Triton's new bubble-sub is the deepest diving acrylic underwater craft ever built @ Syfy Wire

If your exotic travel plans call for taking an oceanic plunge to go inspect the wreckage of the Titanic anytime soon, you might want to take a look at this next-generation bubble-sub from Triton Submarines that can safely dive down to an astonishing 13,123 feet if so desired.

Equipped with an acrylic ball cockpit and cool pair of extendable gull wings, Triton's Titanic Explorer 13000/2 will be fully rated for underwater excursions nearly three miles down and is currently the world's deepest diving personal sub.

The clear, distortion-free operator/passenger cockpit is crafted from a single section of thick acrylic, which is then heated and molded into a circular shape to deal with the intense pressures encountered at extreme ocean depths.

 

Credit: Triton Submarines

The Florida-base company has been manufacturing luxury civilian submarines for over ten years, and divides up its marketing program between a range of scientific explorers, commercial or cinematography customers, and elite super-yacht clients hoping to add some high-end water toys to their lives.
 
Titanic Explorer will be fortified with battery power and life support for two-person expeditions taking 12 hours or more yet uses only 40 kWh worth of battery. Four main and four auxiliary direct drive electric thrusters each deliver up to 5.5 kW. Fully outfitted, the craft tips the scales at 26,455 lbs and measures 14.6 x 9 x 9.8 ft. when completely folded.

One intriguing new feature is the Silent Glide mode that operates as the sub is descending, which allows the craft to make gentle, sweeping turns, maintain a fixed heading, track objects, or drift towards a specific target without using thrusters. This ability allows operators to not disturb ocean creatures or add unwanted motor noise to video recordings.

Besides the structural ability to sink down to check out the Titanic site, owners can also do so in record time as its articulating gull wings fold neatly against the canopy sides to create an efficient hydrodynamic shape that delivers you to the wreckage location in only two hours, rather than the customary duration of nearly three hours.

Credit: Triton Submarines

These twenty-foot wings also house the sub's propulsion units and can be lifted to a horizontal state as to not disturb the ocean floor silt after you’ve hit bottom. Having the option of the active folding wings is also convenient for small garage parking spaces or narrow rock gaps requiring a slim profile to easily slip through.

Triton has not listed the official price or estimated availability for the Titanic Explorer yet, but with these incredible custom features and deep-diving potentials, it’s not likely to be cheap.

Indie comics Spotlight: How African comic creators Kugali called out Disney and won a collaboration @ Syfy Wire

Of all the projects announced on Disney's Investor Day in October of 2020, Iwaju, the new animated project currently in production with African media company Kugali Media might be the most fascinating. Along with The Princess and the Frog’s Tiana and Moana, the new project from the fledgling company known for creating indie African comics is among the first long-form animated series Disney Animation has ever done and the first headed to the Disney Plus streaming service. Additionally, Iwaju will be the first original long-form animated series ever produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios in its 97-year history.   

Kugali’s founders, Toluwalakin "Tolu" Olowofoyeko (Chief Technology Officer), Ziki Nelson (Chief Executive Officer), and newest member Hamid Ibrahim (Creative Director), currently operates as an independent African comic book, AR animation, and entertainment company. Before now, the company has never created an animated feature or short. So how did this relatively unknown Nigerian and Ugandan creative team land a collaboration deal with the biggest animation studio in the world? Short answer: a little luck, a little patience, a lot of confidence, and an incredible amount of hard work. SYFY WIRE spoke with the team to bring you their incredible story.

Credit: Walt Disney Animation/Kugali

The first iteration of Kugali was actually a podcast started back in 2015 called the Tao of Otaku, a blend of Chinese and Japanese phrases that loosely translates to “the way of the geek.” Every week childhood friends Tolu, Ziki, and Demi Agoro (no longer with the team) would hop on Skype from three different countries (Nigeria, England, and America) and geek out over everything from manga and anime to comics and sci-fi movies. 

Curating content for the show led the guys to look for high-quality comics and animation within Africa. “So we started with comics and manga,” Tolu explains, “then expanded to video games, animation, short films, anything we could find that people were doing in that space.” By the end of 2016, Tolu and Ziki decided to rebrand and expand the podcast to Youtube and a website where they could expose the world to art, comics, gaming, and animation being created all over the continent of Africa. That’s when Kugali, a name derived from the Swahili word “Kujali” (meaning ‘to care’), was born. 

The company grew quickly, and by 2018, the team began to narrow their focus, creating their own comics like Iku, Oro, Mumu, and Juju and other original content. The team not only started publishing their work but also began to develop new talent in the process. When Hamid joined that same year, with his visual effects experience and animation (he worked on Disney’s photoreal reboot of The Lion King), Kugali officially promoted itself as an entertainment and animation company. “I was thinking; they are very talented and hardworking, they have some of the best stories, how come no one can see that?” Hamid says. “I wanted to help fix that problem.”

Their next big move was to launch a crowdfunding campaign for the first Kugali anthology. The project, featuring sci-fi and fantasy stories from creators all over the continent, was a massive success, making well over £20K from Kickstarter alone. The popularity from the success of their campaign gave them the push they needed to expand the company in other areas, including creating a mobile app for their comics-making them more accessible. As well as dive into the AR digital space. (Kugali currently is one of the Offical Lens Creators for Snap).

The campaign’s success was also timely. Fans worldwide were still excited about Marvel’s Black Panther, an American story about the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda. Kugali garnered plenty of press about their success as a small African comic book company that created fantastic fantasy and superhero stories on their own—featuring African superheroes created by African artists and writers from all over the continent. 

The tipping point to their success was a now-famous interview with the BBC, “I do honestly believe that we will go far in this business.” Hamid says confidently, “So, in the interview, I told them I'm pretty sure we are going to be able to kick Disney’s ass in Africa.” Hamid says. “I figured they wouldn’t use it.” he continues. “So of course the headline was literally ‘We're going to kick Disney’s Ass,’” Tolu says. 

Credit: Walt Disney Animation/Kugali

 

It’s not every day that Disney gets challenged by an African imprint in the mainstream press, and Disney Animation Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee noticed. “Jennifer was instantly intrigued when hearing Tolu, Ziki, and Hamid in the [BBC] interview, loved that they threw down the gauntlet, their ambition. We have never collaborated with outside creative partners in this way. Still, right away, the Kugali team understood the hyper-collaborative, iterative nature of how we make projects at Disney Animation and had a vision for a series that felt incredibly exciting to us". Says Jessica Julius, who heads up the Development department at Walt Disney Animation Studios.

However, learning from experience, the team was skeptical at first, “We weren't getting too excited because we didn't know if it would lead to anything. But when they said they wanted to meet, that changed.” Ziki says. After a series of Zoom calls in early 2019, Disney Animation revealed that they were looking to tell stories that appealed to a more diverse and broader audience with original content on a new streaming service coming out called Disney plus. “Having watched our piece on BBC, and looking at our work, they saw us as an ideal company to collaborate with,” Ziki continues.

Iwaju is neither a Disney-sanctioned story nor a project that the Kugali team initially pitched the animation studio. “We worked in tandem with the Disney Animation development team to birth Iwaju,” Ziki explains. “We had already committed to collaborating and then developed the concept together.”

For those curious about what exactly Iwaju’s concept is, like most Disney projects in development, the team is tight-lipped about the actual storyline. At the time of this writing, SYFY WIRE can confirm that Iwaju is an animated fantasy series placed in and around the real-life city of Lagos, Nigeria and is headed for Disney’s streaming service sometime in 2022. “ ”We hid a lot of clues in that first look image shared on Investor Day. People who have lived or have been to Lagos will definitely see what I’m talking about. ” Tolu says. 

The team is also quick to explain that although they understand why many people would like to compare their project to other Disney projects like the recently announced World of Wakanda series, there are significant differences. Wakanda is based on an older, imagined, [Western] concept of Africa, and Marvel found ways to bring that fantasy into the real world.” Ziki agrees. “Whereas with Iwaju, we took a real African city and found ways to color it with our imagination. It's very deeply rooted in contemporary Lagos life”. Ziki says. “I didn't realize until I saw comments on social media in response to the Disney announcement how much people were going to draw parallels to Black Panther or Afrofuturism. To us, it’s not that at all,” Tolu says. “Ziki and I grew up in Lagos. And Ziki wrote the story about aspects of Lagos he's always found very amusing, and he simply wanted to tell this story set in the future,” Tolu explains.

Although the team did have concerns over creative control at first, Hamid is also quick to emphasize that audiences will be getting a real African story and that Disney has not adjusted much of their storyline. “I am very impressed with [Disney Animation’s] openness to letting us tell authentic stories and take the time to learn from us and trust us,” Hamid says. 

“Honestly? I saw some people's tweets about the announcement, and I wanted to fight because so many got it all wrong. People said things like, ‘Oh, Disney's going to mess up the story or steal it.' I was actually getting upset.’” Tolu continues. “Disney Animation has let us be ourselves and let us be true to ourselves.” he says. “ They’ve been incredibly supportive.” Hamid agrees. 

Working in conjunction with Disney animation on Iwaju, the Kugali team's day-to-day roles have shifted somewhat; Hamid serves ads the project's production designer; Ziki wrote the story. Tolu is the consulting producer and creative consultant on the team. The team from Walt Disney Animation is genuinely pleased with the arrangement as well, “We really can’t wait to help bring their story and vision to Disney Plus around the world,” Julius says.

Disney Animation’s working relationship with Kugali is very different from how the corporation has worked with directors in the past. Most of the studios' filmmakers are brought in-house and stay with the company for years, working with other directors until they direct their own projects. However, Kugali is working remotely with a certain amount of autonomy and creative freedom. An arrangement that, if successful, could open the doors for other post-pandemic collaborations around the world.  

 

Sony Didn't Want Tom Holland for Spider-Man, According to the Russo Brothers @ io9

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Danny Elfman Has a Missed Connection with an Ogre in the Video for 'Love in the Time of Covid' @ io9

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Great, Now the PlayStation Network Is Down Too @ io9

This has been a rough week for anyone trying to play games online. Sony’s PlayStation Network began experiencing issues Friday afternoon, and the outage seems to have persisted into the weekend based on the PSN status page. The outage comes just one day after the equivalent service for Sony’s competitor Microsoft,…

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Tomb Raider Showrunner Tasha Huo Is Joining Joey Soloway to Write Red Sonja @ io9

Red Sonja has been a long, long time coming, but with a very welcome addition, it’s time to get the show on the road.

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Saturday's Best Deals: One-Way Remote Starter Kit, Icebreaker Pop Ice Maker, 3-Pack Drawer Organizers, Cuisinart 3-in-1 Kitchen System, XPG 16GB DDR4 RAM, Redragon Gaming Keyboard, and More @ io9

The Boys Season 3 Will Be a Supernatural Reunion @ io9

SPN fam, next season of The Boys is for you.

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Take a (More Comfortable) Seat in Your Car or Office With a $16 Waoaw Cushion @ io9

WAOAW Seat Cushion | $16 | Amazon | Promo code 2587WMN5

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Sci-fi shorts from the Dust channel @ Boing Boing

Recently, I've been enjoying watching YouTube sci-fi shorts on the Dust channel. They're very hit and miss, but that's part of the fun. It's really a treat when you find something that's really good. Here are a few of the ones I've enjoyed recently. — Read the rest

Chop, Blend, and Juice Anything With 50% off a Cuisinart Kitchen Central System @ io9

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run came directly from the mind of late series creator Stephen Hillenburg @ Syfy Wire

In November 2018, the world lost Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants.

Prior to his passing, the marine biologist-turned-animator had an idea for a third feature film starring Bikini Bottom's happy-go-lucky fry cook (voiced by Tom Kenny). That idea eventually became The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, the first film in the series to be completely animated with 3D techniques. The project ended up being written and directed by Tim Hill, a writer who's been with the long-running TV show since it first aired all the way back in 1999.

Speaking with SYFY WIRE during a virtual press junket, Hill states that his ultimate goal for Sponge on the Run, premiering on Paramount+ on March 4, was to "stick to the characters and the show. You see them on a new adventure and kind of expect Steve Hillenburg's original idea about the show. Pretty much make it a really fun road trip with some great cameos and just wacky adventures. [I wanted] to make it as silly as I could. That was the main thing."

The filmmaker also reveals that the story was directly inspired by the Season 4 episode "Have You Seen This Snail?," in which SpongeBob's pet snail, Gary (also voiced by Kenny), runs away from home. "[Stephen] wanted to springboard off of that idea for the movie," Hill explains.

Sponge on the Run takes that concept and broadens the scope. Instead of running away from home, Gary is mysteriously "snail-napped" and taken to "The Lost City of Atlantic City," the Vegas-inspired domain of King Poseidon (What We Do in the Shadows' Matt Berry). The king's right-hand man (or fish, rather) is the Chancellor, voiced by Reggie Watts (SYFY's Wild Life), who, by his own admission, has kind of been living under a SpongeBob-less rock for the past two decades — just like Patrick Star!

"The funny thing is I knew of SpongeBob and all my friends loved [it]," he says. "In the '90s, I didn't have TV, so I only got SpongeBob in little slices and doses [from] people saying lines and stuff like that."

Watts describes his time working on Sponge on the Run as his chance to undergo "trial by fire [and become involved in the universe.

"I was really excited because many of my friends, when I told them I was doing it, they were freaking out," he continues. "It was great — my whole thing was I just wanted to find a character voice that worked for the character and make sure that grooved with the scenes. Of course, knowing that Matt Berry was [involved], I'm a huge Matt Berry fan, so I wanted to make it extra good for everybody."

Credit:  Paramount Animation ©2021 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

To prepare for his dive into the ocean, Watts started with the very first episode ("Help Wanted") and then jumped through the various seasons in order to give himself a crash course in SpongeBob SquarePants.

"I just went through years [and] skipped ahead and saw how it was 4:3 aspect ratio and then it got wider. That was really, really fun," he continues. "It was cool to understand that this is a show that really speaks to all ages and it's so silly and so ridiculous and irreverent. It was really nice to discover it at my age. It took me [this long to go] 'Oh, this is what this is? Oh, this is awesome!'"

To retrieve Gary, SpongeBob and Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke) team up for another epic road trip that takes them to Atlantic City. They meet some strange characters along the way, including a wise spirit guide named "Sage" — portrayed by Keanu Reeves' head in the middle of a desert tumbleweed.

"He's great. He's super focused and really professional," Hill says of the John Wick star. "He's a really nice guy, he was a joy to work with, actually — probably one of the best experiences I've had. He knew his lines, he wanted to do it his way, but really right and we agreed on a lot, so it worked out really well. But he was really focused, which I was very happy with."

Credit: Paramount+/Nickelodeon

After so many years of seeing SpongeBob as a mainstay of the 2D environment, Kenny wasn't sure if the iconic character would translate well into the realm of CG. It was a scary thought; almost as scary as a live-action pencil sinking into the ocean and spawning a host of evil illustrations. ME HOY MINOY!

"To be honest, you're never really sure how that's gonna work. To me, SpongeBob is so thoroughly 2D in my brain," the veteran voice actor tells us. "They experimented with that [CG animation] in the prior movie, Sponge out of Water, where they did that sequence where Sponge and the gang came up out of the water into the live-action world. That was Steve Hillenburg and the guys dipping their toe into the possibility of a 3D/CG SpongeBob. Like, 'Could that work and could you get that same squash and stretch animation bounce that you get in traditional animation?' Because most CG doesn't have that and they figured out a way to do it. Really, it's just marrying the new technology with the determinedly old-school traditionalist sense that the show has always had since the beginning."

The film also features the voice talents of Clancy Brown ("Mr. Krabs"), Rodger Bumpass ("Squidward"), Carolyn Lawrence ("Sandy"), Mr. Lawrence ("Plankton"), and Awkwafina ("Otto"). The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run arrives on Paramount+ (aka CBS All Access) on Friday, March 4. Nickelodeon's prequel series, Kamp Koral, debuts the same day.


Red Sonja movie adaptation forging ahead with Tomb Raider & Witcher writer @ Syfy Wire

Can you believe the last time we saw Red Sonja in live action on the big screen was 1985, when Brigitte Nielsen took on the titular role opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger's Conan-esque High Lord Kalidor? While we've been hearing rumors for the better part of a decade now, the last we heard anything official about a new movie adaptation of Red Sonja was way back in June 2019, when Joey Soloway (Transparent) came on board as writer and director after Bryan Singer left the project.

Work on the adaptation of the sword and sorcery comic book has been quiet since, but The Hollywood Reporter broke news today that the project is still moving forward, and now has a new writer to boot: The Witcher: Blood Origin writer and Tomb Raider anime showrunner, Tasha Huo.

The Red Sonja adaptation — which unsurprisingly focuses on Red Sonja, the legendary red-haired warrior who has been slaying monsters in the comics (starting at Marvel, most recently at Dynamite) since the '70s — has been in the works for years at production company Millennium Films. After a series of delays, however, the project is finally moving ahead, with casting on the film set to begin immediately.

"I have loved Red Sonja forever and I feel so honored to help shepherd her story and start this cinematic journey,” Soloway told THR. “There could not be a greater moment in our world for Red Sonja's ways of wielding power and her connection with nature and our planet. She is an ancient heroine with an epic calling, and translating that to the screen is a dream come true for me as a filmmaker. I can't wait to collaborate with Tasha on this vision."

No news yet on what studio will pick up the project, though Millennium is currently shopping the movie around. "We’re very excited to be bringing Red Sonja to the market and the world,” Millennium co-president Jonathan Younger said. “This has been a long time coming. Having Joey Soloway at the helm of this feminist icon franchise is the perfect recipe for a magical adventure, which is exactly what the world needs today."


Pokémon celebrates 25 years with two remakes, a new Legends game & some love for the Sinnoh region @ Syfy Wire

This weekend marks the 25th anniversary of Nintendo's iconic Pokémon franchise, and to celebrate, The Pokémon Company just announced a trio of new titles for the Nintendo Switch, which will release in the coming months. Fans of the fourth generation of Pokémon and its Sinnoh region got to eat good, thanks to today's Pokémon Presents video

As is the case with previous Pokémon titles, the first two are a package deal. Pokémon Shining Pearl and Brilliant Diamond are remakes of the Diamond/Pearl games that released in 2006 for Japan, and 2007 everywhere else.

Set in the Sinnoh region and part of the fourth generation of Pokémon games, the remakes will come with "player friendly conveniences" and update the game's art style while preserving its original towns and routes. Based partially on Hokkaido in Japan, Sinnoh is considered one of the better regions in the franchise, thanks in part to its visual design and music.

The original starter Pokémon -- Turtwig, Chimchar, and Piplup -- will return as well. As for the Legendary Pokémon, Dialga will serve as Brilliant Diamond's, while Palkia will serve as Shining Pearl's. 

Pokémon Shining Pearl and Brilliant Diamond are expected to release worldwide for the Nintendo Switch later this year. 

Beyond the pair of remakes, Nintendo provided a glimpse at a brand new entry in the series. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is set in the Sinnoh region during its early days long before Diamond/Pearl. Unlike previous entries in the series, Legends looks different, as you can see in the preview below. 

Beyond the expansive environment and open world, the trainers in the trailer employ some stealth to avoid alerting Pokémon, and throw Pokeballs in the open world to catch beasts. And the starter three Pokémon you begin every game with aren't even from Sinnoh in this trailer: Cyndaquil hails from Johto, Oshawott is from Unova, and Rowlet from Alola. It's all in the aim of filling out the region's first ever Pokedex, and trainers will eventually come across the Legendary Arceus, hence its inclusion in the title.  

Pokémon Legends: Arceus will release for the Nintendo Switch in early 2022. 


Oh No, There Are Too Many Babies in This Week's Toy News @ io9

Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular round up of all things good and plastic. This week: Babies! So many babies! Baby Yoda is here, laser babies are here, and, well, what more could you want? Check it out!

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Tom Holland talks Uncharted 'mistake' & meeting RDJ (after confusing him with stunt double) @ Syfy Wire

Tom Holland is everywhere right now. Not only is the MCU’s Peter Parker finishing up production of Spider-Man: No Way Home in Atlanta, he’s also doing the interview circuit to promote his latest movie, Cherry, and has another movie, Chaos Walking, coming out on Mar. 5.  

One of his recent, longer interviews on said circuit was with British GQ. During that conversation, the actor opened up about his performances, including acting choices he made while shooting Uncharted that he’s not particularly proud of.  

“As soon as you start worrying about ‘Do I look good in this shot?’ acting becomes something other than playing a character,” Holland told GQ while talking about playing Nathan Drake in the movie adaptation of the popular video game. “I think there are elements of my performance in Uncharted where I kind of fell under that spell of being ‘I want to look good now. I want this to be my cool moment’…at times, it was less about land a mark and go through this scene and more about land a mark, stand like this and see my bulging biceps...it was a mistake and is something that I will probably never do again.”

Holland admitted he hasn’t seen the final cut of Uncharted, so he has no idea of whether he succeeded in conveying his version of Nathan Drake as a tough, stoic guy. The performance he’s best known for, however, is the opposite of a dark, brooding, and grizzled character. That role, of course, his Holland’s breakout performance playing the MCU’s Peter Parker (also known as Spider-Man).

It turns out that his audition for that iconic role was a memorable one, not least of all because he finally got to meet Robert Downey Jr. “I saw Downey standing there in the casting room,” Holland said, recalling his Spider-Man audition. “I went over. I introduced myself. But I remember thinking, ‘That’s a bit odd. He doesn’t look like I’d imagined him or remembered.’ Still, I shook his hand, telling him, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you,’ saying how excited I was at the opportunity, how much it means to me...then a door opens and in walks the actual Robert Downey Jr. I’d been chatting up his stunt double the entire time.”

Despite the mix up, RDJ and Holland ended up becoming friends, and the older actor has also given Holland acting advice he follows to this day, specifically to let his body take over and to not get too much into his head when performing. “I was doing a new Spider-Man scene just the other day and I had to eat a bowl of cereal. And I just couldn’t eat a bowl of cereal like a normal person – I was too in my head,” Holland shared. “And the director, Jon [Watts], goes, ‘What are you doing?’ And I was like, ‘Sorry, I’m leading with my head and I need to lead with my body.’ So it was good advice. And I think that’s the piece of advice that got me the Spider-Man job ultimately.”

Uncharted is currently scheduled to premiere Feb. 11, 2022, while Spider-Man: No Way Home is expected to come out in theaters on Dec. 17, 2021.


Static, Hardware, Icon and Rocket Get New Creative Teams for Milestone Returns Series @ io9

As promised, DC Comics revealed today Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition’s writers, artists, and covers of the upcoming Static, Hardware, and Icon and Rocket series, as well as a couple of interior pages for each. To put it bluntly, the Dakotaverse is looking completely awesome.

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Is WandaVision’s Paul Bettany Teasing What We Think He’s Teasing? @ io9

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Cobra Kai kicks off production on S4, expands its dojo with new cast members @ Syfy Wire

Looks like the dojos of Cobra Kai are open for business once more — and what's more, they're adding to their numbers. Which makes sense, they're gonna need to beef up the numbers to take on Kreese.

Netflix announced production on the next season of the popular streaming series is finally underway, tweeting an image (below) of the top page of the script for Episode 1 of Season 4, which is titled "Let's Begin" along with the words, "You ready? Lets begin! Season 4 of Cobra Kai is officially underway!" 

The episode is written by co-creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg.

But that's not the only news on the horizon for fans as it turns out the series will be adding to its numbers. Actors Peyton List (who plays Tory Nichols) and Vanessa Rubio (who plays Miguel's mother Carmen Diaz) have been promoted to series regulars for the upcoming fourth season, with both of them returning in apparently larger roles this time around.

Also joining the series as recurring characters will be Dallas Dupree Young and Oona O'Brien. Variety reports that Young will play Kenny, a new kid who turns to karate as a form of self-defense against the bullies in his school; and O'Brien will step into the role of Devon, a potential new karate student who is relentlessly competitive and a quick study, as well as being equally quick-tempered when provoked. 

Cobra Kai is set 34 years after the events of the 1984 classic The Karate Kid, and follows the story of both Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny, his karate rival and former bully, as they go on to both start rival dojos where they teach teenage practitioners their respective styles. Daniel's is named after his iconic master, Mr. Miyagi, himself, while Johnny brings back the form he practiced: the titular Cobra Kai. And much like both men, who still have a rivalry that continues to this day, their students also view each other as competition. 

The new season finds Daniel and Johnny in an uneasy alliance, working together to take down Cobra Kai, after the dojo falls under new (old?) management and turns rogue.

No news yet on when Season 4 of Cobra Kai will premiere, but Season 3 is currently streaming, and the video game is also available to play on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.


 

Great Minds Think Alike at the Friday Gif Party @ io9

You’re ready for the weekend. We’re ready for the weekend. We are of like minds that the weekend needs to start ASAP. So let’s do this...with gifs.

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'Terminator' will be back as anime series at Netflix, from 'The Batman' screenwriter @ Syfy Wire

Come with Netflix if you want to live! The Terminator IP may be done on the big screen for awhile, but much like a deadly android from the far-flung future, the series is pretty much un-killable. Case in point: Netflix confirmed Friday afternoon that a Terminator anime is coming to Netflix by way of Mattson Tomlin, a screenwriter known for Project Power and Matt Reeves' The Batman.

Tomlin is ready to serve as executive producer and showrunner of the adaptation, which will be co-produced by Skydance (current owner of the franchise rights) and Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045). The latter party has been in business with Netflix since 2018. Specific plot details for the new Terminator project have yet to be sent back in time, but the thought of pairing of Japanese-style animation techniques with the action and violence of the movies sounds like a match made in Skynet heaven.

“Anyone who knows my writing knows I believe in taking big swings and going for the heart,” the writer said in a statement. “I'm honored that Netflix and Skydance have given me the opportunity to approach Terminator in a way that breaks conventions, subverts expectations and has real guts."

Terminator is one of the most iconic sci-fi stories ever created — and has only grown more relevant to our world over time. The new animated series will explore this universe in a way that has never been done before," added John Derderian, Netflix’s VP of Japan & Anime. "We can’t wait for fans to experience this amazing new chapter in the epic battle between machines and humans."

James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd kicked off the iconic and long-running property back in 1984. The story of a robot assassin sent to the past in an effort to murder the one threat to the machine uprising was an overnight success. The Terminator and its direct sequel, Terminator 2: Judgement Day (released in 1991), are both considered cinematic masterpieces. Unfortunately, none of the subsequent entries (save for the acclaimed, short-lived Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show) have been able to reach the same heights.

The most recent big screen installment, Terminator: Dark Fate, attempted a soft reboot with James Cameron working as an executive producer. Directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool), the 2019 release was positively received, but ended up being a box office disappointment. Despite so many critical and financial flops, the combined box office draw of all six features is just a hair over $2 billion. Still, the Terminator brand isn't what it once was, and could probably use a fresh start in a brand-new medium. An anime interpretation of the eternal battle of machines vs. humanity seems like just the thing to revamp the nearly 40-year-old genre vintage.

"I asked my long-time friend and colleague Mamoru Oshii what he thought about the idea of turning the Terminator into an animated series,” said Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, president and CEO of Production I.G. “His response was ‘Ishikawa, are you out of your mind?’ At that instant, I was confident we should get onboard. As huge fans, our team at Production I.G is putting their heart and souls into creating this series. We hope fans will enjoy it!”

Netflix's ever-growing library of anime titles includes such recognizable names as Pacific Rim, Altered CarbonTomb Raider, and Kong: Skull Island.


Declassifying the Mystery of How Special Agent Dana Scully Looked So Good in Those Giant Suits @ io9

The X-Files premiered in 1993, gifting America with our first glimpse of a 25-year-old Gillian Anderson playing Special Agent Dana Scully, who was somehow both a medical doctor and an FBI agent at an age just five years older than the fictional Dr. Dougie Howser, boy genius, would have been when his show was canceled…

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Sarah Michelle Gellar reportedly had ‘severed’ working relationship with Whedon since early in Buffy’s run @ Syfy Wire

From Firefly to Buffy to Marvel to DC, fans of Joss Whedon’s generation-spanning body of film and TV work have found it hard, in recent months, to dodge media reports of the prolific creator/director’s alleged on-set indiscretions. Beginning with the Whedon-created Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its TV spinoff Angel in the 1990s, and threading all the way through to Warner Bros.’ Justice League in 2017, actors both male and female have issued a string of public criticisms highlighting their anecdotal accounts of Whedon’s alleged improprieties.

While neither Whedon nor his management have so far commented on the allegations made against him, a new report at Variety takes aim at examining the Whedon controversy from the point of view of several actors and crew members who’ve worked with him on projects both recent and farther in the past. The resulting report, which again doesn’t cite Whedon as a direct source, suggests a “pattern of inappropriate, imperious and disparaging behavior toward those who worked for him,” including a reported rift with Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar that originates from the iconic series’ earliest small-screen days.

Gellar was among 40 Whedon-acquainted actors and crew members who declined to directly comment for Variety’s report. But a pair of sources “familiar with the [Buffy] production say that fairly early into the show’s run, Gellar had a severed relationship with Whedon, to the extent that she did not want his name spoken around her.”

Credit: Brian Ach/Getty Images for MTV via Getty Images

Buffy premiered at the now-defunct The WB network all the way back in 1997 — more than 20 years before Cyborg actor Ray Fisher would come forward, in the summer of 2020, with scathing condemnations of what Fisher perceived as Whedon’s “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” treatment of actors on the set of Justice League. Those remarks would eventually yield support for Fisher from fellow Justice League actors, with Jason Momoa lending the most vocal support. But they also preceded additional accusations against Whedon from actors he’d worked with back in the Buffy and Angel days — including recent claims of impropriety from Charisma Carpenter (Cordelia Chase on both series), as well as from Michelle Trachtenberg (Buffy’s Dawn Summers).

Trachtenberg recently posted to Instagram a claim that “There was a rule” on the Buffy set that Whedon was “not allowed in a room alone with Michelle [Trachtenberg] again.” And Carpenter went public earlier this month with a pair of  Twitter posts claiming that Whedon “abused his power on numerous occasions while working together on the sets of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.” Carpenter accused Whedon of compelling actors to compete for his attention, and of making disparaging remarks about her own pregnancy at the time — including how it might adversely affect her future on the series.

”The person who worked closely with Carpenter while she starred on Buffy and Angel recalls the actor frequently describing Whedon as being ‘mean-spirited’ and ‘verbally abusive’ toward her,” reports Variety, “making it obvious to her that he had favorites — and she was not one of them. ‘That was his game,’” the source reportedly told the outlet.

Specifics surrounding any alleged Whedon-Gellar interactions that might have led to their reported Buffy fracture aren’t mentioned in Variety’s report, though Gellar’s recent social media remarks suggest that she’s sympathetic toward other actors and their Whedon-focused complaints. “While I am proud to have my name associated with Buffy Summers, I don’t want to be forever associated with the name Joss Whedon,” Gellar recently said in an Instagram post, reacting to Carpenter’s accusations.

Sources for Variety’s report suggested that Buffy’s early small-budget filming environment, far removed from daily studio oversight and populated by a lot of relatively inexperienced young actors, may have provided the kind of atmosphere that helped foster an unprofessionally cliquish, “high school” social dynamic among its talented cast and creative lead.

Reportedly operating “much like an indie film,” the Buffy set allegedly functioned “like high school, with Whedon making everyone aware of who was in and who was out,” according to Variety. The same sources, all speaking anonymously, described the on-set culture of both Buffy and Angel as “a cult of personality” that centered around Whedon: “Those on the inside of Whedon’s circle basked in his attention, praise and friendship; those on the outside got the opposite: scorn, derision and callousness,” the report states.

Whedon’s creative resume is the stuff of movie and TV legend, encompassing perennially-revered sci-fi small-screen treasures like Firefly, Buffy, and Angel. On the big screen, Whedon helped build Marvel’s MCU into a box office juggernaut as the director of The Avengers (2012) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), before stepping into a late directing role on Warner Bros.’ Justice League after director Zack Snyder left the project due to a family tragedy.

Most recently, Whedon boarded and subsequently left The Nevers, a supernatural sci-fi drama on which Whedon and HBO were collaborating. Announced in 2018, The Nevers originally put Whedon’s creative talents front and center as writer, director, executive producer, and showrunner. In November of last year, however, HBO revealed that Whedon had departed the project. The Nevers is still on track to debut on April 11 debut at HBO, with Philippa Goslett replacing Whedon as showrunner.

Amid the still-brewing controversy surrounding other actors’ allegations against Whedon, HBO Chief Content Office Casey Bloys told The Wrap earlier this month that the network had received “no complaints or no reports of inappropriate behavior” from Whedon during his truncated creative stint with The Nevers.

 

Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away Is Heading to the Other Kind of Theaters @ io9

The Academy Award-winning movie Spirited Away is being spirited to the stage. A theatrical production of the film is coming next year, written and directed by John Caird, the Honorary Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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The 10 Best Deals of February 26, 2021 @ io9

Comic Creators Denys Cowan, L.L. McKinney, and Kwanza Osajyefo on What the Future Holds for the Rise of the Black Superhero @ io9

Editor’s Note: The Rise of the Black Superhero is a three-part series breaking down the past, present and future of Black superheroes across comics, film, and tv. This is part 3. Read part 1 and part 2.

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Milestone Comics is back! But where's the Blood Syndicate series? @ Syfy Wire

The Dakotaverse is officially back!

The brand-new digital release of Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0 marks the return of the legendary lineup of characters created by Milestone Comics back in the early '90s. Icon, Rocket, Hardware, and, of course, Static all make their return in this story, which retells and updates the "Big Bang" event that gave rise to nearly all of the superpowered beings in Dakota, the fictional city that is the heartbeat of Earth-M.

**Spoiler Alert! Details of the brand new digital-first comic, Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0 are discussed below.**

Credit: DC Comics; Art: Denys Cowan/Chris Sotomayor

The issue, written by Reginald Hudlin with art by Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and others, will be available in print format on May 25, but digital is where the Milestone renaissance is taking shape. Mini-series starring Static, Icon and Rocket, and Hardware will debut exclusively as digital comics beginning in April. What was interesting about the press release DC Comics put out was what it didn't say: Namely, where the heck is the most daring and in many ways, the most relevant book in the Milestone catalog? Where is Blood Syndicate?

To be fair, the superhuman gang did show up in Infinite Editions #0, and the story suggests future appearances, perhaps in the big Milestone event DC teased in its press release. That's all good news, but I'm greedy and want more. Because while the return of Milestone and all its memorable characters is long overdue, Blood Syndicate seems almost a necessity at this point in time. With diversity and inclusiveness at the center of many of our national conversations, a comic that was well ahead of the curve on both counts deserves a chance to find its audience again.

Blood Syndicate, co-created by Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, and Ivan Velez, Jr., was simply unlike any comic book of its time when it debuted in 1993. As comics journalist Jermaine McLaughlin told me in an interview for our two-part video retrospective on Milestone, "The [Black] characters that existed at Marvel and DC were monoliths. They had to stand for everything the Black experience [encapsulated]. Milestone gave you a nice, broad view of the entire Black experience."

While each Milestone book provided different viewpoints, through the lens of superhero adventures, of what life for African Americans was like in America, Blood Syndicate was the rawest. It was a book about a gang made up of members from local street gangs who found themselves with extraordinary powers after being hit with chemicals during a gang war. They sought justice in a brutal, unrelenting fashion. They robbed crack houses to fund their operations, killing the dealers and the addicts. To say Blood Syndicate resided in a moral grey area would be an astounding understatement. The series had a high body count, including many mainstay characters, and raised an equal amount of questions about society and how it treats people of different colors and backgrounds. It also looked at teenage alienation in ways many comics never approached.

The new version of the event that triggers the powers onslaught in Dakota changes the setting from a gang war to a Black Lives Matter protest. Panels depicting the police in the fictional city firing off what they believe is tear gas at peaceful protesters will offer an uncomfortable reminder of the BLM protests in the summer of 2020, when police and activists clashed at protests across the country. Those types of moments are exactly the types of situations Blood Syndicate was created to address within the parameters of its comic book setting, according to artist ChrisCross. "Dwayne and the others wanted to put out stories that weren't out there," he said during our Milestone retrospective. "They wanted you to see what it was like when we [Black creators] do stories."

The book had a huge cast of regular characters, which simultaneously made ChrisCross' job more difficult and provided the opportunity to present a group that reflected the diversity of the real world. "They were Black, white, Latino, gay, straight," according to The Blerd Gurl herself and my SYFY WIRE compadre, Karama Horne. "There was a trans character, and they were even saving the lives of people who hated them."

Remember, this was in the mid-1990s, when comics were hyper-masculine with absurdly oversized guns and even bigger biceps. Marvel had not yet revealed that Northstar was gay, and DC basically only had the minor character Extrano as its gay representative. And here was a comic series, distributed by one of the Big Two publishers, with gay and transgender characters. What made it even more effective was that it made them complicated, well-rounded characters.

In Issue #10 of the original comic, Fade discovers that Masquerade is transgender. He assures Masquerade that he would keep his secret. However, in the next issue, instead of expressing gratitude, Masquerade reveals he knows Fade's secret: He's gay. That moment of vulnerability, replaced by desperate blackmail, provided a much different approach to the situation than many readers likely expected. But it underscored that beneath the outlandish costumes (Milestone had some great costume designs!) and unique powers, these characters were as flawed, as human, as anyone.

With LGBTQ rights front and center in political debates in Washington, D.C., as well as the ongoing conversations about racial equality, there is arguably no book in the Milestone catalog as well-equipped to tackle those issues as Blood Syndicate. Fingers crossed that the "explosive Milestone event" teased by DC in its press blasts indicates an event that brings the Syndicate back into the Dakota mix and into the pages, digital or otherwise, of a new ongoing series. In this day and age of corporate sensitivity, that may be asking a lot. But we're asking anyway!

In the meantime, DC Comics is making the first issue of the original series available on its DC Universe Infinite subscription service beginning in March. I hope that leads to the eventual release of the entire run, and hopefully a trade paperback printing. Fans deserve a chance to discover the original series. And we deserve another look at one of the great concepts in recent comics history.

 


Find me on Twitter/Instagram and tell me about them. I like reading good comics and helping boost their profile.

Check out our other Behind the Panel content: You can catch video clips featuring my in-depth interviews with amazing comic book creators, and our audio documentary series 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.

WandaVision Became a Nightmarish Web of Cathartic Reruns @ io9

WandaVision’s first season transformed Marvel’s Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen). She’s been a newlywed, a mother, and something far more fascinating and complex than all of her other new identities combined. It’s all been in service of its larger overarching story about the Avengers’ least understood hero who will…

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Carnage breaks loose from Marvel canon in first look at 'Black, White & Blood' miniseries @ Syfy Wire

Hot on the heels of Marvel's Wolverine: Black, White & Blood miniseries this past August, one of Spider-Man's most terrifying villains will be inked and colored in the same limited palette with Carnage: Black, White & Blood — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive preview of the premiere issue.

The psychotic serial killer known as Cletus Kasady became Carnage after fusing with the alien symbiote Venom during a prison riot, and was first introduced in 1992's The Amazing Spider-Man #359 by creators David Michelinie and Mark Bagley. This summer the character will be given a starring role in the Venom feature film sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, so this new Carnage limited series should serve as a potent primer for the uninitiated.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Writers Al Ewing (Immortal Hulk), Benjamin Percy (X-ForceWolverine), and Tini Howard (ExcaliburX of Swords) join artists Sara Pichelli (Fantastic FourSpider-Men II), John McCrea (Hitman), and Ken Lashley (X-Men Gold) in wrangling Cletus Kasady and his insane alien symbiote in a four-issue release that hits comic shops beginning Mar. 24.

"This story combines two things I have a deep fondness for - pick-your-own-path stories, and the art of John McCrea!," Ewing tells SYFY WIRE. "It's always great to get another opportunity to work with John, and the gruesomely unfettered nature of Carnage means that we both get to cut loose a little and bring you a Carnage tale unlike any you'll have read before... because YOU are Carnage!"

Credit: Marvel Comics

Writer Benjamin Percy was thrilled that Marvel asked him to join this Carnage project and he was instantly lured by the liberty of writing out of continuity.

“I'd jump at any chance to write Carnage -- one of the greatest comic book villains -- but this Black, White, and Blood collection was especially (and wickedly) fun, because there were no restrictions on the timeline or continuity: I could imagine him anywhere," Percy tells SYFY WIRE. "To have that kind of freedom was a poisonous gift, and my mind immediately went to the western frontier. Its lawlessness seemed a perfect stage, and the nightmare vision of Carnage crystallized in my mind as an outlaw more notorious even than Jesse James or Billy the Kid. I was very lucky to be partnered with the brilliant Sara Pichelli whose work I've admired for a long time.”

Credit: Marvel Comics

Now enjoy our exclusive five-page peek at Marvel's Carnage: Black, White & Blood #1 in the full gallery below.

Pacific Rim: The Black Reveals Its Villain, and It's Not a Kaiju @ io9

Man, the young stars of Netflix’s upcoming Pacific Rim anime spin-off The Black just can’t catch a break. They get abandoned by their parents for years in an extremely post-apocalyptic Australia filled with giant, human-hating monsters, and now they have to deal with this jerk?

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The Best Projectors, According To Our Readers @ io9

Our readers know what’s up. Whenever we ask a question like “What’s the best projector?”, we know we’ll always get a good mix of thoughtful responses and great product recommendations. As expected, we received both this time around, making for a well-rounded and perfect overview of projector life. The most interesting…

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Netflix's Shadow and Bone Trailer Is the Miracle We Need @ io9

The Grishaverse is alive and alight in the new trailer for Shadow and Bone. Based on Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows books, Shadow and Bone follows orphan and mapmaker Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li, who will also appear in Edgar Wright’s upcoming Last Night in Soho) as she discovers the…

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The Week in Gaming: FFVII gets Yuffie, Square Enix gets busy & takeaways from Sony’s State of Play @ Syfy Wire

Welcome to The Week in Gaming, the place where we pause each week to take a look at the video game news beats both big and small that you might be missing — while also taking a peek around the corner at what's ahead. Check in each Friday for news (and occasionally even views) on everything from sprawling RPGs to Metroidvania platformers to the latest in VR and free-to-play. We'll even throw in a good old-fashioned board game every now and then!

These are super-busy times for Square Enix. The Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts RPG powerhouse is diving headlong into the first half of 2021 with a stacked slate of projects as both developer and publisher; projects that’ll evolve its hit revival of Final Fantasy VII, massively expand its critically-acclaimed Final Fantasy XIV MMORPG, add an ace archer to Marvel’s Avengers, land on a new sci-fi planet with Outriders, and introduce the origins of the breakout NieR RPG franchise to a current-gen gaming audience.

FINAL FANTASY on YouTube

This week’s Sony State of Play showcase saved its biggest gaming surprise for last, revealing a new between-the-games chapter for Final Fantasy VII Remake that brings a certain shuriken-wielding Wutai warrior out of the past and into Midgar’s steampunk spotlight. Fan favorite character Yuffie Kisaragi, understandably a no-show in Remake’s Midgar-centric PS4 installment last year, is getting a story all to herself as the game makes its PS5 debut under the tweaked title of Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade.

Intergrade is basically Square Enix’s answer to all the fans who’ve been asking how Remake would make its inevitable leap onto Sony’s new-gen hardware, bringing a slew of new quality-of-life enhancements to PS5 players. Those include boosted 4K graphics, a photo mode, optimized loading times, haptic DualSense controller features, and the ability to switch between a "graphics mode" that prioritizes 4K high-res graphics; and a "performance mode" that favors smoothed-out 60 FPS action.

FINAL FANTASY on YouTube

As for Yuffie, her new content — “a brand-new episode featuring Yuffie as the main character” — comes as part of the game’s Intergrade PS5 version, and will only be available to PS5 players as a piece of story DLC — either by buying Intergrade all at once, or as a standalone purchase. While it’s not the awaited announcement of the next full-scale Remake installment fans are still waiting for, the DLC serves as a way to inch Yuffie a step closer to joining Cloud Strife’s growing player party, and introduces new character Sonon Kusakabe, who’ll complement Yuffie’s melee moves as a second party member. The new bite-sized chapter will follow our not-so-subtle ninja (just check out the trailer) as she “infiltrates the shadowy Shinra Corporation to steal a powerful materia and restore glory to her homeland,” as Square Enix teases.

In a welcome gesture, anyone who already owns a PS4 copy of Final Fantasy VII Remake can upgrade to the PS5 version for free — though players will still have to pay to snag Yuffie’s new DLC story. Also welcome is Square Enix’s decision to announce all this new FFVII awesomeness without making us guess at when it’s coming: both the Intergrade PS5 version and the new Yuffie story will be ready to play on the PlayStation 5 on June 10.

State of Play highlights

Believe it or not, there’s tons more Square Enix stuff (including a pair of new FF-themed mobile games) to talk about, and we’ll definitely get back to it in just a bit. But this week’s Sony State of Play showcase broke through a recent dearth of PS5 gaming updates with a fresh handful of trailers for upcoming games both new and previously announced, and it’s time to hit those highlights as well.

While Sony didn’t break the internet with the next big God of War or Elden Ring update that a lot of fans are still clamoring for, State of Play did give us a nice roadmap for PlayStation’s early 2021 plans…starting with a deeper look at the new indie IP that’s been turning heads ever since it was first revealed at last summer’s big PS5 gaming showcase.

Kena: Bridge of Spirits

PlayStation on YouTube

Ember Lab may be a small studio, but every look they’ve shared so far at Kena: Bridge of Spirits has reinforced their Zelda-inspired passion for action-adventure games. State of Play finally introduced some new story elements and, for the first time, gave the upcoming game’s plucky main character a voice. But more importantly, it also gave the PlayStation console exclusive a release date. 

Bridge of Spirits will debut on Aug. 24, launching Kena on a combat-laced salvation quest for her village, while marshaling an adorable, multitasking army of lil’ dark forest spirits called the Rot. The new trailer introduces human characters not previously seen, and serves up a little more backstory as a mysterious old quest-giver tasks Kena with earning her way to the top of a sacred mountain shrine. 

In addition to her ranged magic bow-and-arrow attacks, we also got new peeks at how Kena can conjure her glowing blue weapon to take on baddies in other ways, including area-of-effect ground pounds, close-quarters melee attacks, and even magic force fields that wrap her in a protective ball of energy. Pre-orders for Kena have at last gone live ahead of the game's summer release for PS5, PS4, and PC (via the Epic Games store).

Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach

PlayStation on YouTube

Five Nights at Freddy’s dispensed long ago with the idea that funhouse animatronics can’t be hilariously horrifying. State of Play’s new gameplay trailer for Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach sizes up that wackiness factor by an order of magnitude, breaking the mayhem out of the neighborhood kids’ pizzeria and into something way bigger — something, in fact, that resembles a scaled-up, audio-animatronic indoor amusement park.

“Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza is no longer limited to small pizzerias, as they have now opened the Mega Pizza Plex,” teases developer Steel Wool Studios, showcasing a sprawling new 3D theme park packed at every dark turn with ‘bots and beastly mascots gone haywire. The new mall-like setting serves up a dizzying diversity of creepshow environments, from a ball pit to a kid’s playground to a mini-golf course stalked by robotic terrors that won’t take “no” for an answer. We still don’t have a firm release date, but hapless kid hero Gregory gets his chance at escape sometime soon: Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach breaks out sometime this year for PS5, PS4, and PC.

Sifu

PlayStation on YouTube

Developer Sloclap showed up at State of Play to announce Sifu, its third-person fighting game followup to indie hit Absolver, with a trippy new spin on dying and respawning: Every time your Kung fu skills fatally fail you, you’re reborn just a little bit older. Inspired by old-school fighting films, Sifu tells the single-player story of a young Kung fu student on the path for vengeance, after his family was murdered 8 years ago by “a squad of mysterious assassins.” Even with years of training, it’ll take a magic pendant to get you back in the fight every time you die…but rapid onset aging is the price you’ll pay for the convenience of a supernatural revival.

Framed against a backdrop of classic martial arts movie environments including a grungy dojo, a tranquil garden, and crowded urban indoor scenes where no one blinks at a bar fight, Sifu kicks its way onto PS5, PS4, and PC sometime later this year.

Solar Ash

PlayStation on YouTube

The makers of 2D action-RPG hit Hyper Light Drifter are bringing their purple-tinged color palette into full 3D with Solar Ash, an action platformer first announced back in 2019. Developer Heart Machine used its State of Play spotlight to show off their first look at Solar Ash’s buttery-smooth gameplay action, which features protagonist Rei — a “Voidrunner” tasked with saving her sci-fi home planet from “a massive black hole that swallows entire worlds.” 

The trippy, cel-shaded animation style covers a huge 3D world that’ll take Rei to “sunken cities, vast water shelves, and dangerous lava zones” as she skips across ashen clouds to combine “speed, fluidity, and movement” for a platforming quest that keeps the focus on fast-paced combat. There’s no firm release date, but Heart Machine is planning to scatter Solar Ash across the PS5, PS4, and PC platforms sometime this year. 

Deathloop

PlayStation on YouTube

We’ve already gotten a few good glimpses at Deathloop and we already know when it’s coming, so at this point any new look at the game from Bethesda’s Arkane studios (the same team behind the Dishonored franchise) is just icing on the time-trapped cake. The game’s new State of Play trailer serves up a moody look at the debauched island of Blackreef, where the inhabitants are “living out an endless party” while protagonist-assassin Colt tries to break through his déjà vu amnesia and take out his assigned targets.

The new clip feels like a classic James Bond movie intro infused with a lowbrow desert wastrel vibe, and offers some new glimpses at Colt’s FPS weapons arsenal while shining the spotlight on a (presumed) bad guy named “Ramblin’” Frank Spicer. By now, Arkane has given players a pretty full picture of what to expect when Deathloop circles its upcoming arrival as a PS5 exclusive — all that’s left is to circle the calendar for the game’s May 21 release date.

Returnal

PlayStation on YouTube

Just like Deathloop, Returnal has given us some previous close looks at how developer Housemarque is planning to make its PS5 debut. For this week’s State of Play outing, the studio put the focus on Returnal’s narrative and gameplay, showcasing how protagonist Celine crash-lands on an alien planet and must track down breadcrumb clues to solve the mystery of how to escape. Stuck with “corroded” memories and a roguelike environment that changes every time she respawns, Celine must use her arsenal of ranged beam attacks to stave off alien tentacles and decipher cryptic voice logs that drop clues about her past — and may even hold the keys to her future. 

Returnal arrives as a PS5 exclusive on April 30.


Spare parts (the Square Enix edition)

Yuffie's PS5 debut only scratches the surface of all the goodies Square Enix is planning to unload in the weeks and months to come, both inside and outside the Final Fantasy gaming-verse. SE has dropped a small megaton of other announcements in the past few days, mostly for games and downloads that're either ready to play right now, or will be soon. With so much ground to cover, consider this your early-2021 Square Enix lightning round:

FINAL FANTASY on YouTube

- Final Fantasy is going mobile with a pair of newly-announced titles for smart devices set in the world of Final Fantasy VII. First up is Final Fantasy VII: The First Solider, which makes Midgar the map of choice for the first-ever FF-themed battle royale game. Set three decades before the events of FFVII, play as a SOLDIER candidate who must wield Mako-infused magic, call upon summons, and hone your Shinra-tested fighting abilities in a last-one-standing fight to the finish. There’s no firm release date, but The First Soldier is set to arrive for Android and iOS devices sometime later this year. 

 

FINAL FANTASY on YouTube

- Also coming to mobile is Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis, a “chapter-structured single player experience which will cover the whole of the FFVII timeline, including the events of the original game along with all the FFVII compilation titles,” according to Square Enix. That’s a big timeline; one that conceivably could rope in the far-ranging events of spinoff titles like Crisis Core, Advent Children, Before Crisis, and (are we missing any here?) Dirge of Cerberus. New story elements penned by FFVII Remake writer Kazushige Nojima will also be part of the new narrative, and will explore “the origins of SOLDIER,” according to SE. Watch for more details ahead of the game’s arrival sometime in 2022 for Android and iOS platforms.

 

Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

- If you fell off the Marvel’s Avengers bandwagon after completing the original game’s Ms. Marvel-focused story campaign, Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics are serving up a fresh incentive to jump back in the fight. Hawkeye and Kate Bishop are heading to the game in next month’s big DLC update, enlisting the entire Avengers ensemble for an apocalypse-averting fight against Maestro. The Hawkeye: Future Imperfect story teaser above also dangles another reason to keep Earth’s Mightiest Heroes on speed dial: Marvel’s Avengers is making the next-gen jump to PS5 and Xbox Series X/S on March 18 — the same day as the new Hawkeye DLC.

 

PlayStation on YouTube

- The much-hyped arrival of all-new sci-fi IP Outriders is close at hand, and players are finally able to get their first up-close look at the alien world of Enoch thanks to the new game demo that just landed for consoles and PC. Via months and months of Outriders Broadcast video updates, Square Enix and developer People Can Fly have labored mightily to highlight the game's spacey shooter vibes, and we’ll have more to say about it all once we’ve worked our way past the demo in the days ahead. In the meantime, form your own early demo impression of Outriders for free, while awaiting the game’s April 1 release for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Google Stadia, and PC.

 

Square Enix on YouTube

- Last but most definitely not least, NieR mastermind Yoko Taro is putting the final flourishes on an HD remake of the game that (kind of) started it all. NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… arrives this spring as “a modern re-telling” of the 2010 Japan-only version of NieR Replicant, itself a spinoff from Taro’s Drakengard game franchise that eventually found far greater success with 2017’s amazing NieR: Automata sequel.

Square Enix shared a meaty new trailer for the game this week, giving fresh looks at both the story and gameplay elements that’ll grace the new remaster — which, sadly, so far hasn’t been given the next-gen green light for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. Instead, NieR’s original tragic tale (and man, is it tragic) is bound for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on April 23. Behind that happy moon mask, you know Emil’s not actually smiling.

Chaos Walking author talks film adaptation, including his favorite Tom Holland & Daisy Ridley scene @ Syfy Wire

Chaos Walking, the sci-fi movie starring Daisy Ridley, Tom Holland, and Mads Mikkelsen, is making its way to theaters on March 5. The origins of the film, however, go back 13 years to when the first book of Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy came out.

In both the book and the film, the story follows Todd (Holland), a young man who discovers Viola (Ridley) after her ship crash lands on his planet. Viola is the first female Todd has ever seen — all the women on the planet have been killed off, and all the men are afflicted by The Noise, a germ that puts all their thoughts on display. The mayor of Todd's town (Mikkelsen) has bad plans for Viola, and so she and Todd flee the town and find out everything is not what it seems.

SYFY WIRE sat down with Ness to talk about his books, the film adaptation — which he also co-wrote — and what readers and non-readers of the Chaos Walking trilogy can expect.

What things from the books did you want to make sure were included in the film, and how did you go about making sure those elements were included?

I had very tiny things in my book option contract, nothing big, but things that were important. The fate of a certain beloved character I said couldn't be changed, for example. The other thing was that there had to be two moons, but it turns out there are two suns, so that's fine. I thought that if somebody agreed to those two things, then they got what the book was about. You can't do that too much, because then you just look like a crazy author.

The other thing is to just stay helpful and friendly so people want your help — they want to know what you think, why you did stuff.

Can you speak more about why you didn't want the fate of that certain character changed?

Before I started books, I used to have three or four key scenes or images that really felt like they were speaking to me. They were something I was excited about. I felt if I was excited about them, that I was responding to something accurate about the story.

And so I write toward them while I'm writing, and they're the thing that makes it a book for me, and I felt with [spoiler!], I knew it was going to happen well before I started the book. I knew it was a destabilizing thing, because if [spoiler!] can go then so can everybody else.

One of the themes I really got from the film, and the books had this as well, is that there's an exploration of toxic masculinity. Can you talk about how you incorporated that theme into your work?

The book started with the idea about information overload — the first question it explores is, "What if you had to share everything? What would that cost you as a human being?" That's a premise though, it's not a plot.

So I just kept pushing, and one of the things that's always concerned me is how humans negotiate difference. We rarely see it as equal to us; we always put a value on it, that it's either better than us or worse than us. It's caused so many wars between people who are so similar except for maybe one little thing. And so I thought, "OK, what if a difference between men and women was in your face all the time, and had to be negotiated and reckoned with every single day and every single minute of every single day?" That felt really interesting because you have a scope of communities; some of them handled it well, some like Prentisstown handled it extremely badly, the very worst case.

In the 13 years since the book came out, we've had story after story about how women are not listened to. In this movie, they are effectively silent, and that has driven some men completely crazy because if you're pushing your own image of what a woman is onto a woman and not listening to them as a separate human being, that's the first step to dehumanization. It's an easy step to misogyny, which is an easy step to genocide. It's not as long a road as it very much should be.

The movie shows The Noise in a really interesting way. Is that what it looked like in your head when you were writing the books?

Pretty much, and I feel quite lucky about that.

There's a scene, it's just a short scene where Daisy Ridley is walking up a hill and Tom Holland is behind her. And he's thinking grumpy thoughts, and they're just flying off the back of his head into the camera. That, to me, is perfect. It shows how messy a thought is, how ephemeral thought can be.

What about the Spackle aliens? Are they what you imagined they'd look like as well?

It's actually rather better than what I imagined. It's difficult when you're writing an alien and they're humanoid and bipedal, and suddenly they become very Area 51, and you're like, "Oh no, that's not it."

What I'm most happy about in the film is how idiosyncratic they look. It looks like an individual, it doesn't look cookie-cutter, like they all look the same. This looks like a creature with a personality, who has been through some stuff. The other big theme of the trilogy is, if we were to colonize space, would we make the same mistakes we did in America and in Australia? And my argument is, "Yeah, probably." And so it was really important to me that the native species is at least glimpsed as a fully functioning society that we have not treated particularly well.

I know a lot of authors like to fancast their characters. When you wrote the books over 13 years ago, Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland weren't on people's radar. Did you do any fancasting yourself back in the day for Todd, Viola, and Mayor Prentiss?

The idea of casting I find deliriously funny. I tend to not do that because it makes me laugh, because it's so ridiculous. I also don't want to say another actor because I don't want to disrespect the people who got it in any way.

But, before I was familiar with the work of Mads, because this was 13 years ago, I thought about somebody like Tom Hanks playing a villain. But Mads is fantastic — that presence he has! So thank God I didn't get to choose.

Is there anything specific that readers of the books will especially enjoy when watching the film?

They are going to love Cynthia Erivo, as Hildy was a beloved character in the book. She's great. And there is a very funny, wonderful, sweet scene in the movie that is not in the books that I love. If I were writing the books now, I would put it in the books. It's the scene that starts with Tom and Daisy hiding in the rain under a tarp. I don't want to give it away, I'm not going to spoil, but it's really funny. I love it.

This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.

Chaos Walking premieres in theaters on March 5.

'Superman' reboot in the works from super-team of Ta-Nehisi Coates and J.J. Abrams @ Syfy Wire

It's taken a while, but Superman is expected to return to a big screen near you — and the project is coming from a few A-list creatives. Deadline reports that Warner Bros. is developing a reboot of its film franchise centered around DC's famous Man of Steel.

Ta-Nehisis Coates (a National Book Award winner and writer of a Black Panther and Captain America comic book series for Marvel) is signed on to write the project, with J.J. Abrams (currently enjoying a mega-deal with the studio) producing. No director has been announced at this point.

While the aim is to revamp the series, the report notes that Henry Cavill has expressed an interest in reprising the role of Clark Kent — though there's no word yet on the direction in which Coates and Abrams want to take the character.

That said, The Hollywood Reporter's Borys Kit tweeted that the aim is to possibly introduce a Black Superman, which is "something that the studio has been trying to find a way in for months if not a year or two." Other reports also note a search is imminent for a new Superman, so Cavill's longterm fate as the Man of Steel is certainly... up in the air. Apparently Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther, Static Shock) attempted to do something similar when he signed an overall deal with WB in 2019, but ultimately, the idea didn't pick up enough momentum.

Interestingly, this isn't Abrams' first stab at the Man of Tomorrow. Back in the early 2000s, the up-and-coming producer wrote a screenplay entitled Superman: Flyby. The project, which even commissioned some original concept art, was never made once Warner Bros. decided to green-light Bryan Singer's Superman Returns instead. Abrams is also working on Justice League Dark and Constantine TV shows for HBO Max.

“To be invited into the DC Extended Universe by Warner Bros., DC Films and Bad Robot is an honor,” Coates said in a statement published by Variety. “I look forward to meaningfully adding to the legacy of America’s most iconic mythic hero.”

Added Abrams: "There is a new, powerful and moving Superman story yet to be told. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with the brilliant Mr. Coates to help bring that story to the big screen, and we’re beyond thankful to the team at Warner Bros. for the opportunity."

Credit: Ismael Quintanilla/Getty Images for SXSW & Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

Variety writes that there is "no director attached to the [reboot] project at this time and the search for an actor to play Kal-El / Superman has not yet begun." This seems to imply that WB is looking for a full Superman reset after the lukewarm reception to the DC Extended Universe foundations laid by Zack Snyder with 2013's Man of Steel. Things didn't necessarily improve with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice two years later, and the entire experiment threatened to collapse with the release of 2017's Justice League

It seems Snyder's final contribution to the onscreen mythos will be his preferred cut of Justice League, a four-hour miniseries that premieres on HBO Max next month. Given that the studio is looking to take the DCEU in a different direction, Snyder has described his established continuity as now being part of an "Elseworlds" universe.

Luckily, the studio has a perfect chance to leave the past behind by opening up an entire multiverse in next summer's standalone Flash movie starring Ezra Miller. Directed by Andy Muschietti, the film will feature a brand-new version of Supergirl, played by sopa opera actress Sasha Calle.

"Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me opened a window and changed the way many of us see the world,” said Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group. “We’re confident that his take on Superman will give fans a new and exciting way to see the Man of Steel."


A Superman Solo Film Is on the Way From Ta-Nehisi Coates and J.J. Abrams [Updated] @ io9

A new Superman movie is finally in the works from a superhuman team of talents.

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Wynonna Earp: Party along with the cast via behind-the-scenes clips during midseason premiere @ Syfy Wire

The midseason premiere of Wynonna Earp is almost upon us! On March 5 at 10 p.m. ET /9 CT, Season 4’s seventh episode, “Love's All Over,” will air on SYFY, and the cast has something extra in store for fans: a watch party.

During the episode, viewers will catch snippets of the cast sharing behind-the-scenes anecdotes and more during commercial breaks. If you miss the clips when they first air (check out here to find out how you can watch the premiere), they’ll also be posted on SYFY's Twitter account. Earpers can also tweet their own thoughts when watching the episode by using the hashtag #WynonnaWatchParty.

Curious what the residents of Purgatory have to say about "Love's All Over"? Check out the teaser below to get a taste of what Melanie Scrofano (Wynonna Earp), Tim Rozon (Doc Holliday), Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Waverly Earp), Katherine Barrell (Nicole Haught), and Varun Saranga (Jeremy Chetri) have to say about the upcoming episode:

Scrofano’s impersonation of Rozon playing Doc suggests the cast will have a lot of fun with each other as they share their memories of shooting the midseason premiere. It's also good to see the two on good terms since their characters, as the trailer for the remaining six episodes of the season reveals, are on the rocks.

Could the episode's title — "Love's All Over" —  refer to their relationship? Or (Purgatory forbid!) does something terrible happen between Waverly and Nicole? Or maybe the title refers to something else completely. We’ll have to wait until March 5 to find out, which — luckily for us — is only days away. 

The brand-new six episodes of the fourth season are set to return on March 5 at 10 p.m. ET /9 CT and will culminate in SYFY’s epic finale on Friday, April 9.


Pre-Order Pokémon Legends: Arceus, Brilliant Diamond, and Shining Pearl, If You Dare @ io9

The Nerd's Watch: The Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Streaming in March @ io9

Viewers are turning to streaming entertainment more than ever thanks to the global pandemic, and the plethora of services—Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney+, and HBO Max—can serve as a much-needed escape. At the start of each month, most streamers do a little shuffle, adding new movies and taking some away—and io9 is here…

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WandaVision reveals painful pasts and bestows a mantle in Episode 8, 'Previously On' @ Syfy Wire

Welcome back to WandaVision (WandaVision!) where it is always sunny... aside from the constant rain of chaos. 

***WARNING: From this point forward there will be spoilers for the WandaVision episode “Previously On.” If you have not watched yet, then go and watch some TV on DVD and get OUTTA here Dewey! You don’t want this.***

It was Agatha all along, but Agatha still needs answers — she came here to figure out what the heck's going on. So Agatha (Kathryn Hahn) takes Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) on a journey through her past in the appropriately titled episode, “Previously On,” to try and get to the bottom of it. 

Some pieces of Wanda’s Marvel Cinematic Universe history are familiar, and some are new. Almost all of them are heartbreaking, and they all involve Wanda using television to cope.

Been there, friend Wanda. Been there.

Before we go into Wanda’s past, though, we get a flashback with Agatha Harkness. We see her about to be destroyed by her own coven of witches in 1693 Salem because Agatha delved into dangerous magic that was off-limits. The coven's powers are no match for Agatha’s, though, and before long, her coven is shriveled and gone, their magic seemingly absorbed by Agatha. 

Agatha does try appealing to them, saying that she can be good. Their only response was, “No, you cannot,” even when she begs them to teach her. They still refuse. 

Fair enough — you’re all dead now! She snags her signature cameo brooch off of the corpse of her coven leader (who is also her mother, it seems), and makes it a part of her regular ensemble. 

Back in her basement, Agatha lays this whole magic thing out for Wanda. She needs to know how magic on this scale is possible, with Wanda herself not knowing becoming a point of frustration. Wanda doesn't even know the "fundamentals" of magic (as Agatha calls them).

Credit: Marvel Studios/Disney+

She was responsible for Fake Pietro ("Fietro") because the real Pietro’s body is in another country and "full of holes." We saw last week that she was responsible for much more, but the magic being turned up to 11 and running on autopilot? That has not been Agatha all along, it's been Wanda.

So, the magical duo have to take a little trip into the past to discover the hows and whys of it being Wanda all along. 

Each stage of Wanda’s life that we visit is marked by tragedy, and television was always there to help Wanda through. Her Sokovian father (conveniently masked in shadows for a hot second to, maybe, give hope that we'd be getting another X-universe cameo) (that is not the case) brings home a suitcase full of shows, including Bewitched, I Love Lucy, and Malcolm in the Middle. They keep The Dick Van Dyke Show in a special hiding place. These are all shows that we’ve seen WandaVision riff on. Wanda loves the harmless shenanigans and escapism of these shows — her younger self is enthralled by them right before her parents get blown away. 

When she and young Pietro are waiting for a Stark missile to kill them (as we hear about in Avengers: Age of Ultron), the television is still skipping through frames of The Dick Van Dyke Show right next to it. That’s all well and good, but Agatha wants to know where Wanda got the “big guns.” She notes that Wanda was not without power here — even guessing that Wanda used a probability spell to keep herself and Pietro safe — but she certainly had them amplified later. 

Cut to the HYDRA experiments, where we see Wanda’s first encounter with Loki’s scepter (never far from our hearts), having her powers enhanced by the Mind Stone within. During the "experiment," she sees a vision of a floating woman with a similar headpiece to the one Wanda normally wears in the comics. In the aftermath, she once again copes using TV. Without assistance from the Infinity Stone, Agatha says that her powers would have “died on the vine.”

Flash to the Avengers compound after Pietro's death, where Wanda copes with television until she is joined by Vision. He comforts her, saying, “What is grief, if not love persevering?” 

You can almost see Wanda transferring her coping mechanisms from the television to Vision himself. 

Wanda ultimately ends up with an MCU sad-sack "go f**k yourself" pack: dead parents, dead brother, dead Vision — hello, darkness, my old friend — and nothing to hold her magic back. We see her storm into the S.W.O.R.D. base, but she doesn’t steal Vision’s body as Hayward (now firmly our least favorite person) claimed in a previous episode. She doesn't wreak havoc and break into the facility. No, Hayward invited her in, only for Wanda to find them dismantling Vision's body because it’s a "sentient weapon" and Hayward is a sentient a-hole.

Wanda doesn’t steal the body. She walks away, gets into her car, and starts driving. Eventually, she arrives in Westview. 

Why is she here? From the note on the deed to the unfinished property she arrives at, which is described as a spot “to grow old in” and signed "V," we can assume it was Vision. He was going to build them a home. Then he died and left Wanda alone in the universe. 

Overcome by grief, Wanda's magic goes ham, exploding outward and building up the house around her before spreading. The town transforms into the black-and-white Pleasantville from the first episode, and an entirely new Vision is created from yellow Mind Stone-ish light. 

Again: Wanda did not steal Vision's body and remake him. The Vision we've been watching throughout WandaVision was created by pure magic. Is this why our Vision can't remember anything before Westview?

This new Vision looks at Wanda with love in his eyes. “Wanda," he says. "Welcome home.” The show begins. 

Cut back to a set, a studio, and Agatha applauding. She has kind of figured everything out? In the street, Agatha's got Billy and Tommy by the necks with her purple magic and tells Wanda that she, "a being capable of spontaneous creation," is supposed to be a myth. This kind of power shouldn't exist. Instead, Wanda is using what power she has “to make breakfast for dinner.” 

Agatha then drops a few words that Wanda Maximoff fans have been waiting years to hear spoken in the MCU: 

“This is chaos magic, Wanda. And that makes you the Scarlet Witch.”

At long last, Wanda Maximoff has received her true comic book-accurate name. Where will her chaos go next? Agatha will probably be a bad influence. And, as we see in the after-credit scene, Hayward actually reassembling the real Vision (with some power from "the source") isn’t going to help anything. 

It’s all bad, everything hurts, and the Scarlet Witch has run out of shows to binge. Let Wanda’s chaos reign, and let it reign forever. 

New episodes of WandaVision are available to watch on Disney+ every Friday. 

Netflix takes on a dark fantasy world in first grimy trailer for 'Shadow and Bone' series @ Syfy Wire

Netflix is here to guide us into the Grisha-verse with the first trailer for its TV adaptation of Shadow and Bone. Based on Leigh Bardugo's best-selling novels, the show takes place in "a very different kind of fantasy world," according to the author. "Think Imperial Russia, not Medieval England, repeating rifles instead of broadswords."

Arrival and Bird Box scribe Eric Heisserer serves as showrunner, writer, and executive producer on this story about Alina Starkov (played by Jessie Mei Li), an orphan and soldier in a war-torn land, who unlocks a power that may hold the key to her country's freedom. To emancipate her people from the looming threat of the Shadow Fold, however, Alina must leave everything she knows behind to join an elite army of magic-users known as Grisha. "But as she struggles to hone her power, she finds that allies and enemies can be one and the same and that nothing in this lavish world is what it seems," reads the synopsis. "There are dangerous forces at play, including a crew of charismatic criminals, and it will take more than magic to survive."

"We worked tirelessly to craft a lived-in feel for fictional lands like Ketterdam and Ravka, with invented languages, uniforms, currency, and artistic choices from set design to costuming," Heisserer said in a statement. "You're immersed in the Grisha-verse when you read, and it's our hope that both new and existing fans have that same feeling when they watch the show. The series has an incredibly passionate fanbase and we can't wait for new people to discover the magic that is Shadow and Bone."

And as you can see in the trailer below, the whole world has come to life, from not just the Shadow Fold itself, but also Alina's unlocked powers, as fans are given a first glimpse at her newly unlocked sun-summoning abilities — not to mention, a trio of characters from Bardugo's Six of Crows duology as Kaz Brekker, Jesper Fahey, and Inej Ghafa all make an appearance. 

"It's a story about the people who have been told how much they don't matter proving how much they do," Bardugo added. "And it's been incredible to see that story take shape on such an epic scale, the battles, the magic, but also the relationships between the characters."

Archie Renaux ("Malyen Oretsev"), Freddy Carter ("Kaz Brekker"), Amita Suman ("Inej"), Kit Young ("Jesper Fahey"), and Ben Barnes ("General Kirigan"), Sujaya Dasgupta ("Zoya Nazyalensky"), Danielle Galligan ("Nina Zenik"), Daisy Head ("Genya Safin"), Simon Sears ("Ivan"), Calahan Skogman ("Matthias Helvar"), Zoë Wanamaker ("Baghra"), Kevin Eldon ("The Apparat"), Julian Kostov ("Fedyor"), Luke Pasqualino ("David"), Jasmine Blackborow ("Marie"), and Gabrielle Brooks ("Nadia") co-star.

Bardugo executive produces the show alongside Heisserer, Shawn Levy, Dan Cohen, Josh Barry, Pouya Shahbazian, and Lee Toland Krieger. Krieger also directed the series, which will burst on the Netflix scene on April 23. In the meantime, check out some first look images in the gallery below...

Batman enters the Fortnite universe in new DC/Epic Games comic crossover event @ Syfy Wire

Batman's been through a lot of crossover events in his more than 80 years of comic book history, tackling everything from a trilogy with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to a battle with the Xenomorph from Alien, but he's never faced anything quite like this before. DC Comics announced Friday that the Caped Crusader will enter the world of gaming juggernaut Fortnite in an ambitious new comic book miniseries: Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point

The six-issue miniseries was written by Christos Gage from a story developed by Gage and Epic's Chief Creative Officer, Donald Mustard, with art from Reilly Brown, Christian Duce,  Nelson DeCastro, and John Kalisz. The series will follow Batman as he journeys through a rift that takes him from Gotham City into the world of Fortnite, with no memory of who he is or how he got there. Here's more from the official synopsis:

"As he fights to recall his past and escape an endless loop of chaos and struggle, he’ll come face-to-face with the likes of Renegade Raider, Fishstick, Bandolier, and more. While the world's greatest detective strives to make sense of this strange new world, he’ll uncover the shocking truth about the Island, what lies beyond the Loop, and how everything is connected to the mysterious Zero Point."

And here's a look at the art from the series, including a preview of a new Harley Quinn Rebirth Outfit that will be released in conjunction with the comic.

While on some level, it's just fun to think about Batman emerging in Fortnite's world and trying to figure things out, Gage teased in a press release announcing the book that Zero Point will also be full of secrets about the iconic game itself, secrets with DC promises haven't been revealed anywhere else before. 

“When DC first approached me about doing a Batman/Fortnite series I thought it would be a lot of fun,” Gage said. ”After speaking with Donald and discovering just how deeply we'd be diving into the secrets behind the world of Fortnite, I was amazed! This series will reveal things about Fortnite that have never been seen or heard before yet are very much part of the canon of the game.”

Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point debuts April 20 in comic book stores and on digital platforms, with subsequent issues releasing every two weeks up until the series finale on July 6. Each issue will include a digital code redeemable for new in-game items inspired by the story, and players who unlock all six codes will receive a special seventh bonus item. The series will also be free to all DC Universe Infinite subscribers, complete with bonus codes.

 

Striking Australian Bee Spotted for First Time in a Century—but It Could Face New Threats @ io9

Not since 1923 have scientists gazed upon the Australian cloaked bee. That is, until recently when scientists located a few populations in the wild. But its rediscovery comes as a mixed blessing owing to its potentially threatened status.

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An Ode to a Jigglypuff @ io9

Twenty-five years ago in Red and Blue, freshly-minted Boulder-Badge owning Pokémon trainers would find themselves heading toward the first steps of the rest of their lives drowning in bird Pokémon. Route 3 was filled with them—Pidgeys and Spearows, as far as the tall grass could see—but every once in a while, when the…

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Pokémon Legends: Arceus Is A New Open-World Game Coming In 2022 @ io9

Set in the Sinnoh Region of old, Pokémon Legends Arceus is a new approach to open-world Pokémon games coming to the Nintendo Switch in early 2022.

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Neill Blomkamp writing 'District 10' with original co-writer Terri Tatchell and star Sharlto Copley @ Syfy Wire

We love the smell of Prawns in the morning! In a Twitter post Friday, filmmaker Neill Blomkamp once again assured fans that a sequel to his 2009 breakout feature, District 9, is still in the works. The director wrote that he's currently penning the script alongside Terri Tatchell (who co-wrote the first movie and 2015's Chappie) and original star, Sharlto Copley. "It's coming," Blomkamp promised of the follow-up, which, as of right now, is titled District 10.

Using the genre of sci-fi to create an analogy for the era of South African apartheid, District 9 unfolds in Johannesburg, where a race of crustacean-like visitors from outer space (derogatively referred to as "Prawns" by the human populace) are treated as second-class citizens. The title refers to the rundown city of shacks in which the extra-terrestrials have lived in poverty for years. Copley plays Wikus van de Merwe, a cocky government employee who starts transforming into a Prawn after he's accidentally sprayed with a mysterious alien compound.

Hoping to reverse the process, Wikus helps a Prawn named Christopher Johnson restart the defunct spaceship that looms over Johannesburg. The story ends with Christopher traveling back to the Prawn home planet and Wikus completing his metamorphosis, while humanity wonders when and if Johnson will return.

"I want to go back to that world and tell rest of the story with Wikus and Christopher," Blomkamp wrote during a Reddit AMA in 2017. "The issue right now is that I have many other projects and ideas that I also want to work on and complete...and most importantly, the exact right REASON to make District 10 needs be very clear. The first film was based so explicitly on real themes and topics from South Africa that affected me greatly growing up there, that we need to make sure the next film does not forget that."

Employing a mixture of traditional and documentary filmmaking techniques, District 9 was adapted from Blomkamp's 2006 short film, "Alive in Joburg." It brought in a little over $210 million at the global box office (against a meager budget of $30 million) and snagged four Oscar nominations, including ones for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The movie cemented Blomkamp as one of the most visionary genre directors of the 21st century and he'd go on to make Elysium and Chappie, as well as develop ideas for new installments in the Alien and RoboCop franchises. Sadly, the latter two projects never panned out. His next onscreen efforts are a secret film he made during the COVID-19 pandemic last year and Inferno, a sci-fi mystery/thriller starring Taylor Kitsch.


Embrace Your Cottage Core Calling and Add a Calico Critters Set to Your Life @ io9

Calico Critters Sets | $17-$20 | Amazon Gold Box

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Firestarter director teases ‘raw, very emotional, very tense’ reboot of Stephen King classic @ Syfy Wire

The Blumhouse/Universal Firestarter remake has been in development since at least 2018, but seems like it is finally ready to head into production. Based on Stephen King's 1980 novel, and the 1984 film, Firestarter follows Charlie and her father Andy as they run from "The Shop," the government agency that tested hallucinogenic drugs on Andy and his wife. The tests gave the pair low-grade psychokinetic powers, but it was nothing compared to the powers that Charlie gained. 

We recently caught up with director Keith Thomas on the eve of the release of his feature debut, The Vigil. He has been tapped to direct the new Firestarter. “I was always a big fan of King’s book,” he told SYFY WIRE, “and I liked the 80s movie. When I was presented with the idea, I was really excited to give it this interesting, new approach that I hadn’t seen in the original film, that I thought was there in the book.”

Thomas likes that it’s a “supernatural film that’s grounded,” unlike a lot of King’s other work, like IT and The Shining. “Firestarter is dealing with psychic powers and how a little kid with this crazy ability can really become something complicated for her parents.” Scott Teems, who wrote the upcoming Halloween sequel, Halloween Kills, wrote the script, which Thomas calls “amazing.”  

“When I came on board, we dug into the characters more, spending more time with Charlie and Andy and [Andy's wife] Vicki," Thomas says, before he begins to ruminate on some of the more grounded aspects of the story. "How do you parent when you’ve got a little girl who can melt someone’s face off when she gets angry? How do you parent on the run, when there is a company called The Shop after you, that wants to vivisect you, experiment on you?"

But Thomas doesn't want to stray too far from the aspects that made the original film a favorite. "How do you explore all those angles more in-depth, at the same time keeping it the same road trip movie of a father and daughter on the run?” He promises to deliver something that is "a little more emotionally rich" than the 1984 film.

The new film has booked Zac Efron as Andy, and Michael Greyeyes as Rainbird, one of The Shop agents that captures the pair and convinces Charlie he is an ally. Charlie, originally played by a young Drew Barrymore in her breakout role, has not yet been cast.

“Our approach is really to dig deep into the text and pull more of that out,” Thomas continues. “The hope is that it will be a really emotional, visceral thrill ride.” He promises that if you are looking for the horror promised by a film called Firestarter, you will get that. “At the same time, you’re going to get this rich exploration of family dynamics in a threatened world. It’s very raw, very emotional, very tense.”

Thomas hopes that they will begin shooting sometime this year.

 

Spider-Man Tom Holland Discusses His Post-No Way Home Future With Marvel @ io9

The Shazam sequel adds to its cast. One of the Titans’ new antagonists gets a shiny new costume. Plus updates from Doctor Who, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Superman & Lois, and more. Friday spoilers dropping in 3...2...1...

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A comet makes a pit stop near Jupiter but will eventually get flung into interstellar space @ Syfy Wire

In June 2019, the automated survey ATLAS (Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System) found a new object moving against the background stars. Initially called 2019 LD2, it was thought to be an asteroid orbiting the Sun out near Jupiter. However, an amateur astronomer noticed it appeared to be fuzzy, not point-like, which means it was more like a comet: Icy material on the surface turning into a gas as it's warmed by the Sun.

Checking archived images, astronomers determined it had been "active" for several months at least. The name of the object was then changed to P/2019 LD2, indicating its status as a periodic comet.

Images by other observatories confirmed this, including Hubble. When they looked at the comet in April 2020 they saw it sporting quite a grand tail, extending for about 600,000 kilometers, nearly twice the distance of the Moon from the Earth! Mind you, the nucleus — the solid part of the comet — is probably only about 4 kilometers across.

Hubble image of the unusual comet P/2019 LD2, which is currently orbiting the Sun near Jupiter, but will soon be ejected from the solar system. Credit: NASA, ESA, and B. Bolin (Caltech)

Calculations show that around that time it was losing about 80 kilograms of water ice per second. It was also shedding gases like carbon monoxide (about 50 kilos/second), carbon dioxide (7 kilos/second) and diatomic carbon (two carbon atoms bound together; at a rate of 40 grams per second).

That may sound like a lot, but it turns out it just started outgassing like this... and it won't for very long. It's status as a periodic comet is only temporary. Extremely temporary: Follow-up measurements to determine its orbit found it's actually in a similar orbit as Jupiter, and there's an excellent chance that, in the distant future, the mighty gravity of the giant planet will fling the comet out of the solar system entirely.

When that happens it will become an interstellar comet like 2I/Borisov or 'Oumuamua, interstellar objects that both recently passed through our solar system (and which, I'll note, are not alien spaceships).

That's fitting, since it probably began life in the outer reaches of the solar system, too.

The orbit of the comet P/2019 LD2 (white) is very similar to Jupiter’s (orange) though slightly tilted. This shows the positions of the planets and comet on February 25, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

It's likely that P/2019 LD2 started out as what's called a Trans-Neptunian Object, an icy body orbiting the Sun in the Kuiper Belt out past Neptune. Over time, very gentle nudges by Neptune's gravity urged it into a smaller orbit, closer to the Sun. Eventually it got close enough that Neptune could yank on it much harder, changing its orbit substantially, putting it in an orbit between that of Jupiter and Neptune (from about 800 million to 3 billion kilometers from the Sun). Objects on orbits like that are called Centaurs.

Centaurs are interesting. Over time, the gas giants tend to change their orbits still more. Generally, after a few million years in this part of the solar system, they get too close to one of the planets. Either they get dropped down into the inner solar system (and become what we call Jupiter Family Comets) or get thrown out of the solar system entirely. Because of that we call them transitional objects*.

What will be the fate of P/2019 LD2? And where did it originally come from?

Observations over time of an object can be used to determine its orbit, which can then be projected into the past and future. The problem is we can't measure the orbit exactly; there's always some uncertainty in it. The farther you try to predict its position in the future (or antedict its position in the past) the fuzzier it gets, the bigger the volume of space it might occupy. That makes this sort of prognostication dicey.

To get around this, astronomers did something clever: They simulated its orbit using what's called a Monte Carlo technique. They take the physical characteristics of the orbit (the shape, the distance from the Sun, the tilt, and so on) and then change each one very slightly, creating a slightly different orbit. They then run that into the past and future and see what it does. They do this again and again, creating a virtual cohort of objects each with marginally different paths. This way, you get a more statistical idea of what the history and future of the object was and will be.

What they found for P/2019 LD2 is that it probably only entered Jupiter's space about 2.5 years ago! Before that it was a standard-issue Centaur, but got nudged into its current orbit very recently.

Artwork depicting a frozen object like an asteroid or comet in deep space. Credit: Getty Images / Mark Garlick / Science Photo Library

And its future? They found it likely that it will only stay in its current orbit for 8 or 9 more years. After that it will likely drop down into the inner solar system, becoming a Jupiter Family Comet. This means is that it's only making a pit stop near Jupiter.

Even that's temporary. It has a 50% of being ejected from the solar system in 340,000 years, which rises to 95% in 4 million years.

It's likely that, over the age of the solar system, billions of objects like this have been ejected. And there are billions of stars like the Sun… which is why astronomers think the galaxy is loaded with rogue interstellar iceballs like P/2019 LD2, and why it's not so surprising that we see them passing through our solar system, too.

Will some alien scientists in the distant future see LD2 passing through their own system? What would they make of it? It's fun, and oddly reassuring, to know that pieces of our neighborhood will be scattered among the stars, going from citizens of our solar system to citizens of the galaxy.


*Which is pretty cool it worked out that way, given that they're named after mythical half-human/half-horse creatures.

Get a Copy of Final Fantasy VII Remake for $30, Because the PS Plus Version Won't Upgrade To Intergrade @ io9

Perseverance’s Most Intriguing Images Captured From Mars So Far @ io9

NASA’s Perseverance rover has been on Mars for a full week, and the images are starting to pour in. Here are our favorites so far.

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Why do most spaceships in sci-fi have their guns on backwards? @ Boing Boing

Have you ever noticed that most spaceships in science fiction only have aft thrusters and forward-facing guns (or on the sides)? Wouldn't you want guns that turret 360, aft-facing guns , and forward-facing thrusters so you can move the ship towards and away from enemy ordinance? — Read the rest

Get Noise Canceled With Anker's Soundcore Q30 Headphones for $68 @ io9

Baby Yoda Gets a New Cute Plush Line, Because He Doesn't Have Enough Toys Yet @ io9

The Mandalorian season two may be over, but the desire to take Grogu (aka darling of the internet Baby Yoda) and turn him into merchandise will continue for a good while yet.

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Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Chapter 15: Old Friends are Reunited @ Bureau 42

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The group are reunited with many of the prominent personages of Oz, some of whom make their first appearances in this particular book.

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Author: W. Blaine Dowler

The Handmaid's Tale returns with June going 'nomadic' in 'most ambitious' season yet @ Syfy Wire

When Hulu's Emmy-award winning The Handmaid's Tale finally returns for its fourth season this April, it will have been 20 months since audiences watched June (Elisabeth Moss) smuggle innocent children out of dystopian Gilead. A shot against the bow of the patriarchy and their totalitarian regime, June's act of rebellion sets up the very different dynamic that audiences will experience in Season 4 of the adaptation of Margaret Atwood's classic novel.

At today's Hulu presentation at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, executive producers Bruce Miller, Elisabeth Moss, and Warren Littlefield told reporters that Season 4 is all about delivering on the many things they've been setting up for the past three seasons. 

"In this season, we're not waiting around and it’s time for s*** to happen, so we made s*** happen," Miller said with excitement. "It makes me feel that there's a lot of life left in this story."

Under embargo until Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 at 1:00 PM PT

Miller means that literally and figuratively because storylines from The Testaments, Atwood's 2019 sequel novel, will also be folded into the narrative of future seasons, including Season 5, which has already been greenlit by Hulu.

In Season 4, Littlefield revealed that some of those seeded stories getting screen time will center around the Chicago uprisings. "We leave our central universe of the Boston area, and Nick (Max Minghella) is sent to Chicago. For Season 4, we have no home base. We burned it down. In Season 4, we’re nomadic and following June’s passion, drive and relentless pursuit for change. It's ironic in the year of COVID, it's also our most ambitious production year."

Miller shared that a big source of conflict is Aunt Lydia's (Ann Dowd) obsession with finding June. He compared Lydia's pursuits to those of Javert in Les Miserables. "Although they are enemies, they are inextricably linked and thinking about what the other person is doing all the time. They would both rather be rid of each other, but they are tangled up with each other."

It was also revealed that Moss just finished directing three of the season's 10 episodes. It was her first time directing for television, but it had been planned since Season 1. Deciding there would be no perfect time, Miller and Littlefield said she knocked it out of the park taking all aspects of the job as seriously as her commitment to playing June Osborne.

For her part, Moss admitted it wasn't as too much of a jump, considering she's been such an active creative behind the scenes of the series since day one. "As June, I've intrinsically been involved in the show from the beginning, so I know it so well. It’s not a big shift to take on that new position."

However, she did admit to learning a lot, especially when directing her fellow actors, which she said initially felt wrong providing them notes about performances. "You're not supposed to give notes to other actors as an actor," she laughed. "I'm trained not to do that! But in the end that ended up being my favorite part of the whole experience. Luckily, we have an incredible cast so it was like tinkering with a Maserati."

She also said that the United States' new political landscape post Biden election is something that audiences will feel metaphorically in Season 4: "There's a lot of rage and anger many want to sweep under the rug. And so much of June’s journey is screaming into the wind, 'We will not forget!' Having been inside it [during production], I’m only now realizing how relevant it is."

The Handmaid's Tale Season 4 premieres Apr. 28 with three-episodes on Hulu.

Danny Elfman scores Adam Driver’s '65' film, drops new music vid where horned beast swipes left on him @ Syfy Wire

Legendary composer Danny Elfman, who has scored numerous films including The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice, Batman, and Edward Scissorhands, is back to work scoring another genre film, the sci-fi movie 65

In an interview with Inverse, Elfman shared what he'll be working on in 2021. “I am starting to do bits of pre-work for Doctor Strange 2 that Sam Raimi’s directing,” he shared, referencing Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which is scheduled to come out in early 2022.  “Even though I don’t start it for some months, there’s bits of recorded music they need for the sets. I believe I could announce I’m scoring this fantasy action sci-fi movie called 65. It’s a pretty wild piece of imagination.”

The plot of 65 has been kept under wraps. We do know, however, that it’s directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place) and stars Adam Driver and Ariana Greenblatt, who played young Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War. Production on the film has officially wrapped, according to the directors, who tweeted on Feb. 21: "Getting to make a movie is incredible, but forming a film family is even better. We are feeling grateful, exhilarated, and sixty-five years older." 

No news yet on when the movie will be released.

Elfman also shared what he did to keep himself busy in the year that was 2020 — a music video appropriately titled “Love in the time of Covid.” The song is an angry, frustrated one, and the corresponding music video features a horned monster in a tracksuit eating Fruit Loops and lusting after a green-skinned woman he finds on a dating app (the monster, unfortunately, swiped left several times on a singing Elfman).

Intrigued? You can check out the music video here:

“'Love in the Time of Covid' was a thread my family was using at the time,” Elfman explained when Inverse asked about his inspiration for the song. “Obviously taken from ‘Love in the Time of Cholera.’ That’s just where I was in quarantine. I started writing, and I found that as I was writing, songs were coming out in pairs. I didn’t even know what I was writing. But these pairs were alternatively heavy and light. Like two separate writers jostling for space, equally aggressive to get their work heard. So when I was writing, one was serious, the other was ‘Love in the Time of Covid.’”


Monstrous, superfast black hole can tell us how dead stars morph into such beasts @ Syfy Wire

What happens when a black hole is way faster and more massive than anyone could have imagined?

The black hole in the Cygnus X-1 binary star system was the first black hole ever discovered. It has now been found to be the fastest in the universe, and 50% more massive than previously thought. What makes this monster really confusing is that really bright stars were thought to lose a significant amount of mass before their death and zombification as black holes. Finding out why it is so huge, but still spins like the devil, can help scientists rethink the evolution of massive stars that eventually meet their doom as black holes.

Astronomer James Miller-Jones of ICRAR (International Center for Radio Astronomy Research) at Curtin University realized that Cygnus X-1's black hole didn’t shed nearly as much as expected. It almost seems as if this beast is laughing evilly in the face of theories about black hole formation.

“It is the mass of the black hole that is most problematic,” Miller-Jones, who led a study recently published in Science, told SYFY WIRE. “Our current best theoretical models suggest that in the Milky Way environment, the mass lost by massive stars via their stellar winds over their few-million-year lifetimes should limit the mass of the black holes that they create to no more than about 15 times the mass of the Sun.”

Radiation is behind the stellar winds that sweep particles across hot stars and into space (which is how our electrical infrastructure periodically gets messed up by that radiation when a solar storm or coronal mass ejection happens). These winds can take much more stellar mass with them if there is high radiation pressure at really high energy levels, which explains why the brightest stars can also lose the most mass. So much luminosity means more energy is being burned. The loss of mass can even change how stars evolve. But wait.

Here is where it gets weird. If black holes are supposed to reach their ultimate mass when they get to be around 15 solar masses, then how could the one in Cygnus X-1 go above and beyond that? Steller winds are not exactly easy to measure, which only deepens the mystery. There might also be black holes out there that are even more massive but still formed in an environment similar to that of our galaxy, where there is a high concentration of heavy elements which are the remnants of star corpses.

The Cygnus constellation, where the Cygnus X-1 system (top) lurks. Credit: NASA

“Since this black hole exists, there has to be a way for it to form,” Miller-Jones said. “We think that we need to recalibrate our models for how stars lose mass in winds, reducing the mass loss rates at particular phases of a star’s lifetime. We also need find more black holes in our Milky Way galaxy, to try to understand what the maximum black hole mass actually is, so that we can get a more accurate calibration of our models.”

Because Miller-Jones and his team were able to find out the approximate mass of the black hole and its distance from Earth, they could then get an idea of how devilishly fast it was spinning. As a black hole spins, it drags around spacetime, which also drags orbiting particles that become unstable. They end up getting pulled into the black hole’s gaseous accretion disc and orbiting closer and closer until they finally get past the event horizon — the point of no return. The faster the speed, the closer the particles, the more quickly they vanish into oblivion.

The further into the accretion disc you go, the hotter it gets. Enough heat makes it generate X-rays, whose brightness can give away the temperature. It is this temperature that tells astronomers the speed of a black hole. Turns out the black hole in Cygnus X-1 isn’t too bulky to spin just on the edge of the speed of light.

“With that temperature, then if we know the black hole distance and mass, which we measured in our study... we can figure out how close that X-ray emitting gas is to the black hole, and therefore how fast the black hole has to be spinning,” Miller-Jones said. 

What is also strange about this black hole is that it was probably not formed in a supernova. It is thought to have been the demon spawn of a star remnant that collapsed directly into a black hole after winds blew away most of it mass. Because the mass of a black hole depends on the mass of the star it once was, its recalculated mass, speed, and distance can help scientists rethink the evolution of massive stars that eventually meet their doom as black holes.

That’s the thing about black holes. When you think one mystery is solved, it just spawns more and more and more.

M.O.D.O.K. TV series’ stop-motion animation is a tribute to Jack Kirby: ‘Bigness’ in 3D @ Syfy Wire

If you’re not a hard-core comics fan, then the name M.O.D.O.K. probably just looks like gibberish to you. However, Marvel fans know the name is synonymous with the blustery villain saddled with a freakishly large noggin that matches his outsized ambition. However, his effectiveness at the bad guy game is lacking.

For comedy writers Patton Oswalt and Jordan Blum, M.O.D.O.K’s look and sad-sack reality was a storytelling jackpot. And they told Marvel as much when they pitched the obscure  character as the center of what is now Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K., Hulu’s new 10-episode, stop-motion animation series coming in May. 

At Hulu’s Television Critics Association winter press day today, Oswalt and Blum talked to reporters about their angle on the character. “He’s this weird, oddity and that’s baked into the character,” Blum said. “He’s aware he’s not an A-lister and it drives him insane!”

Marvel's M.O.D.O.K. (Credit: Hulu)

Blum said that playing with the fact that this super villain (in his head) has a huge ego riddled with self doubt was a font of comedy gold. “To explore that with his family and work lent itself to the show,” Blum continued. “Creating a show around that excited us.”

As did the fact that the stop-motion animation style, most recognized in shows like Robot Chicken or films made by Laika Animation Studio, came out of the M.O.D.O.K.’s comic creator, Jack Kirby.

Oswalt said, “I had always read Marvel comics and M.O.D.O.K was drawn by Kirby with these huge features and big expressions. We felt stop-motion would capture that bigness. M.O.D.O.K has to exist in a three dimensional world.”

While the two writers admit Marvel had not expected a series pitch around this character, they understood what they wanted to do within a comedy series immediately. “If anyone understands this character, it’s Marvel,” Blum laughed.

**UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL THURSDAY, FEB. 25 AT 1 PM PT **

Oswalt continued, “They love how weird their characters are. And they loved that [director] James Gunn put Howard the Duck in his Guardians of the Galaxy tag.” 

“And Guardians is a perfect example,” Blum said about how obscure characters, like them and M.O.D.O.K, can launch into the mainstream. “No one knew Groot or Rocket before that movie. All the Marvel character have potential, but it’s just finding the best vehicle for them.”

Oswalt said the series is set up as a sitcom around M.O.D.O.K.’s traditional family life and smokescreen boring job, but it definitely pushes boundaries with language and violence, which he said they take to "Monty Python levels" of satire and silliness. 

The two also teased fans of the Marvel comics world that they should be prepared for plenty of character surprises, and guest voices too. “We pull [story and characters] from everywhere but mostly the comics which is the source of the show,” Blum shared. "In the vein of LEGO Batman or the Spider-verse, they let us play with the big toys and A-list and D-list [characters]." He admitted they had Marvel character handbooks in the writer’s room that they referenced constantly for populating the series. "It was exciting to build our own version of the Marvel universe.”

Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. drops May 21 on Hulu. 


We Should All Be More Like Los Espookys' Inner Demon @ io9

In Los Espookys—an HBO comedy from Fred Armisen, Julio Torres, and Ana Fabrega—a group of horror movie-obsessed friends come to the realization that all the time they spend waiting around for life to happen could be better used turning their passion for jump scares into money-making opportunities.

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Netflix nabs Skyscraper director for Jake Gyllenhaal, Jessica Chastain film based on Tom Clancy’s The Division @ Syfy Wire

We’ve known for a while that Netflix had recruited Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain to fight the good fight in a live-action movie based on Ubisoft’s post-apocalyptic video game hit Tom Clancy’s The Division. But thanks to a late scheduling conflict, there’s now a new director stepping in to replace David Leitch (Deadpool 2, Hobbs & Shaw), who’d long been attached to the project. 

Deadline reports that Rawson Marshall Thurber, who directed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in 2018’s action thriller Skyscraper, has boarded The Division movie project in Leitch’s absence, though Leitch will continue to stay on as producer. Leitch reportedly had to break away from directing duty on The Division in order to focus on other current film projects, including the upcoming action movie Bullet Train starring Brad Pitt.

Ubisoft North America on YouTube

Thurber inherits a high-stakes project that puts its stars in the dystopian, post-pandemic aftermath of a plague-ravaged America. Based on the hugely successful Ubisoft-published 2016 game from developer Massive Entertainment, Netflix previously revealed that the movie will unfold in the same New York City ruins that players explored in the video game. 

Gyllenhaal and Chastain’s characters still haven’t been disclosed, but just as in the game, the film will follow society’s rapid collapse into lawlessness, when a viral pandemic races through the population after being laced into paper currency at the height of the Black Friday pre-Christmas shopping season. Uninfected survivors who’ve previously prepped for a world-shaking catastrophic scenario must band together in a paramilitary attempt to restore order, all while dodging sinister new threats that’ve cropped up to seize power.

Per Deadline, The Division movie comes from Leitch and Kelly McCormick’s 87North Productions, Gyllenhaal’s Nine Stories, Chastain’s Freckle Films, Thurber’s Bad Version, and Ubisoft Film and Television. Rafe Judkins (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) had previously been reported to be adapting the screenplay, while the new report indicates Leitch will be co-writing the script with Ellen Shanman (The Hidden Girl). The film doesn't have a premiere date as of yet.


George R.R. Martin's 'In the Lost Lands' Movie Finds Milla Jovovich and Dave Bautista @ io9

Don’t panic if you haven’t heard of it before. “In the Lost Lands” is only a short story George R.R. Martin published in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine back in 1985, but that isn’t stopping Hollywood from turning it into a new fantasy movie, courtesy of Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista and longtime cinema…

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Leave the + Alone Already @ io9

Why has something that’s become synonymous with streaming seemingly so controversial?

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A New Handmaid's Tale Season 4 Teaser Brings Us Rebellion and a Release Date @ io9

In this latest peek at the upcoming fourth season of The Handmaid’s Tale, we see that Gilead is teetering on the brink of civil war at last—and June (Elisabeth Moss) is leading the charge. She’s got the support of a growing rebel army and, from the sounds of it, the rest of the world is finally rallying to her cause.

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The Pentagon Sent a Pizza Box-Sized Solar Panel Into Space, But I'm Sure Everything Is Fine @ io9

Here is a completely normal and totally not-nefarious thing that is happening: Scientists from the Pentagon sent a solar panel about the size of a pizza box up to space to test if it’s possible to send extraterrestrial electricity back to Earth.

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Important Toy News: Batman gets squishy, He-Man rides again, and more! @ Syfy Wire

Welcome back to Important Toy News, the SYFY WIRE column that shows you all the best and coolest happenings in the world of amazing toys and collectibles for the week.

So hold on tight to your money as your coinage and bills do their weekly wallet dive and transform into shelf candy on the way down. Because seriously — we have some mind-blowing toy goodies on the way. Join me, your resident if not favorite Toy Journalist, while we dive back into the toy box for another adventure down the rabbit hole that is new toys and collectibles announcements.

And this week, Iron Studios is celebrating the 20th anniversary (wow, where does time go?) of Harry Potter's theatrical debut.

Credit: Iron Studios

HARRY POTTOY

Wearing their original school uniforms, Iron Studios presents the young Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley as they first appeared in theaters in the 2001 movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (or Sorcerer's Stone, depending on where you live). Faithful to the features of actors Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Emma Watson as Hermione, and Rupert Grint as Ron, these three 1/10-scale statues form a diorama that celebrates the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter's movie debut and they can be displayed both individually and together.

Each one costs $99.99 — You can check out the entire Harry Potter collection from Iron Studios right now on their official website.

Credit: Super7

TOYNAGE MUTOY NINJA TOYTLES

Super7 is bringing on more awesome Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fun and excitement with the newest wave of ReAction Figures (wave three, to be exact). Just like our favorite Turtles when fresh pizza arrives, Super7 knows you can't get enough of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle 3.75-inch ReAction figures!

Figures included in wave three are Sewer Surfer Mike, Samurai Leonardo, a Busted Foot Soldier, and even Casey Jones! Each one costs $18 and is available directly from Super7.

Credit: Mezco Toyz

MIGHTOY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS

Mezco Toyz wrapped its first fully online event called Mezco Toyzfair 2021 and the reveals were simply awesome all around.

The highlights, if you ask me, were the two biggest surprises of the show: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Green Ranger in the One:12 Collective, and comic book-style Destro from G.I. Joe. What makes these reveals so great is first and foremost, the fact that Hasbro is willing to license out these fan-loved classic properties to higher-end toy makers. While Power Rangers fans recently got to see some premium MMPR figures on their way out from Threezero in Asia, it's nice to see domestically owned toymakers locally take a crack at these beloved characters. As a Green Ranger collector myself, it is very much appreciated!

While there is no preordering information available yet, seeing the official announcement via Mezco was reason enough to celebrate!

Credit: Mattel

MASTOYS OF THE UNIVERSE

Speaking of toymakers taking it virtual (we're all feeling the absence of Toy Fair this year!), Mattel held a virtual event this week where new toy announcements and highlights were revealed, and while we're stoked to see more Hot Wheels and the five billionth version of UNO on the way, it's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe that's getting fans all riled up!

Remember, in the past few years Mattel has announced two new animated series on the way (one simply titled He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and the other which is the adult-geared series run by Kevin Smith called Masters of the Universe: Revelations). And somewhere out there, fans can look forward to the live-action version happening eventually.

While there is an internet-leaked picture bopping around the toy playground of the Revelations toyline, Mattel's virtual event gave MOTU fans a first glimpse of the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe toy line. (This is different from the Origins toy line launched last year which is an homage to the original '80s toy line by Mattel.

Exhale — are you confused yet?

Looking at the above picture from the new toy line, we can see there are some crossovers with the 1996 cartoon and the 2002 aesthetic. Except now Evil-Lyn has unabashedly returned looking like... a water bender?

Credit: Moose Toys

BATMANHANDLED

Relieve stress by squeezing your favorite superheroes! Some of the most recognizable superheroes in the superhero-verse are joining The Heroes of Goo Jit Zu by Moose Toys!

In an all-new licensing partnership with DC, Batman, Flash, Superman, and Joker have been reimagined in their stretchiest, squishiest, gooiest iterations to be dubbed Heroes of Goo Jit Zu DC. You can order your favorite smooshable DC characters today for only $12.99 each on Amazon.

Credit: Funko Games

DARKWING DUCKO POP!

We've reached the end, my game-loving friends?! That's right, because Funko Games busted out the goods this week with some fantastic new game announcements.

First up we have Darkwing Duck in a wonderful Funkoverse expansion set. The Funkoverse will also get "curiouser and curiouser" in 2021 with Funkoverse: Alice in Wonderland 100 2-Pack (in stores 4/1). Signature games like ESPN Trivia Night, Fast & Furious: Highway Heist, and Disney Princess See the Story showcase fun, interactive board games for the whole family. Funko Games continues to give fans and board game lovers a reason to stay pumped and in the game — stick with them for all of 2021 for even more fun and fantastic reveals.

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