it, we'll still be learning more about this crowded, bizarre volume of space around which our galaxy spins.

Why Is Courtroom Science So Unscientific? @ io9

May 15, 1989, 83-year-old Modine Wise was found naked and beaten in her home. The perpetrator left evidence scattered around her: a bloody handprint, a jacket, a pack of cigarettes, and two hairs. In February of 1991, the court sentenced 23-year-old Timothy Bridges to life in prison for the crime.

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Pick Up a SteelSeries Rival 600 Gaming Mouse For Just $41 Today @ io9

SteelSeries Rival 600 Gaming Mouse | $41 | Woot | Prime exclusive

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Genghis Khan, Scoots MaGoots, and Constantine vs. lung cancer in latest Legends of Tomorrow @ Syfy Wire

1p>The “encores” continue to cause trouble across the time stream, and this week legendary conqueror Genghis Khan is making a play for Hong Kong circa 1997. He also has a secret weapon.

Spoilers ahead for “Mortal Khanbat,” the latest episode of The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, which aired Tuesday, February 25, 2020.

In a world of straight-laced television, Legends of Tomorrow continues to be just gloriously weird in all the right ways. This week the team faces off against a resurrected Genghis Khan, who spent 700 years digging his way out of his tomb and is now trying to take over the Triad. The Legends try to take him during a Triad meeting, but a massive shootout breaks out, as the Arrowverse gets to do its best John Wick impression and it’s a ton of fun. 

Khan is admittedly a bit shallow when it comes to a Baddie of the Week, but he at least figures out the natural evolution of the horse to form the centerpiece of his modern day world domination: Scooters. Yeah, that’s right. Scooters. Nate started up the scooter craze this week with his own scooter (nicknamed Scoots MaGoots, because of course), and Khan takes the idea and runs (err rolls?) with it. When it’s all over, Charlie gets the drop on him and sends him back to the afterlife with his magical sword.

But the real story this week, honestly, is the character drama wrapped around the Baddie of the Week. With Sara still MIA taking care of business off-screen, Ava gets a chance to once again lead the team, and looks far more comfortable at the helm of this ragtag team of heroes. Charlie also returns this week, and we learn she and B hooked up after the HayWorld debacle (which was right after the timeline was altered and the original Zari was rewritten). They clearly have feelings for one another, and Charlie reveals he secret that’s had her on the run most of her existence (and why she most recently ran off without saying goodbye), finally coming clean to the team that she’s a "Fate" of the famed “loom of fate.”

The CW

She apparently broke the loom thousands of years ago and scattered the pieces across the multiverse, which was presumably enough to weaken her sisters (the other Fates of the Loom). But with the multiverse no more, al the pieces are now present on Earth Prime — and Charlie’s “sisters” are out to kill her.

Constantine’s sudden battle with lung cancer, brought about by Astra having his “soul coin” prematurely wound to its end, also picks up this week. In classic Constantine fashion, he’s bitter and pissed off and trying everything he can to stave off this fate. He even calls in Nora the fairy godmother for an assist, but not even her powerful magic can undo this fate. After raging against the dying of his light, though, Constantine comes to realize he’s not the same man he was a few years ago. He has people in his life who care about him, so after pushing away Gary and Ray, he decides to spend the evening bonding with his new mates.

But, growth or not, he’s still Constantine. When they toast Constantine’s life, he instead takes a poison to go out on his own terms. The move brings Constantine face to face with Astra, with just a few seconds left ticking on his life clock. But in that moment he finally gets through to Astra, promising he can bring her mother back to life and fix the mistakes that led Astra to become a jockeying demon of hell in the first place. The way to make that work? He needs a loom of fate. Yeah, it’s all coming full circle.

Oh, and we also got Prince Charles kicking it with Mick on the Waverider. And it was glorious.

Next up: Legends of Tomorrow returns on March 10. It looks to be a play on Mr. Rodgers, and oh! Damien Darhk is back (somehow?), so that should be wild.

Barry mind-melds to create Flash Grodd, Chester joins the team in the latest Flash @ Syfy Wire

1p>The weird fallout of Crisis on Infinite Earths continued to play out this week, as we pick up with Flash’s old foe Gorilla Grodd still locked up in a post-Crisis world trapped in a mind prison at ARGUS.

Spoilers ahead for “Grodd Friended Me,” the latest episode of The CW’s Flash, which aired Tuesday, February 25, 2020.

A whole lot of things change, but a few stay the same, namely the fact that Gorilla Grodd is still trapped in that mind device where we last left him a season or so ago. But, he finally gets a chance to escape when Barry tries to make some tweaks to his Gideon earpiece (with Chester hanging around to lend a hand, accidentally making it susceptible to Grodd’s intrusion), and the Gideon interface mind-melds Barry into Grodd’s mind. He initially traps Barry in a cage, showing him memories from his own captivity at STAR Labs in the pre-Flash days. 

But he soon comes clean about what he really wants — his freedom. It seems Grodd was spared from the merging realities of Crisis and remembers the world as it was, though he’s also aware of how things have changed. The biggest tweak in this new world? Gorilla City is here, and Grodd just wants a chance to live his quiet life in peace with his own kind. Barry is understandably skeptical at first, but comes to believe Flash.

The only way to escape this mindscape? A gorilla battle royale to get past the gatekeeper and free their minds. The only way to win is to merge into a super-fast Grodd Flash, complete with a lightning bolt on his furry chest. It’s a wild bit of action, and a team-up fans never knew they wanted to see.

The CW

Back in the real world, Team Flash is working with a whole new lineup, as Chester and Kamilla on comms as Barry heads off to battle the new and improved Pied Piper (you know, before he got sucked into the mindscape). Cisco is still on the road trying to chart the differences of the post-Crisis world (though he’s apparently headed back to town soon), and Iris is knee-deep in her investigation (with the real Iris still trapped in a mirror universe). That leaves Chester and Kamilla manning the comms at STAR Labs, and they do an admirable job keeping the Team Flash train running on schedule.

Chester takes some big steps forward this week, and shows his technological prowess helping save the day and bail Barry out of the mind-meld. If the team ever needs a new member to help out (or God forbid, replace) Cisco, he looks up to the task. He also brings a fun, excited energy we haven’t seen in a while around STAR Labs, and it’s a welcome change. It’s been a long time since anyone on Team Flash was truly geeking out about all this stuff, which was a charming bit of fun the first season or so. Chester brings that back in spades. He also helps Barry find where his parents are buried (the original cemetery apparently doesn't exist post-Crisis). It's a sweet moment, and shows Chester really does want to help and be a part of this effort.

Nash’s strange connection with Allegra also took a big step forward this week, as she discovered the photo of Nash and her doppelganger that Nash has been holding onto. He doesn’t come clean, though, because he’s pulled aside by those alt-universe Nash visions and warned that “He is coming.” Who is that mysterious person on the way? We’re anxious to find out.

Turning our attention to the mirror dimension, Iris is still tracked there with Eva, though we learn a bit more about Eva. Turns out she’s not as innocent as we’ve been led to believe. When Iris isn’t around, she communicates with Mirror Iris on the outside and talks about their “plan” in the works. So yeah, there’s definitely some shady stuff happening there. Here’s hoping Iris finally gets out soon.

Next up: The Flash returns on March 10. Wally is back, but he brings some bad news. Turns out the Speed Force is broken. Uh oh.

Project Blue Book podcast 2.6: Aidan Gillen and company make contact in 'Close Encounters' @ Syfy Wire

1p>Surprise! For the first time in Project Blue Book's two season history, "Close Encounters" flashes forward in the lifespan of Dr. J. Allen Hynek (Aidan Gillen) and Mimi Hynek (Laura Mennell). Using the esteemed ufologist's consultancy on Stephen Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind as a framing device for the Hynek's to reflect back on their investigations, the audience gets perspective on the past, specifically, the infamous Robertson Panel that determined the fate of the Air Force's Project Blue Book program. 

Here is the goosebump-inducing opening scene to the "Close Encounters" episode:

Meanwhile, the episode also continues the show's continuty with Quinn (Michael Malarkey) and Hynek working with an enigmatic new character that promises to help the pair conquer the Robertson Panel's intention to shut their work down.

Michael Malarkey as Captain Michael Quinn in HISTORY’s Project Blue Book, "Close Encounters"  (Credit: HISTORY)

**SPOILER WARNING: There are spoilers for Project Blue Book's "Close Encounters" episode below!**

Just how did this amazing episode come to be? Luckily, Project Blue Book: The Official Podcast has some answers. SYFY WIRE senior producer and host Tara Bennett welcomes back showrunner/EP Sean Jablonski, and castmembers Aidan Gillen, Laura Mennell, and Michael Malarkey.

Jablonski talks about breaking the show's typical format to recreate the classic film, the unexpected guest star at the center of the episode, and the return of a shady figure that deeply impacts Susie's (Ksenia Solo) perilous path. Meanwhile, the cast discusses making contact with Spielberg's masterpiece.

If you enjoy the podcast, please leave a review for us on iTunes, and share that we exist with all your Blue Book friends just catching up on the series. Reviews and shares help the podcast rank on playlists, and help boost overall awareness for the actual series.

Stick with us all season long for our proverbial peek behind the curtain into the making of every single episode of Project Blue Book Season 2.

In the meantime, you can watch Project Blue Book Season 2 new episodes on HISTORY.com. And for more information on the series and cases explored, check out HISTORY'S Project Blue Book.

Guy walks out to his front yard, finds a rock from the birth of the solar system @ Syfy Wire

1p>It’s not every day you get this kind of mail when you go outside.

Backtrack to last year for a second... something flashed across the sky, not unlike CGI special effects in a sci-fi movie. Erik Due-Hansen of Flensburg, Germany, walked out to his front lawn the next day, like any normal person would, except what he found wasn’t normal: a chunk of something from space.

Now fast-forward back again... turns out that wasn’t any ordinary chunk of meteorite (they are more common than you might think), but a relic of the solar system’s earliest epoch.

When he found out about that, Due-Hansen must have been like, "Mind. Blown."

The rock was studied up close at Institut für Planetologie at Münster University in Germany. After analyzing the specimen — now appropriately named Flensburg — with an electron microscope, professor Addi Bischoff and Ph.D. student Markus Patzek found tiny spheres otherwise known as chondrules, plus high levels of phyllosilicates and carbonates. This is how they determined it to be a piece of a carbonaceous chondrite.

“The daylight fireball was registered by an all-sky meteor camera…[and the rock] was recovered one day after the fireball event,” said Bsichoff and Patzek, who recently released their initial analysis of Flensburg (below) on the Meteoritical Bulletin, where they officially classified it as a carbonaceous chondrite.

This is kind of a big deal because carbonaceous chondrites are pretty much time capsules from billions and billions of years ago. They are some of the most pristine objects in existence — and are made of the same stuff as proto-planets that brought water to a nascent Earth. These primitive meteorites formed just when the solar system was being born, in oxygen-rich regions, so that the metals found in them are usually in silicate, oxide, or sulfide form. They also have the closest known chemical composition to that of the sun, except touching them won’t burn your hand off.

Carbonaceous chondrites are also extremely rare, making up only three percent of the meteorites and meteorite remnants that fall to earth. You might have heard of the Murchison meteorite. Not that it tastes great, but it has an unusual amount of amino acids and sugars. Amino acids are some of the necessary components of life that comprise DNA.

When scientists merge information from specimens like Flensburg with other space rocks, the results can be surprising. Ryugu’s surface was eerily reminiscent of a carbonaceous chondrite. Many scientists believe the meteorites Flensburg and other similar rocks came from probably looked much like Ryugu (top) before they hurtled towards Earth and most of their bodies burned up in the atmosphere. Further studies still need to be done to see if there really is a missing link there.

Regardless, this is proof that you really never know what you’ll find when you open your door in the morning.

(via Gizmodo)

DVD Review: The Twilight Zone: Season One @ SciFi Mafia

Genre: Sci-Fi |Drama | Creators: Simon Kinberg, Jordan Peele Original Broadcast Network: CBS All Access Discs: 4 Run time: Approximately 9 hours, 21 minutes (13 episodes) Synopsis: Enter another dimension with Jordan

Indiana Jones’ lost Ark found again...on Antiques Roadshow @ Syfy Wire

1p>Somewhere in the bowels of Skywalker ranch, the original Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark may rest — perhaps even boxed away to slumber for another eon in a dark, musty recess not unlike its final storage place in the landmark 1981 movie. But if you want the next best thing to the sacred relic that melted faces on the big screen, the prop version of the Ark that showed up recently on Antiques Roadshow is your surest bet.

To the delight of staffers on the long-running PBS series, the unnamed owner of the treasured artifact wheeled in a version of the Ark he said his father — a former Industrial Light and Magic employee — helped create while working as a pyro technician on the Steven Spielberg-directed, George Lucas-created first film. By the time appraiser/host James Supp arrived at the prop’s estimated value, the money felt like almost an afterthought, as you can see below...

Antiques Roadshow PBS on YouTube

So where has the Ark been hanging out all this time? In the owner’s apartment, where he confessed it served as blanket (maybe holy shroud?) storage during his formative years. And even though this version isn’t the one we see on screen, Supp said its backstory actually makes that “the best part about it.”

“That original prop is somewhere in the Lucasfilm archives at Skywalker ranch,” said Supp, adding that “this is the closest anybody in the private market can get to owning the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The owner’s father actually cobbled the relic together in crude, made-for-abuse fashion, with hot glue serving as a fixative and the tops of real trophies standing in as makeshift adornments on the Ark’s look-but-don’t-touch lid.

“This has every indication that it was thrown together as a movie prop,” said Supp, noting that the Ark’s stand-in decorations differ from those designed for the screen version by late, great ILM illustrator and concept artist Ralph McQuarrie. McQuarrie’s creation, he added, was “what inspired me to get into antiques, because he made antiques sexy and cool. And the Ark of the Covenant was the main object of desire — the McGuffin — of one of the most successful movie franchises of all time.”

Not that we’d be in a hurry to profit from a vessel that specifically targets the greedy for destruction, but we know you’re dying to know what one of movie history’s most potent artifacts is worth. Supp said a conservative estimate would place its value between $80,000 and $120,000, but added that he “can even see it getting into the quarter of a million dollar range” with the right mix of treasure-obsessed bidders.

“Not bad for hot glue and spray paint,” the owner responded — though we have to wonder if you can really put a price on a holy artifact that, as Indy knows firsthand, you should never try to behold at full power.


One of the Very Best Batman Movies Gets a Worthy, Gorgeous Poster @ io9

Everyone’s always arguing about Batman. Who played him best? Whose costume was the best? Who had the most supple Bat-lips? It never ends. Then, of course, there’s the debate over which Batman movie is the best. Is it The Dark Knight? The 1989 Tim Burton version? The 1966 Adam West film?

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WIRE Buzz: Lovecraft scares up escape room; Peacock goes full Fan Girl; more @ Syfy Wire

1p>The unimaginable and madness-inducing horrors conceived by H.P. Lovecraft are coming to Seattle this summer in the form of a new escape room from Hourglass Escapes, LLC. The company is known for its well-received Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn experience.

Titled Arkham Horror Files, the latest escape room creation is licensed by Asmodee Entertainment and Fantasy Flight Games, the publisher of popular games like Arkham Horror and KeyForge. Arkham is the name of a fictional town in Massachusetts that served as the setting for several of Lovecraft's 20th century horror stories. However, Arkham Horror Files is directly based on the author's famous 1931 novella, "The Shadow over Innsmouth," which dealt with Dagon and the Deep Ones.

"It was such an amazing experience developing and opening the Evil Dead 2 Escape Room,” said Hourglass Escapes founder/creative director Seth Wolfson in a statement. “We feel so lucky to have a chance to create a new experience based on the iconic board and card games set in the Arkham Horror universe published by Fantasy Flight Games.”

Credit: Hourglass Escapes, LLC

Traveling back in time to 1927, players must solve the mysterious murder of the Gilman Hotel owner over the course of 70 minutes or "fall prey to eldritch horrors." Yuri Lowenthal (voice of Peter Parker in Spider-Man for the PS4) serves as the in-game narrator. In addition, the press release promises that "players will be able to download their characters and costume ideas. They will also receive a special item on arrival that will help their chosen character within the game."

"This new game is going to blow both Arkham Horror and Lovecraftian fans away,” added Wolfson. “Based on 'A Shadow Over Innsmouth,' this will be a story driven escape room with the classic Arkham Horror Files game mechanics woven in."

Arkham Horror Files arrives in Seattle this summer.


Peacock's genre slate just got a little bigger. Deadline has confirmed that NBCUniversal's subscription streaming service is developing a sci-fi comedy series entitled Fan Girl. (SYFY WIRE is also owned by NBCUniversal.)

Hailing from Claudia Lonow, creator of How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life), the show centers on "badass freedom fighter, Morrigan Chase. Morrigan escapes certain death in a far away galaxy via a wormhole and lands in the closet of her biggest Fan Girl — edibles-loving Beth — who’s watching similar events unfold on her favorite show, Dominion."

Credit: Richard Foreman / Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Beth and Morrigan will fight evil each week in an effort to get Beth back home. As time goes on, the pair form a close-knit and unexpected friendship.

Sean Hayes, Todd Milliner’s Hazy Mills, and Universal TV are producing.

Peacock launches for Xfinity customers Apr. 15 before going wide July 15.


Paramount's Snake Eyes origin movie has officially wrapped production, the film's main star, Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians), confirmed on Instagram earlier today. It seems like just yesterday that principal photography was kicking off its Japanese side of production.

"...and THAT, is a principal wrap on Snake Eyes lady's and gents," wrote Golding in his IG post. "What a crew we had, Vancouver + Japan, you were unstoppable. Thank you for the dedication, this film is going to blow everyone's socks off."

Helmed by Robert Schwentke (FlightplanRed), the project will explore the origins of the ninja member of the G.I. Joe team. Evan Spiliotopoulos (Beauty and the Beast 2017) wrote the screenplay.

Golding's co-stars are Samara Weaving as Scarlett, Úrsula Corberó as The Baroness, Iko Uwais as Hard Master, Andrew Koji as Storm Shadow, Steven Allerick as Snake Eyes' Father, Takehiro Hira, and Haruka Abe.

Snake Eyes sneaks into theaters Friday, Oct. 23.


Blerd Rising Star: The art of Black manga with Nikolas Draper-Ivey @ Syfy Wire

1p>When Nikolas Draper-Ivey was a kid growing up in Detroit, his dad spoiled him with comics and manga collections. Not many other kids in his elementary school had watched Akira. He wasn't anime-exclusive, though, Draper-Ivey loved superheroes and anything fantasy-related, too. But when a friend gave him his entire collection of Shōnen Jump magazines, Nikolas spent hours carefully cutting out the stories in each issue and stapling them together to create his manga collection. He studied every piece of art he could get his hands on.

His Miles Morales cosplay put him on the map as a young creator when his resemblance to the character made him semi-famous at conventions across the country — which helped kickstart his creative journey. He dreamed of becoming an artist, so after high school, he eventually made his way down to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) to hone his craft. All the while, Draper-Ivey built a massive fanbase on Tumblr and Instagram, amassing fans around the world for his manga-style artwork.

A few years later, the artist had a full portfolio but empty pockets, and that’s right around the time he was introduced to basketball star Johnny O'Bryant, who was opening up the U.S.-based manga publisher and entertainment company Noir Caesar. His first project with the team, XOGENASYS, is currently in production at D’Art Shtajio Studios in Japan, directed by Arthell Isom.

Draper-Ivey’s biggest break came when Interscope Records reached out to ask him to draw the cover for Kendrick Lamarr’s Black Panther soundtrack. The work hasn’t stopped since. These days, he's is a little less broke and a quite bit more famous. SYFY WIRE spoke with him about his project XOGENASYS, Dream Vesper, and his obsession with Final Fantasy.

Credit: Nikolas Draper-Ivey

It sounds like you were always a creative child.

Yeah, even when my mom would punish me, I would find some creative way around it. One time, she took away my toys and I took these little index cards and made little figurines of them. To this day, she brags to our friends. “I would take away all of his stuff and he just made new stuff!"

When were you introduced to Marvel comics?

That's around the same time my dad showed me issues of X-Men and all that kind of stuff. One of the comics he gave me was a Robin III comic by Tom Lyle, who passed away recently. So my dad gave me this comic years ago and my mom was not happy and so she took them away. [When I was older] I got them back and I applied to go to SCAD and the guy who ended up reviewing my portfolio is Tom Lyle. He was one of my SCAD professors. It really came full circle.

Why did you decide to cosplay Miles?

We didn't know who the next Spider-Man in the movies was going to be. And it was like, “Well, why not? It could be Miles.” People would tell me all the time that I looked like him. [So I decided to cosplay as him].

I remember trying to get my friends to help me put it together and everything. Once we finished it, we were like “Whoa.” I got back to Savannah and we took pictures in areas that kind of looked like Brooklyn at the time. And then I put them on Tumblr. And I think, "Remember when that was popular?" Then it spread to Facebook. I didn't expect the cosplay to blow up the way that it did.

The next thing I knew I was on BuzzFeed and then a video game thing and BET and it just spread. And I'm like, WTF? I kept saying, “Guys, I'm an artist! I don't want to be known for this. I want to be known for my art.”

Credit: Interscope Records

So did that lead to any commissions or any work? Were you able to show your portfolio at cons and get work that way?

I would just like to show my work to people and get portfolio reviews. Like meeting [original Miles Morales artist] Sarah Pichelli was great. Getting critiques from the original artist was dope. Granted, I haven't done anything for Marvel. Well, that's not exactly true...

Well, there's that album cover you drew for the soundtrack of a little movie called Black Panther.

Well yeah, but I haven't done anything for Marvel comics yet. Everyone thinks I want to draw Spider-Man. But no, If I was going to touch anything at Marvel, I would love to reboot Blade.

Speaking of the Black Panther soundtrack, how did you land that?

I was doing another project and I remember that winter was just brutal. And one day someone from Interscope Records was in my Instagram DMs. “Hey, you know, I'm interested in you doing a project for an album.” I had to ask my roommate who Interscope was. And he's like, “Dude, that's like Eminem’s label.” My roommate convinced me to answer it. And when he told me what the project was, I was shocked, you know?

And they wanted such a simple design. I remember trying to convince them, “I can draw way more intricate things.” But Kendrick Lamar really wanted just the Panther necklace. It was really a cool moment. I was a little bitter at the time because they didn't credit me in the album. But at the same time, everybody that needed to know that I did it knew it, and it opened a lot of doors for me.

Credit: XOGENASYS art by Nikolas Draper-Ivey

Let's talk about Noir Caesar. What made you decide to work with them?

Money! No, actually, another friend of mine, which I think you interviewed, Mikail Sebastian, he recommended me for this project because I was struggling at the time. At first, I didn’t know if I wanted to do it. But we're rivals — we’re good friends, but we’re rivals too. And he says, “Well if you don't do it, I will." I just couldn't let him have that over me, so I joined them too.

When I first started working on XOGENASYS, I hated it at first. I was like, “ Oh my God, I can't do this.” But the more I was able to have input, and the more I ended up drawing Darius, it started to grow on me. They kinda let me co-write some of it. So I was able to kind of put some of my pain and emotions into that character and kind of breathe more life into him.

Credit: Nikolas Draper-Ivey

In the future, these MMA fights called XOGENASYS run everything. Everybody's a fan of my XO and it's a big deal that the main character, Darius, ends up getting drafted into it. It’s not a typical battle manga, it’s really about how he copes with being successful way too quickly. He's afraid of success because success implies he has to keep that going. He has to maintain that.

What was it like working with Jonny Bryant?

I saw what his vision was and I think that was another reason that I joined them. I was impressed with his work ethic. We didn't always agree, but it was like a brotherly butting of heads. My view was, "We're black and people are automatically going to expect us to screw up. They expect us to make mistakes, they expect us to not get it right. So we have to make sure we go above and beyond to make sure this is right. We’ve got to bring our A-game."

Are you a bit of a Final Fantasy fan? Dream Vespers seems to reflect that influence.

Yes! I don't know if you remember on G4 when they had [that show about gaming] Cinematech? They would show cut scenes and music from games. I remember I was cleaning my room one day and the TV was on and I heard the opening for Final Fantasy VIII and I was just so inspired by that. I love the lore and the art and the music and what goes into making it. It’s all of the behind-the-scenes stuff I really, really like.

It looks like your obsession paid off. On Instagram, we saw you were hanging out at Square Enix headquarters in Japan, right?

Yeah. One of my friends is a translator there and when I went to Japan I asked him if I could come to visit. I also know Kenji Niki, one of the art directors there, so it was great. In fact, originally when I first did Dream Vesper, I wanted it to be a Square Enix Platinum game.

Credit: Nikolas Draper-Ivey

The art is stunning. What’s it about?

Dream Vesper asks the question, “What if every nightmare you've ever had was meant to save your life?” In that story, there are these demons that feed off of your depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, trauma, and all of your negativity. They kind of create this alternate mirror reality inside of your dream where everything is perfect, but it’s a trick so that you stay there and die. It's the job of the main character, Lace, to pretty much go in and fight off these creatures. If he’s successful, the person only remembers the nightmare.

Do you still want to work for Square Enix?

I really want to work with Square Enix, not for them. When you work with [a company], it's a collaboration. You still have rights to your stuff and you can build together.


Supergirl's 100th Episode Tackled Its Most Divisive Relationship @ io9

From a 13-episode order on CBS to 100 episodes after a shift to the CW, Supergirl has come a very long way. Often an uneasy mess, but forever entertaining, the show has frequently served as the CW’s love letter to the Silver Age of comics. From Supergirl battling ice versions of her dead relatives to flying robot…

Read more...

Disney chief Bob Iger, architect behind Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar gains, steps down after 15 years @ Syfy Wire

1p>Disney chief Bob Iger, a creative chief who guided a wave of seismic transitions at one of the world’s biggest entertainment companies, has stepped down as CEO, according to multiple media reports. Under Iger’s tenure, Disney grew exponentially with its investment in Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar, and showed huge gains in the form of a major studio buyout and the launch of a successful streaming platform.

In a career that’s rewarded sci-fi, fantasy, and animation fans with many new avenues for tapping into their passion, Iger’s departure comes at the end of his most recent major push: the long-awaited arrival of Disney+. The debut late last year of Disney’s family-friendly streaming service won fans early with its stable of Marvel and Star Wars features — especially its early breakout original hit, The Mandalorian

Since replacing Michael Eisner as CEO in 2005, Iger has been at the center of some of Disney’s biggest creative pickups. In 2006, Disney acquired animation powerhouse Pixar, followed in 2009 by its acquisition of Marvel Entertainment — now arguably the most bankable brand in all of movies. With Marvel’s ongoing push to extend the MCU to the small screen with soon-to-arrive Disney+ series like WandaVision, Loki, Hawkeye, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Iger steps aside at a time when two of his biggest initiatives over the past decade — TV streaming and the expansion of the MCU — are converging to extend Disney’s reach even further. 

In 2012, Disney acquired Lucasfilm in an arrangement that reignited the Star Wars franchise with the conclusion of the restarted Skywalker movie trilogy, as well as plans for future films and streaming shows like The Mandalorian, an Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff with Ewan McGregor, and a Rogue One spinoff that follows the earlier adventures of Cassian Andor. 

In perhaps Iger’s biggest achievement as CEO, Disney enormously expanded its entertainment offerings with its mammoth acquisition of 20th Century Fox last year, in the process bringing hugely popular franchises like Avatar, The Simpsons, and X-Men into the fold. 

Iger came to Disney from ABC television in 2000, serving as president and chief operating officer until replacing Eisner in 2005. Disney has named Bob Chapek, formerly the head of the company’s parks division, as Iger’s replacement. Iger himself will continue to serve as Disney chairman through the end of 2021, with Disney reportedly intending to retain him, according to Variety, “to lead the company’s creative endeavors.”


Why actors are no longer silent about criticizing their own franchises @ Syfy Wire

1p>When Harrison Ford was recently asked about the possibility of Han Solo being a Force ghost in the Star Wars franchise, he responded in his own unique manner: "A Force ghost? I don't know what a Force ghost is. Don't tell anyone. I'm not talking loud enough for your recorder. I have no f**king idea what a Force ghost is. And I don't care!"

Bless you, Harrison Ford. Shine on, you cantankerous diamond.

If you're in any way familiar with Ford, how he talks about arguably his most famous character, and being part of one of the biggest and most beloved film series on the planet, none of this will be shocking to you. He's always been candid and grouchy about his involvement with Star Wars, mocking the way that fans take the mythos so seriously and happily admitting he was happy for the payday when he returned for The Force Awakens. Frankly, I think most fans would be disappointed if he suddenly started spouting bland platitudes about how it's such an honor to be part of geek history and all that jazz. Ford's broad cynicism about his own movies isn't just par for the course now: It's something that audiences expect and kind of love.

Ford has never been unique in this regard. Pop culture history is full of stars, creators, and associated people criticizing their own franchises, properties, and beloved work. Arthur Conan Doyle could barely hide his disdain for his own creation, Sherlock Holmes, while Elizabeth Taylor famously called Butterfield 8, the movie she won her first Oscar for, a "piece of sh**." Typically, however, this is considered unwise behavior. Rule one of Hollywood: don't bite the hand that feeds you.

Things, however, have changed a lot in recent years, and now some of the industry's biggest stars are speaking out in interviews and on social media about the faults in the franchises that made them famous. It's been less than two months since the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The internet has shared its opinions multiple times over, but surprisingly, the most outspoken voice in the conversation is John Boyega. Over the past few weeks, he's clearly been having the time of his life trolling Reylo fans, bragging about waiting to get paid for the movie, and generally acting in the kind of giddy, carefree way one can only do when no longer under contract to a major media monopoly. Some fans have expressed displeasure at Boyega's attitude, but others highly relate to his mood.

This wasn't limited to Boyega or his Twitter account either. Many fans picked up on how utterly over the entire franchise many of its stars were, with Oscar Isaac looking ready to tap out in every interview.

Outside of a galaxy far far away, Bucky Barnes himself Sebastian Stan took to Instagram to share his seeming displeasure over the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its treatment of Barnes and Steve Rogers' relationship. Boyega even welcomed Stan into his new little club of franchise stars who have had enough, a group already heavily populated by half the cast of Game of Thrones.

Once upon a time, it would have been utterly unthinkable for any actor to so openly mock and deride their own projects in this manner. Careers have been killed in this business by loose lips and moments of brutal honesty that irritated the people in power. Remember when Megan Fox talked about the nightmare of working with noted creepy misogynist Michael Bay and got fired from the third Transformers movie for her troubles? Coincidentally, Shia LaBeouf, her male co-star, never faced the same sort of repercussions for his own derision of the franchise. At the very least, people getting this candid are usually forced into a PR mandated apology cycle where they claim they were misquoted or had a bad day and that they were eternally grateful to the mega-corporations for keeping them on the books. Now? Well, some people just don't have the time for that.

Some people have always been able to speak out in such a manner, and it's usually white dudes. White male privilege is one of those things that can make arrogance and general jerk behavior seem "charming," even when it's clearly not. I do think it's worth differentiating between actors just being jackasses and those who are clearly frustrated and feel somewhat smothered by their experiences on a property like Game of Thrones or Star Wars.

The behemoth of geek culture and its many fandoms is a heavy cross to bear for any actor who just wanted a job. Being in a series like Star Wars or Marvel comes with near-insurmountable expectations and the never-ending attention of millions of fans and critics. Arguably more than even the filmmakers and studio powers crafting these stories, it's the actors, the public faces, who carry the weight of that attention. They're the ones who by and large face social media wrath over unpopular decisions. It's the actors who have to deal with the over-emotional and over-attached fans, some of whom are often extremely rude in settings like conventions. They have to be the marketing face of an almighty brand that demands everything from them in terms of talent and emotional energy, and they have to do it with a smile. It's no wonder some end up overwhelmed by that.

I'm not suggesting that this sort of pressure gives anyone permission to be a jerk. Far from it. What we're currently dealing with is, I believe, more complex than that. Nowadays, what we are seeing from people like Stan, Boyega, Emilia Clarke, etc., is the personification of fan frustration made flesh through those figures that publicly embody those beloved properties. When Clarke, Kit Harrington, Peter Dinklage, and seemingly the entire Game of Thrones cast expressed their obvious disdain and cynicism with the direction of the final season during their promotional cycle, it felt like the fans who pushed back so ferociously against its many egregious faults were being legitimized. There was a sense of freedom in seeing someone as sharp and professional as Tyrion Lannister himself look utterly over everything. It wasn't just us who had a problem, see?

It can really suck to see the show or movies you love make disappointing or flat-out stupid creative choices. Fandom is now so corporatized and appropriated by businesses that it seems as though speaking out in any form is tantamount to treason. "Real fans" don't see the fault. "Real fans" are blind in their total allegiance. Fandom is not life or death, but it's often made to feel like that by studios and producers who demand a level of loyalty that borders on insidious. Even separate from that mess, fandom can be all-consuming in wonderful and terrible ways. We get the best and worst of ourselves from that. So, when I see Harrison Ford or John Boyega reminding us all once again that Star Wars is just a movie, they offer a sense of proportion that I and many fans often keenly need. That's not to say that such an approach is for everyone. I fully understand why some people would feel hurt by the seeming glibness of this behavior (although let's not forget just how much racist abuse has been leveled at Boyega for the past few years, often by Star Wars fans). I think it's important for these actors who have to deal with so much from these franchises to occasionally let the world know that it's OK to just see these beloved properties as nice gigs with some fun benefits. This is a business, after all.

Frankly, it's a good thing to see actors not feeling constrained by the threat of repercussion from these mighty corporate entities who seem to own everything in modern entertainment. Just because you're an on-screen hero doesn't mean you should be honor-bound to live up to an impossible image that no mere human could maintain. Besides, in the grand scheme of things, no matter how many jokes John Boyega cracks about Star Wars, Lucasfilm is and always will be fine.

Meet Burryaga Agaburry: Wookiee, Jedi, and Very Good Star Wars Boy @ io9

Their names are legend: Therm Scissorpunch. Babu Frik. Baby Yoda. Each is a new Star Wars character we instantly fell in love with the moment we met them. And now, there’s a new member of that group: Burryaga Agaburry.

Read more...

Stone Tools Suggest Supervolcano Eruption Didn’t Decimate Humanity 74,000 Years Ago @ io9

Humans may have continued to thrive in spite of a supervolcano eruption 74,000 years ago, according to a new study. The finding could have important implications for our understanding of human history.

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WIRE Buzz: The Simpsons' Hank Azaria talks stepping down from Apu. Plus, Indiana Jones 5, more @ Syfy Wire

1p>After facing criticism over his character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, The Simpsons voice actor Hank Azaria went against the grain with the show’s creative team and offered to listen to those who called the portrayal racist. He then stepped down from voicing the character earlier this year. Now, he’s explaining why.

One of the biggest factors was the Hari Kondabolu-penned documentary The Problem With Apu, which highlights the depiction of the animated East Indian convenience-store owner that has its white voice actor traffic in racist stereotypes. Azaria saw the documentary, assessed the situation, and turned in his resignation from the character. "Once I realized that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn’t want to participate in it anymore. It just didn’t feel right," Azaria told The New York Times.

The actor explained that he’d based the character on Peter Sellers' role in The Party, another brownface performance. “That represents a real blind spot I had. There I am, joyfully basing a character on what was already considered quite upsetting," Azaria said.

While plans for the future of Apu have yet to be announced, Azaria explained that the writing staff of the legendarily longevous cartoon took his decision in stride. They were "very sympathetic and supportive” about his exit — though whether they will take the criticism to heart and rewrite the character after recasting him, or write him off the show completely, is yet to be determined.


 

Next, Harrison Ford had a few things to say about the upcoming fifth entry into the Indiana Jones franchise. On the press tour for his film The Call of the Wild, the Star Wars icon spoke about how difficult it was to return to old series and do right by the expectations of the fanbase. But, citing the MCU as a touchstone, he promised that he’d only come back for this treasure-hunting tale if they were able to knock it out of the park.

Speaking to Hey U Guys, Ford explained that he’s not coming back to Indy for fan service. “I don’t really want to give them what they want to see, I want to give them something they didn’t anticipate seeing,” he said. “They are used to a degree of disappointment when you revisit. Certainly, the Marvel movies have made a spectacular example of a success that worked the other way around, they killed it! Well, we’re not going to make another Indiana Jones unless we are in a position to kill it.”

But when will that be? Here, the actor echoed Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy, saying that pre-production was still underway for the movie. “We’ve got some scheduling issues and a few script things still to do,” Ford said, “but we are determined to get it right before we get it made.” They have plenty of time to iron out all the wrinkles and connect all the clues because there’s over a year before the next film is scheduled to premiere.

Indiana Jones 5 will swing into theaters on July 9, 2021.


 

Finally, a fan-favorite animation is putting fans into the sandals of the samurai. Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time takes the Genndy Tartakovsky staple and reimagines him as the lead in a hack-and-slash Musou-style game, where a player runs around as Jack and lays waste to anyone or anything that would oppose him.

The Adult Swim series was beloved by many, as Tartakovsky is an animation favorite behind the likes of Primal and Star Wars: Clone Wars. Now, fans can enter into his world (albeit with a different look).

Check out the trailer below:

Different iterations of the hero — some in his classic garb, others bearded and with a machine gun — battle monsters, demons, and more in the time-warping game. As long as he can kill Aku, all will be well.

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time hits PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC this summer.

Meet the new Slimer! Ghostbusters: Afterlife scares up first look at new spook Muncher @ Syfy Wire

1p>The next generation of Ghostbusters is on the way, and we're finally getting a peek at one of their new spectral adversaries. Hasbro's roll out of products for the upcoming sequel Ghostbusters: Afterlife at Toy Fair in New York offered a first glimpse at a very hungry phantasm.

The toys, which go on sale this summer, also put a name to this new ghost. Muncher — who can be seen ever so briefly towards the end of the film's trailer — appears to be Afterlife's answer to Slimer, the insatiably hungry potato-shaped spirit from the original Ghostbusters movie in 1984 and its 1989 sequel. According to the packaging on one of the toys, he's "a blue ghost with a taste for anything metallic," and "Muncher loves making mischief."

It's unclear whether he'll be friend, foe or frenemy for this new group of Ghostbusters, which includes Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard and Mckenna Grace, who get an assist from Paul Rudd. In the film, the events of the original Ghostbusters, including the Manhattan Crossrip of 1984 and the gigantic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, are long forgotten. That is until the characters played by Wolfhard and Grace discover their grandfather had a connection to that paranormal history and soon all hell breaks loose in the rural town of Summerville, Oklahoma.

Among the new toys are a Muncher action figure, whose translucent belly reveals that recent meals have included a stop sign and a fire hydrant. There's also an ecto-plasm lab set, complete with a slime-spewing Muncher figure, and a cute plushie toy that makes a special noise when hugged.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife Muncher action figure (credit: Hasbro)

Ghostbusters: Afterlife ecto-plasm lab set (credit: Hasbro)

Ghostbusters: Afterlife Muncher plushie (credit: Hasbro)

Directed by Jason Reitman (son of original franchise director Ivan Reitman), Ghostbusters: Afterlife opens July 10.

Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego sets Bandersnatch-style choose your own adventure @ Syfy Wire

1p>It worked for Black Mirror, so why wouldn’t it work for a lighter animated story — one that already has its roots in video games? Netflix has just debuted a new teaser for an upcoming choose-your-adventure story set in Carmen Sandiego’s globe-trekking universe. And just like its darker cousin, your choices will affect the outcome (though we’re betting those multiple endings are happier).

All but assuring the same kind of repeated watch-throughs (or should we call them play-throughs?) that Bandersnatch enjoyed on its way to an Emmy Award last year, the new interactive adventure features the same kind of forking paths and “what will you choose?” moments that helped elevate the Black Mirror standalone special to something greater than just a one-off novelty act. 

Check it out below:

Netflix Futures on YouTube

Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal finds our sneaky explorer in the streets of Shanghai, trying to make the right choices to free Zack and Ivy from the clutches of V.I.L.E. (the Villains International League of Evil) after they’re captured during a heist. The interactive way of moving the story forward harkens to Carmen Sandiego’s old-school gaming DNA. You can go covert (risky), or take the fight straight to the bad guys (risky and dangerous) — but, as Netflix promises, the choice is yours.

Bandersnatch’s success with both fans and critics means Carmen Sandiego isn’t the only place we’re likely to see more stories that merge pre-scripted content with viewer input. Netflix is even billing To Steal or Not to Steal as an “interactive game” rather than a sit-back-and-watch TV show, and already had teased more choose-your-adventure style programming once Bandersnatch took off with audiences. 

We’ll get our next taste of participating in the action when Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal premieres on Netflix beginning March 10.

And the Title of Jurassic World 3 Is... @ io9

Dominion.

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Yum Yum what? 7 weird toys you can actually eat! @ Syfy Wire

1p>Who among us has never put their toys in their mouths? It's a rare kid who can resist the urge to taste-test their shiny new action figures or dolls.

But there's a whole sub-section of the toy industry built around that innate desire. There are even some toys that are actually edible!

Take, for example, the classic Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine. It's an odd use of the Peanuts license that gave kids the chance to turn ice into fruity tasting treats ... and yet this may be the most famous toy with Snoopy's likeness that's ever been made.

Another example is Pez, the dispensers of which feature the likenesses of popular cartoon, comics, TV, and movie characters. These toys may not offer much in the way of playability, but there is a certain joy that comes with carrying around your favorite heroes and eating candy from them.

The granddaddy of them all is the Easy-Bake Oven, which debuted in 1963. While we wouldn't recommend eating the oven itself, it really does work when used properly. It's also been upgraded to the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, which has a few more bells and whistles.

The trend of edible toys didn't stop here. In fact, things got even stranger! Are you ready for Jell-O slime toys and mad scientist soda makers? If you didn't let out an evil laugh while playing with these toys then you're doing it all wrong.

For more weird toys that you can actually eat, check out the latest episode of SYFY WIRE's Toy Masters!

New No Time To Die Featurette Highlights What's at Stake in James Bond's Next Mission @ io9

Though the James Bond franchise will continue after Daniel Craig no longer stars as the titular secret agent, Cary Joji Fukunaga’s No Time to Die will bring the story of this incarnation of the character to a fittingly epic end.

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New fusion tech utilizes lasers to bypass sun-like temps and get rid of nuclear waste @ Syfy Wire

1p>You know what this world needs now… aside from love, sweet love, of course? Less nuclear waste. But it also seemingly needs more and more power, which nuclear would be great at providing, if not for all that pesky waste and those darn radioactive meltdowns that can happen when you go around splitting atoms (fission). Which is where nuclear fusion was supposed to help out, but generating Sun-like temperatures to recreate the processes that power our Earth-powering star have kept that technology at bay.

Well, we may be a lot closer to utilizing the power of fusion, thanks to the revolutionary thinking of HB11, a company that recently secured patents in the U.S., Japan, and China for just that kind of forward thinking technology. And if all goes according to plan, it could just change the world of electricity generation as we know it.

HB11, a group of scientists with roots at the University of New South Wales in Australia, fuses hydrogen and boron-11 (HB11) together using lasers in order to generate charged helium atoms and create a nuclear reaction. No heating of fuel required, a step that in other forms of fusion necessitates temperatures upwards of tens or hundreds of millions of degrees C — aka hotter than the Sun. So yeah, you can immediately see the benefits of lasers.

Granted, though lasers are known for their precision, HB11 approach isn’t exactly precise, as they’re not using the lasers to heat the materials, but instead trying to speed up the hydrogen enough so that it collides with the boron and begins a reaction. All of which requires just a bit of luck.

“You could say we're using the hydrogen as a dart, and hoping to hit a boron, and if we hit one, we can start a fusion reaction,” HB11’s managing director Warren McKenzie tells New Atlas. Granted, he claims their approach is “more precise” than radioactive fuel powered fusion reactors, which just heat things up (a lot!) hoping for similar collisions.
 
On their website, HB11 notes the many benefits from utilizing this revolutionary new approach to fusion, which McKenzie says is already working far better than expected: it’s carbon neutral; the fuel, Boron 11, is not radioactive and abundantly and easily found in nature; the reaction is aneutronic, “meaning it does not produce neutrons responsible for the safety issues associated with most nuclear reactions”; there are no reactor meltdowns; the energy isn’t intermittent, “allowing generation of baseload power to a grid”; and since no turbines are necessary, the whole operation is scalable to the point that it could power not just cities, but also ships, mines, and factories.  

And, not for nothing, there’s no nuclear waste, as the only waste product is harmless inert helium. ​In a world that needs an abundance of power and a whole lot less emissions, HB11’s fusion model could just be a bullseye.

(via Popular Mechanics)

Jurassic World: Dominion finds a way to begin production and reveal its title @ Syfy Wire

1p>The third Jurassic World film, the dinosaur romp that will see the returning cast from the iconic first trilogy of Jurassic Park movies, has begun production. But that's not all. According to returning director Colin Trevorrow (back in the saddle after handing over the reins to J. A. Bayona for Fallen Kingdom), the film also finally has an official title: Jurassic World: Dominion.

Evocative. Spooky. Things aren't looking good for humankind as dinosaurs reclaim Earth. This information all comes from a tweet posted by Trevorrow which shows off a clapperboard festooned with the Jurassic logo and the new title, all in celebration of the first day of production on the franchise's third entry.

Take a look:

The director also, replying to the tweet, said that more set photos were to follow on his Instagram page:

Little is known about the plot for Dominion, though Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum will all reprise their Jurassic characters alongside returning faces like Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, BD Wong, Jake Johnson, Omar Sy, Daniella Pineda, and Justice Smith as well as newcomers like Dichen Lachman. All fans can expect is those dinos that ran out of the Lockwood estate to have flourished out there in the world...possibly now holding Dominion over its denizens.

Jurassic World: Dominion is set to hit theaters June 11, 2021.

A history with dementia made Twin Peaks: The Return a tough watch @ Syfy Wire

1p>Even if you've never watched Twin Peaks, you probably know a little bit about it through cultural osmosis. There's a small town in middle America, a girl is found dead, the FBI shows up, and things get strange and surreal, with people talking backward and cryptic clues delivered by a lady cradling a log in her arms. On the surface, that's a decent enough explanation of Twin Peaks, but it skims over a lot of what makes it such a difficult, fascinating, and complicated show to watch.

Twin Peaks initially follows the story of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (played by Kyle MacLachlan) as he visits the small rural town of Twin Peaks, in the hopes of solving the murder of Laura Palmer, a seemingly beloved young woman who is found washed up on a beach. Cooper is presented as a quirky but effective investigator, a little disconnected from social norms, but charming, polite, and intuitive. He's likable, open to finding clues in dreams or damn fine cups of coffee, and trusts his gut instincts above all else.

Over the course of the show's first two seasons we are introduced to a series of memorable characters from across the town, whose lives become as much a part of the show's identity as Cooper or the mystery of Laura's murder. These two seasons are about understanding how the inhabitants of this small town are interwoven with each other, which remains something of a constant throughout the show's earliest episodes. When all else fades away, they are about understanding the town, as much as the crime that took place there.

The show's creator, David Lynch, never intended for Laura Palmer's murder to be solved on the show, believing it was the central mystery that allowed the rest of the show's mystery plot threads to work, but his hand was forced by the show's producers. Laura's killer was revealed during the show's second season, causing Lynch to leave the show after his six contractual episodes, and when he eventually returned, it led to Lynch taking some pretty drastic steps with the direction of the show's plot.

Lynch returned to working on Twin Peaks for a couple of episodes at the end of the show's second season, but rather than providing fans answers and closure, he used the final few episodes to set up a brand new mystery. Our protagonist, Dale Cooper, had seemingly had his body possessed by the ghost of an evil serial killer, a doppelganger, and none of the characters we had spent countless hours watching had any idea.

Credit: ABC

And that was it. For 20 years, that was where the plot of Twin Peaks ended, with a huge new mystery, and no closure. It's a big part of why the show ended up with such a cult following, this show with a likable cast of characters set up a huge cliffhanger for its hero, and for a few decades fans had nothing to do but speculate, and hope for more episodes of Twin Peaks to one day be created.

I explain all this context, because it's important to understand something about David Lynch before we move forward. As a creator, he doesn't like having others dictate where his plots should go, and he doesn't like his narratives ending neatly wrapped up. So, after 25 years of silence, when Twin Peaks: The Return finally aired as a third season, it shouldn't be a surprise that it departed drastically from what audiences thought they wanted to see.

Where fans had spent 25 years expecting to see their favorite show pick back up right where it left off — with the Dale Cooper we know and love as the protagonist, trying to find a way back to Twin Peaks to capture the killer running around with his face — what we instead got was a show set largely outside of Twin Peaks itself, following characters other than the Dale Cooper we knew. It carried the same name, but our protagonist was essentially unrecognizable.

For the vast majority of Twin Peaks: The Return, Kyle MacLachlan plays a version of Dale Cooper who, after 25 years trapped in The Red Room, escapes back into the world, dropped into the life of Dougie, a man who looks like Cooper but is living a very different life. Cooper is trapped in an unfamiliar body, in an unfamiliar life, and in the transfer he loses a significant part of who he is.

Credit: Showtime

He awakes to a wife and child he doesn't know, unable to talk or communicate his needs. He can't remember who he is or manage basic tasks like dressing himself or going to the bathroom unaided. He can only seem to follow very simple instructions, or parrot words back that he has heard others use, and is forced to try to navigate a life he doesn't seem to understand.

Throughout the bulk of The Return, we see a character who we recognize, who looks like someone important to us, unable to remember who he is, or properly communicate his own needs. Our once competent hero looks just like he always did but is almost unidentifiable due to how much of his personality has disappeared.

As someone with a family history of degenerative mental health conditions, as well as family friends effected by similar conditions, I have more than once in my life had to watch someone I know start to lose their connection to themselves, and the world. A lot of what I have experienced over the years was present in The Return, mirrored by Cooper's journey.

My grandmother, who passed away after a battle with a brain tumor, started by forgetting words here and there, getting amused and frustrated when she couldn't remember what the TV remote was called. By the end, she couldn't remember where she was, or who I was, for reasonably large stretches of time, with only brief windows of lucidity. Most of the time, she thought she was much younger than she was and thought she was somewhere else in the country.

There was an old man who lived across the road from me growing up who had dementia. I remember him once walking over to our home completely naked late at night, taking our silverware from the kitchen drawer, and trying to take it home with him. His wife eventually caught up to him, apologized, returned our silverware, and took him home. He got increasingly frail and would get upset and confused if left alone, quickly losing track of where or when he was. Caring for him became his wife's full-time job.

I've lost people in my life to a variety of conditions over the years, but degenerative mental health conditions are perhaps some of the most emotionally difficult ways to watch someone you know be taken away. Watching them slowly become someone you visibly recognize, but who has become somewhat of a stranger to you, is incredibly jarring. Whether intentional or not, Twin Peaks: The Return reminded me of the experience of living around someone who is slowly losing the mental abilities, while still physically present. It made the bulk of that season very tough to watch through but served the narrative of the season well.

From watching Dougie's son having to help him eat breakfast to seeing him struggle to find his way home, it's hard watching a character we know, who was previously so independent and self-sufficient, relying so heavily on the compassion and care of those around him to survive. Dougie is brought to his office but doesn't remember what he's meant to do there. He's recognized, but by people he can't seem to place. He's asked about completing tasks he doesn't ever remember being given. He's floating through life requiring others to point him in the right direction, hoping things work out okay.

It's in many ways made all the more difficult to watch by his moments of lucidity, the moments where the Dale Cooper we remember is shining through on the surface. From his love of coffee persisting to his quick reflexes in moments of physical danger, his ability to tell when people are lying still, and his glimpses of memory of his former job, we keep seeing flashes of the person we know is in there, but dare not hope to connect with. Dale Cooper is clearly still in there somewhere, but he can't connect with enough of his identity to get himself somewhere that people know him and can help properly.

Credit: Showtime

Those moments of lucidity, where he remembers something he used to like drinking, or a word that had significance to his old life, only reinforce the fact that most of the time that person we remember simply isn't present. Without those moments of lucidity, it might have been easier to move on, and accept that the person we knew was gone.

But all throughout the season, the bright light that kept me watching was the support of Dougie's family, friends, wife, and coworkers. The people who knew him best could see he was struggling and went out of their way to try and help him keep living as normal a life as he could. They tried to make concessions, to make him feel included, and to make him feel loved. They may have occasionally struggled to understand what he wanted or needed, but they went out of their way to try and keep him included in the world.

Every scene Cooper spent as Dougie, I was on the edge of my seat, hoping nothing bad would happen to him, hoping he would avoid pain and suffering he couldn't understand. Every time someone took a shine to him, supported him, or appreciated his presence in the world, it seemed to make every effort the world had made to keep him included worthwhile. It was the one bright spark in a season that was often tense and unsettlingly unfamiliar.

By the end of Twin Peaks: The Return, Agent Cooper does eventually get back his memory and his sense of self. He makes sure things are set up so that the family who cared for him can have a comfortable life, and we get the eventual relief, if only for a few episodes, of seeing the person we had been missing all this time returned to us. But, in reality, that is rarely ever the case. Degenerative mental health conditions rob us of the people closest to us, and much like the bulk of episodes during The Return, it can be incredibly tough to watch unfold.

Hasbro's Black Widow toy line spins a deadly web of new characters and costumes @ Syfy Wire

1p>Natasha Romanoff's solo adventure in Black Widow is still a few months away from hitting the big screen, but Hasbro gave us a sneak peek of the movie's characters and costumes at the New York Toy Fair this week.

This new line showcases the screen-inspired looks for Natasha (Scarlett Johansson), Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Alexei Shostakov/Red Guardian (David Harbour), and the film's big bad, Taskmaster (who's playing him is still a mystery). Curiously missing from the bunch is Melina Vostokoff (played in live-action by Rachel Weisz), Romanoff and Belova's fellow Black Widow.

Take a look below:

Credit: Hasbro

Credit: Hasbro

Credit: Hasbro

Credit: Hasbro

Credit: Hasbro

Who's the big guy at the bottom? Why, that's the Crimson Dynamo, of course! Just as Red Guardian is the USSR's answer to Captain America, the Crimson Dynamo is basically the Soviet equivalent of Iron Man. Anton Vanko was the original "CD" in the comics, but the only Anton Vanko we know in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Iron Man 2's Whiplash (played by Mickey Rourke). Despite having the same name, Whiplash is not the same character. 

Does this mean Crimson Dynamo will be making his MCU debut in Black Widow? It would be the perfect place for it. Sadly, we have no definite answers on that front at the moment. All we know for sure is that you can build the Crimson Dynamo piece-by-piece as you collect a number of Marvel Legends toy packs that contain pieces of his figure.

All of Hasbro's Black Widow products go on sale this spring.

Black Widow climbs up the water spout and into theaters everywhere Friday, May 1. Written by Eric Pearson (Thor: Ragnarok), the movie is the second female-led project at Marvel Studios after 2019's Captain Marvel. Helmed by director Cate Shortland (Berlin Syndrome), it takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War, but before the onset of Avengers: Infinity War.

Quench your excitement with all of the Toy Fair photos we took of the new line in media gallery below...

WIRE Buzz: Liam Neeson is done with superheroes and Star Wars, Candyman drops first teaser, more @ Syfy Wire

1p>Liam Neeson is an actor with a diverse filmography that includes period dramas, romantic comedies, and, in recent years, lots and lots of action movies. Neeson has spent much of the 21st century making films that cast him as a dangerous man willing to dive off the deep end to survive or to save someone he loves, and that means he's no stranger to fight scenes and stunts. Even with his action pedigree in mind, though, Neeson now says he's done making superhero films, and we shouldn't expect to see him return to Star Wars either. 

Speaking to Entertainment Tonight while promoting his new film Ordinary Love, Neeson was asked, in light of his participation in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, if he'd ever want to return to a superhero franchise. The response was a direct one:

"I'll be honest with you, no. It's not. I'm really not a huge fan of the genre," Neeson said. "I think it's Hollywood with all the bells and whistles and the technical achievements and stuff — which I admire — but I have no desire to go into the gym for three hours every day to pump myself up to squeeze into a Velcro suit with a cape."

Neeson's participation in major science fiction franchise in which he gets to duel with swords also includes his legendary performance as Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, and while the character remains a popular one, Neeson also doesn't seem too interested in playing Qui-Gon in live-action ever again. 

"I admire the actors and I know some of the actors who do it — and do it fantastically. It's just not my genre, it really isn't. The first Star Wars, I was in that, that was 22 years ago, and I enjoyed that, because it was novel and that was new," he said. "I was acting to tennis balls, which were ultimately going to be little fuzzy furry creatures and stuff. That was interesting, acting-wise, to try and make that seem real, but that was the last. It's quite exhausting."

At 67, Neeson is still happy to throw himself into action-movie roles — he noted he's actually in the middle of shooting one at the moment — but don't expect him to launch another superhero franchise role anytime soon.


 

Candyman, director Nia DaCosta's upcoming spiritual sequel to the 1992 slasher classic, is hitting theaters in less than four months, but until this week the film's hype machine was driven only by its name and the list of people involved. In addition to DaCosta in the director's chair, Oscar winner Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) is behind the camera as both a writer and producer, and the talent in front of the camera includes rising star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (AquamanWatchmen) and the great Tony Todd reprising his role as the hook-handed, bee-infested urban legend himself. 

So far, that roster of talent and the promise of a film that builds on the original legend of the character in the same Chicago neighborhood where it all began has been enough to get horror fans excited. Candyman has all the trappings of the kind of franchise kickstarter we've come to love thanks to recent films like Halloween. Now, at last, we finally know when we'll see a trailer. 

The official Twitter account for the film activated Tuesday morning with a promise that tweeting #Candyman five times will make the film "haunt your feed." To emphasize this, the tweet also included a short teaser video featuring various characters from the film daring to say the name for themselves. 

The first trailer for Candyman will arrive Thursday, so check back here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of that. Candyman hits theaters June 12. Check out the first teaser poster for the film, featuring some familiar imagery, below. 

Photo: Universal Pictures


 

Any time Nicolas Cage wants to enter a strange world or horror, from the acid-drenched violence of Mandy to the Lovecraftian nightmare of Color Out of Space, we are game. Cage's next trip into the world of the horrific is the upcoming film Wally's Wonderland, and the first look from the film recently surfaced while it seeks international distributors at Berlin's European Film Market. 

Wally's Wonderland stars Cage as The Janitor, who finds himself trapped inside an old family fun facility with a teenage girl named Liv (Emily Tosta). The horror arrives in the form of the old animatronic characters inside the place, who happen to be possessed by dark forces. With no way out, Liv and The Janitor have to do whatever they can to survive the night. 

Kevin Lewis (The Drop) is directing Wally's Wonderland from a script by G.O. Parsons, who shared the first look at Cage's character on his Instagram account. 

According to ScreenDailyWally's Wonderland is already making sales in various foreign markets, but does not yet have a U.S. release date.

Locke & Key’s Meredith Averill on Grief in Horror and Her Elm Street Dream Project @ io9

Locke & Key’s journey to the small screen was a long and winding one that culminated in something new for Netflix: a single season of television that somehow managed to pack what was essentially the whole of a comic book series’ plot into 10 tightly-crafted, hour-long episodes. Even more impressive, though, was the…

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The MCU finally welcomes the X-Men, at least in the world of action figures @ Syfy Wire

1p>In the wake of the Disney-Fox merger, one of the major points of impact for the genre world (and the film industry in general, seeing as Marvel Cinematic Universe films are always a healthy percentage of the Disney-dominated box office) was the addition of the Fox-owned Marvel superheroes into the MCU. The X-Men. The Fantastic Four. Now that Disney owns Fox's film business, that means it's time for a grand reunion for the comic heroes...but it'll take a while for all that to manifest on screen. Stories need to be written, films need to be greenlit, and iconic actors (Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, for example) need to be recast for the MCU. But there's one place where the merger has already brought everyone together: the world of action figures.

For the first time, Marvel-branded toys with the film likeness of the Fox X-Men (like Jackman's Wolverine, Josh Brolin's Cable, and James McAvoy's Professor X) are appearing alongside The Avengers that film fans know so well. As revealed at the New York Toy Fair, these toys represent the physical manifestation of a corporate acquisition that will soon impact the biggest film franchise in the world. Disney's impact is already bringing the traditional X-Men franchise together with Deadpool, which poked fun at its own limited roster of mutants.

SYFY WIRE was on the ground documenting the new toys. Take a look:

These toys join the roster of Marvel Legends, a Hasbro toy line that's previously tied into The Avengers video game and various comic lines alongside the MCU films. Now, the Deadpool and X-Men characters have joined the fun. Those two groups (Deadpool, Domino, Cable; Professor X, Magneto, Mystique) don't have official product descriptions immediately available, but the Wolverine figure's Hasbro information directly cites the X-Men films as its inspiration. That latter figure is an Amazon exclusive that comes out this Fall at a $24.99 price point.

But that seasonal date doesn't mean much. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige promised at last year's San Diego Comic-Con that the newly acquired characters would be blended into the shared universe, but there still hasn't been an announcement of when that'll take place. With the MCU so precisely modeled out by the architect Feige, this step might not be overly indicative of coming plans — but it's certainly a sign that the slow corporate cogs are churning as these characters are slowly swallowed up into the Disney machine.

Additional reporting by Alexis Loinaz.

Daniel Radcliffe and Samara Weaving underwent major transformations for Guns Akimbo @ Syfy Wire

1p>Remember two years ago, when a picture of Daniel Radcliffe in a bathrobe, fuzzy slippers and — oh yeah — two giant freakin' guns stapled to his hands started making the rounds on the Internet, achieving instant meme status? Well, sorry to disappoint, but no, it wasn't some Britney-level meltdown for the former Harry Potter. Instead, it was for a scene from his upcoming action/comedy, Guns Akimbo, a gonzo shoot-'em-up made through a lens of video games and social media.

Coming to theaters on February 28, the movie stars Radcliffe as a down-on-his-luck mobile app programmer and online troll who becomes an unwitting participant in the Internet's latest twisted viral sensation: Skizm, a massively popular series of live-streamed mano-a-mano death matches between dueling psychos — the dystopian version of America's Got Talent. After being enlisted for the game — and outfitted with those aforementioned gun hands — against his will, Radcliffe's Miles is then forced to compete against Skizm's reigning champ, Nix (Ready or Not's Samara Weaving).

When SYFY WIRE sat down with the pair in Toronto following the film's TIFF premiere, Radcliffe described the movie as "a Jason Statham movie directed by Edgar Wright." Full disclosure: That's a bit of an oversell. But it does get to the heart of Guns Akimbo's full-tilt, heavily stylized, video-game-inspired approach. ("It's just chaos. And madness," promised Weaving.)

It's also fully in line with the increasingly out-there roles Radcliffe has taken on post-Potter, which include (but are not limited to) playing a re-animated, flatulent corpse in Swiss Army Man, a guy who suddenly sprouts devil horns in the aptly titled Horns, and a low-level angel named Craig in Miracle Workers. For a guy who's essentially playing with house money at this point, no one can accuse the former child star of playing it safe.

That said, it's not like Radcliffe is intentionally going out of his way to distance himself from Hogwarts, he told us. "Everyone always wants to assume that every film I do is a comment on films I used to do. But they're not. I don't want people to forget that I played Harry Potter. I loved playing Harry Potter. It was ten years of my life that I loved," he told SYFY WIRE. "I don't have to kill Harry Potter to make films now. I will always love what those films did for me."

And even though the actor's done plenty of genre work in recent years, that, too, was more coincidental than part of some master plan. "I forget that I keep picking genre movies, and then everybody's like, 'Hey, you did another genre movie!' And I'm like, 'Oh yeah, I did …'"

"All I can say is I think there's something fun about not doing films that are totally naturalistic," Radcliffe continued. "With this and with Horns, and I guess a little bit with Swiss Army Man, there's a sort of weird, magical-realism, modern fairy tale thing to them. The blending of fantasy and reality is something that I think is just very fun to play around in."

Credit: Madman Films

Well, that and the pants-free wardrobe. "If I can be in boxer shorts and slippers and a dressing gown in every film for now on, I'll be very happy," he joked. As for the other key part of that costume, Radcliffe eventually got pretty proficient with those bulky gun hands, according to his co-star. "You were helping people out," Weaving recalled, laughing. "Like, 'Here's your coffee.'"

"I got good, yeah," agreed Radcliffe. "I got really good." By the end, he could even put on pants all on his own, no outside help needed (unlike his character Miles). "I could do that myself! I couldn't button them, but I could do it."

Weaving — who's quickly developing a reputation as an up-and-coming genre badass after Ready or Not — had her own costume-related challenges playing Nix, a Gatling-gun-toting sociopath who sports the antisocial trifecta of metal fangs, face tattoos, and shaved eyebrows. It was a look that posed a real problem for Weaving on the days she was too tired to undergo the lengthy process of getting the makeup removed after filming, she said.

"Everyone started treating me differently. Like, people would cross the street to avoid me, and people would constantly be checking my ID," she recalled. "They wouldn't let me in buildings. When I tried to get dinner after work, I'd be turned down."

"With the costume and makeup, that's when I really felt Nix come to life," she said.

Credit: Saban Films

So, considering he's having so much fun doing quirky indie genre movies these days, would Radcliffe ever consider a return to the franchise that made him a household name? "I don't want to say no or yes, to be honest. I think this is just a thing that's happening on the Internet," Radcliffe said. "I don't think this is actually a thing that Warner Bros. is talking about, or anybody's actually talking about …"

"It would depend on so many things," he continued. "It would depend on what my state of mind is, it would depend on what the script was. There's so many things to take into account that I feel like a hypothetical is a hard one to answer in any sort of satisfying way."

Until then, Radcliffe fans will just have to take solace in the fact that the actor is continuing to seek out offbeat new projects like Guns Akimbo instead of living in the past. And as for that Jason Statham-meets-Edgar Wright elevator pitch? "I hope all the parties involved are complimented by that. As I feel they all should be. I love Jason Statham movies," Radcliffe made sure to qualify. Forget a Potter redux. Maybe that's the part Radcliffe should go after next.

Anyone know if the Fast & Furious franchise is still hiring?

 

 


Samurai Jack Gets Its First Video Game In Over A Decade @ io9

Samurai Jack, the popular Cartoon Network series that recently received a much-needed conclusion on Adult Swim, gets its first new video game adaptation since 2004 this summer.

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Star Trek: Picard's Showrunner Defends Its Moral Darkness: 'Shadow Defines Light' @ io9

Star Trek: Picard has set itself in a time where the franchise’s venerable Federation is in a moment of moral crisis. Beleaguered by tragedy after tragedy, it has seemingly buckled and become fundamentally stagnant. For some fans, that darkness doesn’t feel like Star Trek, but for showrunner Michael Chabon, it’s a…

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There's a Lot More Happening Inside Mars Than We Knew @ io9

Scientists have published a treasure trove of new research from the InSight lander’s first year on Mars, showing just how active the Red Planet really is.

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Theme Park News: A secret hack activates Chewbacca as your copilot in Galaxy's Edge @ Syfy Wire

1p>Welcome to Theme Park News — we have a lot to discuss, particularly in Disney's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Hop in, and let's make the jump to Hyperspace with a familiar friend ...

LET'S TALK ABOUT "CHEWIE MODE"

The biggest news to break this weekend for Star Wars and Disney Parks fans alike is that there's a secret way to "hack" Smugglers Run and obtain Chewie Mode. First discovered and tested by YouTube channel FreshBaked Disney, the secret mode on Disney's Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run attraction at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge overrides the system to unlock a full Chewie narration (which consists of grunts) throughout the experience. The discovery is cool, sure, but it's rare — very rare — that something this under-the-radar is discovered with nobody really knowing it existed, solidifying this find as major theme park news.

For those who have not yet had an opportunity to ride the new Millennium Falcon motion simulator at Disney World or Disneyland, the ride puts you inside Han Solo's famed hunk of junk for a mission to "collect" containers of something called coaxium. Each cockpit seats six people, split up into three occupations — Pilot, which is far and away the best assignment given that you steer the ship; Gunner, who aimlessly shoots to break containers of coaxium loose; and Engineers, who do lord knows what in the back row. (I've sat in that seat a half-dozen times and ... I couldn't tell ya. The switches are fun to play with, though!)

If you happen to visit the parks with a group of six folks, Smugglers Run is a gloriously fun spire-skimming party, but visit with anything smaller and you'll likely be mashed up with another family. If all three positions were equal, the forced teamwork could be both fun and virtuous — kind of like how the best way to beat Toy Story Mania's volcanic round is to explode the balloons in tandem — but they're not equal. Pilot is so far superior not just because one of 'em gets to thrust the group into hyperspace, but because they truly, in the full sense of the word, control the collective experience.

As I've written before, this is problematic because Walt Disney World is built on a digital system that guarantees visitors certain experiences, particularly those on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Want to ensure your son will meet Cinderella? Nab a dining reservation for her Magic Kingdom restaurant and you can have him dream of that day without worry. Making the Floridian pilgrimage exclusively so your daughter can plunge through the elevator shafts of Tower of Terror? Book it with FastPass+ and it's all but certain you'll make it on board.

Smugglers Run is the only attraction at Disney World that seemingly breaks those rules. Having a young child or confused adult or an annual passholder who's been on a dozen times and just wants to see what it's like to crash the ship at the helm feels distinctly un-Disney, granting guests who paid the same and planned the same significantly different experiences. (It's worth noting that you can't "request" the pilot position; they're assigned and groups are left to switch among themselves.)

As cool as Chewbacca mode sounds, I'm fearful that it may double down on this shortcoming. Or, as one of my favorite folks on Twitter put it:

I love the idea of secret hacks within this ride, especially to boost its video-game-like qualities, but I just wish it was one that toyed with those pre-existing positions, maybe giving engineers and gunners something more to physically do. Either way, it's unbelievably interesting that this exists and I'm hoping there's more out there.

Curious to do it yourself? According to FreshBaked Disney, here are the steps to unlock Chewbacca Mode:

First and foremost, do not activate your position right away like you normally do. Left and right pilots need to push their controls to the extreme left/right or extreme up/down. Once you've done that, hit your activation button.

Engineers and Gunners need to hit one of the white buttons on their console before hitting the orange activation button. Kind of like using the shift key on a keyboard.

Finally, be sure you've done this BEFORE the cast member finishes checking your seatbelts (pull the yellow thingy) and he hits his "ok to go" button.

And that's it. Do it right and Chewie will be yelling at you for five minutes. Miss a step and you get Hondo and his canisters.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT

By now, most theme park fans are aware that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the crazy-cool new ride at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, is still operating with a digital "boarding group" system distributed at park opening. With groups being called at different rates each day and the distribution program playing like a luck of the draw, it's all kind of shrouded in mystery — until now.

Touring Plans posted a really interesting chart of recent boarding group data, marking how many groups got through each day, what "backup" boarding groups were called, and sussing out just how many people seemingly made it through:

Touring Plans' Brilliant Graph

There's even a grid breakdown with really interesting details of when boarding groups were called and how the ride was operating this month. If you're curious about the intricacies of how Rise of the Resistance is pushing crowds through on either coast, I highly recommend checking it out.

TWEET OF THE WEEK:

Put me in a time machine please and bring me back to vintage EPCOT just one time. Just one time!!

LINKS LINKS LINKS!

- SAME.

- Best Cosplay ever, sorry, I don't make the rules.

- This just in: a really solid selection of new Mulan merchandise.

- EPCOT: Into The Epcot-Verse.

- A man lost 150 pounds walking around Disneyland eating corn dogs?! A HERO AMONG US.

- Epcot Food & Wine obsessives: booth menus have been revealed.

- Europe's largest indoor park is opening in a matter of days.

- There's an interactive Invisible Man experience outside Universal Studios Hollywood that sounds delightfully creepy.

- The Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge team cleaned up at Toy Fair 2020.

- And now, something scarier than your morning commute.

- Easily the coolest girl gang on Batuu.

- Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort is doing a cute Leap Year spa special, if you need an excuse to burn through those vacation days.

 

 

Aliens' Newt is more than someone to be saved @ Syfy Wire

1p>When you think of the Alien franchise, you usually think of Ellen Ripley, the xenomorphs, artificial persons, and the marines. However, there is someone else who should instantly come to mind: little Newt. It's a shame how she was wasted in Alien 3, as she earned a spot in at least one more movie. Newt wasn't merely a child who needed to be saved. She was more than that. While it's an absolute honor to be considered a sidekick to someone like Ripley, anyone who could survive xenomorphs on their own deserves their flowers and should be regarded as a hero in their own right.

For those unfamiliar with the Alien series, Newt is a small child we don't meet until Aliens. She is discovered by Ripley and the group of marines who come to Hadley's Hope after all hell breaks loose. They find her scared but in full survival mode. She had somehow managed to outlast everyone else in the terraforming colony, and not because she just so happened to be lucky. Her survival is thanks to her own wits. You don't survive an entire calendar month in a place crawling with lethal killers solely on good fortune. In the Alien: Sea of Sorrows novel, written by James A. Moore and Dirk Maggs, there is evidence to support how much of a tiny badass Rebecca "Newt" Jorden is.

Credit:20th Century Fox/Brandywine Productions/Aliens

Newt was the first resident born to the Hadley's Hope colony on Acheron, also better known in the Alien universe as LV-426. If the name sounds familiar, that's because it's the same moon where Ripley and the crew of the Nostromo made the unfortunate discovery of the alien derelict ship. And it's this same ship that Newt's parents found, and their discovery led to the events that orphaned their daughter. Newt was a native resident — she knew the colony setup like the back of her hand. This more than likely allowed her to forage for food by using air ducts and crawlspaces the xenomorphs couldn't get to.

Actually, in the novel, after a xenomorph bursts through Newt's father's chest and makes its way into the air duct, Newt is the reason she, her brother, and friend manage to evade despite being in those very same air ducts. She frequently won the game of monsters; the children in the colony would play in those spaces for a reason. A queen of detail and spatial awareness, Newt wasn't new to any of this but very much true to it. When dealing with something as dangerous as a xenomorph, knowing your way around an enclosed space can be a lifesaver. Just ask Ellen Ripley: Knowing her way around the Nostromo saved her life a couple of times.

Everyone knows a big part of the Alien universe is having to deal with men, and usually men who make you contemplate whether having a facehugger could be a better option than actually having to interact with them. Prior to Hadley's Hope going to hell in a handbasket, Newt had her fair share of dealing with how utterly irritating the male species can be in the form of her older brother. Even as a child he was showing signs of being more of a nuisance than actual help. In the midst of things going wrong in the colony, Newt's brother was still giving her a hard time. During the adventure described above — being stuck in an air duct with a xenomorph — Newt's brother almost gets them killed with bad directions because he didn't want to listen to her after she suggests taking another route. Newt stands her ground; they end up taking her route instead and living to see the colony fall into complete demise. Newt is the Hadley's Hope Moses, if you will, only she brought herself to the promised land.

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Brandywine Productions/Aliens

Ellen Ripley didn't go back into the bowels of hell to save an ordinary helpless child. Even though Newt may have been riding Ripley's hip as they made their escape from the xenomorph nest, please believe Newt's fighting spirit had everything to do with inspiring Ripley to go back for her. She's a fighter, a master navigator, a leader, and never should be considered a sidekick. The marines were Ripley's sidekicks and we all know how all but one of them ended up by the time the last sleep pod closed on the Sulaco.

First look at Project Blue Book's Close Encounters of the Third Kind flash forward @ Syfy Wire

1p>While we may not know all the truths of UFOs or the unclosed cases of the real Project Blue Book, what is absolutely undisputed is the wealth of knowledge and experience that Dr. J. Allen Hynek brought to the table. As a real investigator for the Air Force's investigations into the unexplained (including Project Blue Book), Hynek evolved into a global expert on ufology, even creating the first classification system for UFO close encounters.

Some may not know that one of Hynek's admirers was director Steven Spielberg, who named his 1977 UFO classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, after Hynek's classifications. The director also invited Hynek to serve as a technical consultant and appear in the film, where he shows up in the third act as an observer of the aliens who arrive at Devil's Tower. 

Up until now, HISTORY's Project Blue Book series narrative has existed only in the late '40s and early '50s. But in tonight's episode, "Close Encounters," the story jumps into the future with Aidan Gillen as Hynek getting a cinematic glow up in a recreation of the ufologist's cameo and time on Spielberg's set.

SYFY WIRE has the exclusive first look at the episode. ...

And don't worry, the series is still sticking with its timeline. "Close Encounters" will reveal how Hynek's remembrances of the past while filming the movie connect to what happened to him and Quinn (Michael Malarkey) as the infamous Robertson Panel threatened their investigations. 

On this week's SYFY WIRE Project Blue Book official podcast, we've got executive producer/showrunner Sean Jablonski, along with Gillen, Laura Mennell (Mimi Hynek), and Michael Malarkey to speak to us about what they thought when they cracked open a script that transported the story forward to 1976, recreating a film that made a lasting impression on all of them.

Aidan Gillen as Dr. Hynek in Project Blue Book's "Close Encounters" (Credit: HISTORY)

In the meantime, catch up with the Season 2 storyline as Hynek and Quinn have unexpectedly found themselves in competition with the CIA's confidential investigations. All of it threatens a turf war between government departments who have vested interests in keeping UFO stories locked down. You can download last week's official podcast here.

New episodes of Project Blue Book air Tuesday nights at 10/9c on HISTORY.

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