It isn’t just Transformersthat’s celebrating a milestone this holiday weekend. Back in 2012, Sony returned to Marvel Comics’ most popular hero with The Amazing Spider-Man, a reboot completely separate from the original Sam Raimi trilogy, for better and for worse. And ten years later, the two-film franchise (well, two-and-a-half, technically) has managed to find its own place in the increasingly crowded superhero space, just likely not the one it intended.
The original Amazing certainly had the odds stacked against it: not only was it replacing a Spider-Man 4that fans of Raimi’s saga had been hoping for, it was coming out at a time when reboots were still finding their footing. For every Star Trek or Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, there were at least three of The Thing or Total Recall reboots. (Or, well, the aforementioned Transformers.) Despite all that, and coming a little over a month after the first Avengers movie took over the entire planet, Amazing 1 managed to get both solid reviews and a $758 million global box office, securing this Spider-Man’s cinematic future, if only for a short time before Sony finally struck up a shared custody deal with Marvel Studios for Tom Holland’s MCU Peter Parker.
Whether you want to view this as an observation or an insult, the Amazing duology is basically the CW-fictation of Spider-Man. (Would it have just been called Spider?) Director Marc Webb, previously best known for the 2009 romcom 500 Days of Summer, plays up the melodrama of Peter Parker’s civilian life whereas Raimi’s trilogy had an even split between Peter and Spider-Man. As played by then-rising star Andrew Garfield, the Amazing Peter is a more moody, openly messy teenager than the quietly tortured soul that Tobey Maguire spent three movies and several pensive gazes enchanting audiences with during the 2000s. With the way he stammers and cracks wise with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy, Amazing feels more at home being a romantic story about a superhero rather than a superhero story about a romance, should that make any sense. All that angst and repetition due to failing to let lessons sink in are part and parcel for multiple CW shows; across multiple episodes and seasons, the frustration can be spread out. Not so for a feature film, which is what ultimately doomed 2014's Amazing Spider-Man 2 in particular.
Garfield brings some great physicality to the fights against Rhys Ifans’ Lizard and looks amazing when swinging through New York, but it’s the YA angst underpinning everything where he really excels. For all the guff that gets thrown this at this particular Peter, he succeeds at feeling like he feels he’s constantly alone and just wants to connect with someone. It’s a very teenager-like mindset, and one that he’s still unable to shake off, even when we catch up with the character again in Spider-Man: No Way Home. As he winds up in the reality of MCU Peter and manages to form some kind of connection with both that Peter and his cinematic predecessor—both of whom have gone through equally chaotic events as himself in their lives—he can’t entirely let himself relate to them. It’s to the point that Tobey’s Peter has to actively call him on it and offer Amazing Peter a moment to just let himself be appreciated, which he doesn’t really take.
Spider-Man: No Way Home | Tobey Maguire, “You’re amazing.”, to Andrew Garfield
Of the three Spider-Man eras that have existed in our current lifetime, it’s the Amazing duology that’s clearly had the roughest go of them all. But in our current age of critically re-evaluating people and things we previously wrote off or outright hated, it’s the had the easiest time winning folks over. Perhaps we’ve become more kinder to different takes on the superhero genre, maybe this iteration of Peter Parker just offers more to work with on a character level since prior to No Way Home, Holland’s Peter could feel more like an audience POV fanboy to some. Whether it’s for those reasons, or the simple act of being a contrarian, the two movies have found their audience, and its stars have continued to find success. Since these films wrapped up, there’s been no shortage of appreciation for Garfield, who had a really strong 2021 between No Way Home and Tick, Tick...Boom!. Similarly, Stone has built up a strong resume over the past decade, while also managing to navigate the franchise game via Dreamworks’ The Croods and Disney’s Cruella. With how blockbusters can often treat rising stars so poorly, watching Garfield, Stone, and Dane DeHaan—who very briefly, served the reboot series’ Harry Osborn—continue to thrive in the decade since has been good to see play out, if nothing else.
Even as the Amazing franchise was just getting off the ground, it was a little unclear how long it would go on, and that hasn’t entirely changed in the decade since. We’re now in an age where any former superhero actor could wind up coming back, something that Sony is actively aware of as they try to figure out how to sketch out their future in the superhero genre beyond Spidey’s animated protégé and goofy dark counterpart. But maybe an Amazing Spider-Man 3 should always stay as a “what could’ve been” rather than a tangible thing. Amazing 2 ended with its Peter prepared to go out and do the work again, and No Way Home served as a fitting epilogue that left him feeling a little lighter than when we last saw him. For a franchise that was at its best during the quieter moments, it’s fine, and perhaps even fitting, that Amazing doesn’t conclude on a cinematic swing through New York, but with its Peter finally getting the family that he’s always wanted.
Taika Waititi has made it his goal with his Thor movies to Do The Most Possible with his take on the God of Thunder, in a way few other Marvel movies do with their own heroes. Love and Thunder appears to be following on from Ragnarok in fine form in this regard, with both its Thors—and if this taste of the soundtrack is any indication, we’re in for a treat.
Marvel’s released the first sample from Michael Giacchino’s soundtrack for the film, and just like his work on the first Doctor Strange and the Spider-Man trilogy, it’s a) ludicrously titled, and b) pretty damn solid. “Mama’s Got a Brand New Hammer” certainly feels rather evocative of our newest member of the Thor Force in the movie—Natalie Portman’s returning Jane Foster, now the Mighty Thor—but really, it also feels very much in line with the sort of ‘80s glam rock vibes this movie’s been saturated with from the moment we saw a glimpse of it.
Mama’s Got a Brand New Hammer (From “Thor: Love and Thunder”/Audio Only)
The transition from the more-self-serious choral, almost solemn orchestral work to big synth beats and symphonic rock is likewise very much like the evolving tones of the Thor films, but also? It’s just really fun. If music was something you could get sprayed on the side of a van like a Frazetta piece, it would sound like this. I really hope we get to see Jane hammer the hell (or Hela) out of some dudes with this rocking in the background.
Not long to go before we find out if that’s the case: Thor: Love and Thunder hits theaters this week, on July 8.
As part of a recent press roundtable interview, io9 got a chance to ask Westworld executive producer, writer, and showrunner Alison Schapker about how season four subverts some of the show’s best-known tropes. (HBO Max’s own marketing hasn’t hidden the fact that Aaron Paul’s Caleb and Thandiwe Newton’s Maeve will be paying a visit to a 1920s gangster-themed Delos park this season, so no spoiler fears here!) We also asked Schapker about how the show’s writers decided how much of the show’s past to bring into its present, while also moving the story forward.
“I feel like in some ways, the show’s metaphors really do apply to the writing process,” she said. “We are, kind of every season, taking a loop and that loop is getting bigger, and it almost starts to feel maze-like a little bit in terms of the obstacles to that path. But I think we wanted to tell a bigger story this season; [creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy] really had this vision. They could tell you what all the seasons are about. And this one very much was about now that Hosts have left the park, now that we freed ourselves from this kind of—I want to say, like a more incipient moment of being controlled by algorithms and big data and all that stuff. We think maybe we put the genie back in the bottle, but can you ever? And if you can’t, where will this go? Where could this go? Those are very much questions that have an almost loop-like quality, but hopefully more like in that spirally sense of you’re getting somewhere new with each season’s go-round. I think in season four, hopefully fans will go on a ride, and I think we do go somewhere new and bold.”
Also present for this interview: Paul, who joined Westworld for season three’s post-park storyline, which had Caleb racing around a dystopian cityscape for the most part. This season, Caleb finally gets that season one-season two experience of seeing Delos’ idea of immersive entertainment up close. “I was so excited to finally go into a park!,” he said, calling himself a “crazy fan” of the series.
Schapker picked up his thread there. “And that question of what is a park? What happens when the dynamics of the park exceed the park, but then do all roads kind of lead back there in various forms? Those are all things we’re conscious of. And I think we’re consciously trying to play with the tropes of what Westworld or a park is, a theme park is, and the fact that a company would take shortcuts. You know, and I think you see that in the park this season, hopefully in fun ways.”
New episodes of Westworld arrive Sundays on HBO Max.
Star Wars might have only just got done with one TV series, but it’s already on to the next—and Andor might be one of the most intriguing shows in the galaxy far, far away so far, if only for the immense span of time it’s going to cover.
Chronology in Star Wars shows (and hell, the franchise in general) has always been a little weird—the passage of time hasn’t really mattered so much in shows like Clone Wars or Rebels, set during a very specific timeframe of events, or The Mandalorian, which has a much broader, unexplored setting in the post-Return of the Jedi world. Obi-Wan Kenobi, for example, was set over a handful of days or weeks at most, which is wild considering how much actually goes on. But the saga’s next live-action series, Rogue One prequel Andor, is going to be very different: across two seasons, it’s covering five years of time for its titular Rebel spy, all the way up to where we meet Cassian in the movie. But it’s going to cover them... unevenly, to say the least, according to showrunner Tony Gilroy.
The first season of Andor will cover approximately a year in Cassian’s life as an operative for the Rebellion, itself about five years before the events of Rogue One, across 12 episodes. Its second, however, will use the same amount of episodes to cover four years—time jumping ahead every three episodes.
“The scale of the show is so huge,” Gilroy told Empire Magazine in a new interview, conducted at Star Wars Celebration last month. “Directors work in blocks of three episodes, so we did four blocks [in Season 1] of three episodes each. We looked and said, ‘Wow, it’d be really interesting if we come back, and we use each block to represent a year. We’ll move a year closer with each block...’ from a narrative point of view, it’s really exciting to be able to work on something where you do a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and then jump a year.”
It’s going to be very interesting to see just how Andor handles compressing such a vast period of time like this. Will the tone radically change one set of episodes to the next? How much are we going to end up actually seeing of these moments, what happens in between that Cassian will carry on with him as the series’ throughline? It’s especially intriguing considering we’re not really going to get to see that quite yet while season 1 sets the stage for just a single year of storytelling. Time will, it seems, tell.
July’s hefty pile of new sci-fi, fantasy, and horror releases brings lesbian vampires, politically motivated magic, interstellar bounty hunters, a jazz musician who teams up with mecha pilots, mermaids, robots, fairy-tale riffs, and so much more. There’s still plenty of summer reading time left, so what are you waiting for?
Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore
Ten years after a famous magician vanishes onstage, her introverted sister is forced to face the truth about what happened in this tale told both in traditional narration and as transcripts from a podcast that’s digging into the case. (July 5)
Flying the Coop by Lucinda Roy
The Dreambird Chronicles continue in this sequel to The Freedom Race, set in a dystopian version of Washington, D.C. where a young woman must not only deal with systemic racism, but also her newfound ability to fly. (July 5)
The Icarus Plot by Timothy Zahn
A new sci-fi series begins as a one-armed bounty hunter and his partner, an alien with a super-sensitive sense of smell, take an intriguing new job locating a woman and the top-secret project she’s linked to. (July 5)
The Jigsaw Assassin by Catherine Asaro
The Major Bhaajan series continues as the interstellar military officer-turned-private eye takes on a new case, tracking a serial killer who appears to have political motivations. (July 5)
The Key to Fury by Kristin Cast
The Key Series continues as Elodie and Aiden, who’ve escaped the sinister Key Corporation, seek to join the resistance movement working against it—a task that proves tricker than they realize. (July 5)
Master of Furies by Raymond E. Feist
The Firemane fantasy saga concludes as a pair of grieving men seek revenge on the raiders who killed their families, while the pirate known as “the Sea Demon” tracks those who sent the raiders in the first place—and her husband flexes his magical powers with an even greater goal in mind. (July 5)
The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay
An author whose high-school social life revolved around “an extracurricular club for volunteer pallbearers at poorly attended funerals” tries to write a memoir, but experiences strange interference from a particularly spooky friend he met during that period in his life. (July 5)
Silk Fire by Zabé Ellor
In a massive matriarchal city that runs on both magic and technology, a male courtesan plots against his politically powerful father—and accidentally gains dangerous, dragon-fueled powers in the process. (July 5)
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Over three decades, a pair of childhood friends grow up to become hugely successful video game designers in this novel examining “the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect.” (July 5)
Weird Tales: Best of the Early Years 1923-25 edited by Jonathan Maberry and Justin Criado
This collection gathers 13 notable entries from the legendary pulp magazine’s first few years, with horror, sci-fi, and fantasy stories from authors like Harry Houdini and H.P. Lovecraft. (July 5)
Where You Linger by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
This book of interconnected stories introduces vengeful robot assassins, man-eating monsters, a woman seeking shelter from killer rain, and other memorable characters. (July 11)
The Albion Initiative by George Mann
Special agents Newbury and Hobbes return for their final steampunk adventure in this series-concluding tale. (July 12)
August Kitko and the Mechas From Space by Alex White
A jazz pianist becomes an unlikely hero when he’s saved by a group of rebellious mecha pilots who’re taking a stand against their space brethren’s quest to wipe out life on Earth. (July 12)
Barbarian Lover by Ruby Dixon
The Ice Planet Barbarians series continues as a determined-to-stay-single Kira tries to resist the flirty alien who’s caught her eye. (July 12)
Classic Monsters Unleashed edited by James Aquilone
Joe R. Lansdale, F. Paul Wilson, Jonathan Maberry, Ramsey Campbell, and more contribute to this horror anthology reimagining famous monsters from movies, literature, and beyond, including Dracula, the Invisible Man, the Headless Horseman, the Wicked Witch of the West, and others. (July 12)
Eclipse the Moon by Jessie Mihalik
A bounty hunter finds herself in a tight spot—and forced to work closely with an enticing teammate—when she starts investigating a shadowy group that’s trying to start an interstellar war. (July 12)
The Extractionist by Kimberly Unger
In this cyberthriller, a woman whose job revolves around discreetly extracting people from virtual reality meets resistance from her latest target—while in the real world, she starts to realize she herself is being targeted by powerful people. Read an excerpt here. (July 12)
Half Outlaw by Alex Temblador
In this tale filled with magical realism, a woman agrees to participate in a memorial “Grieving Ride” after her uncle, who raised her in the midst of his motorcycle gang, passes away. (July 12)
Hooked by A.C. Wise
The latest dark Peter Pan tale from the author of Wendy, Darling explores what happens when Wendy and Captain Hook meet in London decades after leaving Neverland. (July 12)
Into the Narrowdark by Tad Williams
The third novel in the Last King of Osten Ard series uncovers more royal turmoil, as well as a rampaging army hellbent on resurrecting an evil spirit. (July 12)
The Last Blade Priest by W.P. Wiles
In this fantasy tale, a master builder in a kingdom that’s just lost a war is reluctantly enlisted as a spy, while a priest digs into an occult conspiracy. Both will discover more than they expect about their lives and the future of the world. (July 12)
The Memory in the Blood by Ryan Van Loan
The Fall of the Gods trilogy concludes as the super-powered Buc prepares to make her last stand against the Dead Gods and the religious war that’s destroying the world around her. (July 12)
The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey
After a fisherman rescues a mermaid who’s been kidnapped by tourists, he further helps her as she slowly begins to transform back into a human. (July 12)
The Moonday Letters by Emmi Itäranta
This “part space-age epistolary, part eco-thriller, and love story between two individuals from very different worlds” follows the Earth-born Lumi as she sets out to find the mysteriously missing Sol. (July 12)
The Night Shift by Natalka Burian
Soon after a woman learns that New York City is full of secret shortcuts that allow the user to leap across stretches of time and space, she’s pulled into a missing-person mystery—and discovers her connection to the shortcuts is more personal than she realized. (July 12)
A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers
In this follow-up to A Psalm for the Wild-Built, traveling duoSibling Dex (a monk) and Mosscap (a robot) roam from more rural areas into cities, where new friends and ideas await. (July 12)
They Drown Our Daughters by Katrina Monroe
After she splits from her wife, a woman and her young daughter move to her seaside hometown to stay with her aging mother, where they become entangled in the ghostly legend swirling around a local lighthouse. (July 12)
Upgrade by Blake Crouch
After a man is unexpectedly “upgraded” with new abilities, he realizes he’s part of a larger plan to evolve all of humanity—something he’s uniquely positioned to prevent, once he decides whether or not that’s the right thing to do. (July 12)
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
This retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” follows a retired soldier, a mycologist, and a doctor trying to solve the nature-entwined mystery that’s menacing the troubled Usher family. (July 12)
Avatar, the Last Airbender: The Dawn of Yangchen by F.C. Yee
The Chronicles of Avatar series continues in this origin story for the ultimately powerful Yangchen. Read an excerpt here. (July 19)
The Big Dark Sky by Dean Koontz
Decades after her childhood on a ranch in Montana, a woman is telepathically compelled to return—only to discover she’s not the only one who received the strange psychic message. Even more worrisome, a potential mass murderer lurks among them. (July 19)
The Book of Sand by Mo Hayder
This tale set is in two different worlds: a sand-filled alien planet where a family struggles to survive, and suburban Virginia, where a teen girl starts to realize her apparently ordinary life is not what it seems. (July 19)
Dark Earth by Rebecca Stott
In a ruined Roman settlement circa 500 AD, two sisters and their father live in exile after he’s accused of using dark magic. When he dies, they join a secret community of women plotting against the local warlord. (July 19)
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This tale set on Dr. Moreau’s estate—filled with the mad scientist’s human-animal hybrids—expands the world dreamed up by H.G. Wells by delving into the lives of doctor’s daughter, his right-hand man, and the reckless son of his rich patrons. (July 19)
Heat Wave by TJ Klune
The Extraordinaries trilogy concludes as Nick, Seth, Gibby, and Jazz must grapple with a new hero that crash-lands into Nova City. (July 19)
Ion Curtain by Anya Ow
Amid an interstellar Cold War between the UN and Russia, a Russian who’s spying for the UN and the head of a Russian salvage crew find themselves on the front lines when an alien threat suddenly enters the picture. (July 19)
Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey
A woman returns home at the request of her estranged mother and discovers some suspiciously unsettling reminders of her father, a serial killer who buried his victims on the family property. (July 19)
The Last Storm by Tim Lebbon
In a world where climate change has transformed most of North America into a desert wasteland, a woman who survived a brush with death attempts to construct a rainmaker—not realizing the storms she’ll summon will be supernaturally dangerous. (July 19)
Mary: An Awakening of Terror by Nat Cassidy
In this horror novel, an otherwise ordinary middle-aged woman begins to have visions and hear voices urging her to do terrible things—and soon begins to suspect that a notorious serial killer is somehow reaching out to her. (July 19)
Other Terrors: An Inclusive Anthology edited by Vince A. Liaguno and Rena Mason
This anthology spotlights “authors from historically excluded backgrounds telling terrifying tales of what it means to be, or merely to seem, ‘other.’” Contributors include Tananarive Due, Stephen Graham Jones, Alma Katsu, and many more. (July 19)
Priest of Crowns by Peter McLean
The War for the Rose Throne series continues as the disgraced Piety tries to get his life together but must face his dark past to do so, while Vogel begins to regret a dark choice he made in his own recent past. (July 19)
Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons by Ben Riggs
This non-fiction book written by a role-playing game historian takes a deep dive into the history of Tactical Studies Rules (TSR) and its most famous creation. (July 19)
Wake of War by Zac Topping
In a far more dystopian version of America, a rebellion called the Revolutionary Front takes over Salt Lake City, setting the stage for a clash with a disaffected U.S. military. (July 19)
Youngblood by Sasha Laurens
At a swanky boarding school for vampires, former foes Kat and Taylor are forced to put their differences aside when they’re assigned as roommates—then become an unlikely detective team when they uncover a sinister secret. (July 19)
The Book of Gothel by Mary McMyne
This retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale unfolds from the perspective of the (misunderstood) witch who places the long-haired lass in the tower (for some very compelling reasons). (July 26)
The Eye of Scales by Tracy Hickman and Richard Garriott
The fantasy series based on the Shroud of the Avatar game continues as former Obsidian soldier Aren Bendis uses his magical sword to try and spark a rebellion. But is he controlling the sword... or is the sword controlling him? (July 26)
A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys
In 2083, aliens arrive on Earth to convince humanity to leave their climate change-ravaged planet and seek a new beginning in the stars, or else. But is Earth really beyond saving? And even beyond that, can humankind figure out a united way to respond to their interstellar visitors? (July 26)
Nightmare Fuel by Nina Nesseth
This non-fiction book uses horror movies as a way to examine “the strange and often unexpected science of fear through the lenses of psychology and physiology,” with explorations of films like Hereditary, The Exorcist, and more. (July 26)
The Nova Incident by Dan Moren
The Galactic Cold War series continues as Simon Kovalic and his spy team investigate a terrorist bombing. (July 26)
Primeval Fire by C.T. Rwizi
The Scarlet Odyssey series concludes with this tale set in the chaotic aftermath of Salo’s death... and the even greater chaos that erupts when some of his sorcerer allies decide to resurrect him. (July 26)
A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadow
Two royal scions from neighboring kingdoms are pressed into an arranged marriage—a far from ideal situation that at least acknowledges the fact that they’re both gay men. They’ll have to learn to trust each other (and maybe fall in love?) when they’re targeted by a murderous foe. (July 26)
Three Miles Down: A Novel of First Contact in the Tumultuous 1970s by Harry Turtledove
When a marine biologist grad student joins a top-secret government project at the height of the 1970s Watergate scandal/conspiracy theory era, he finds he’s the only person on the mission suited to handle its intended purpose: orchestrating the first human-alien contact. (July 26)
The Valkyrie’s Daughter by Tiana Warner
A stable hand dreams of joining the valkyries in battle, but she’ll need to test her loyalties and join forces with an oddly alluring fallen valkyrie if she wants any chance of achieving her goal. (July 26)
Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen
A woman who uses her prophetic gifts strategically—and not always truthfully—finds her position in peril when a new ruler prepares to take the throne. But things get even more dangerous when her lies set off an ancient curse that could doom the entire kingdom. (July 26)
When Stars Come Out by Scarlett St. Clair
Being the new kid at school is rough enough even when you don’t have magical abilities—but that’s what the heroine of this new fantasy must deal with, along with a bizarre murder at her new school and the fact that a sinister order is hunting her to exploit her powers. (July 26)
Stealing Infinity by Alyson Noël
In this contemporary fantasy, a student with a peculiar gift for using time gets kicked out of high school (and arrested), then decides to try their luck at a “a remote, off-the-grid school owned and operated by an inscrutable billionaire tech guru.” What could possibly go wrong? (July 28)
Is Westworld even Westworld if it’s not trying to break your brain? It’s a valid question, and I think “no” would be a valid answer. But since the show left the park at the end of season two to explore the dystopia of the real world, the third season felt like everything was a mystery until the final pair of episodes, which left the answers feeling either unsatisfying or unearned. Now that season four has arrived, it seems clear the show knows it can’t be completely baffling and must parcel out some answers to be satisfying. Which, while great, is not nearly as satisfying as where the show goes.
Actually, it’s kind of impressive that “Well Enough Alone” is as great as it is when it primarily focuses on only three characters and two storylines, being William (Ed Harris) the Host (minion of the human-hating, Dolores-corrupted control unit inside the body of Charlotte Hale) and then the further adventures of Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) and Caleb (Aaron Paul). There are a few brief check-ins with Dolores lookalike Christina (Evan Rachel Wood) where she hears an unhoused person on the street ranting about a tower, much like last week’s stalker-turned-suicide Peter did in the premiere. Then Christina checks in her work’s archives and discovers she very much did write a story about a man named Peter who lost everything, became obsessed with a woman, and killed himself. Finally, she visits the hospital Peter left his money to, only to find out that the hospital has long been abandoned, and the annex’s wing funded by Peter and dedicated to him was built even earlier than that.
It’s a mystery to be sure—along with whatever the hell Christina’s relationship to Dolores is—but the other two storylines are full of answers, beginning with William visiting Clementine (Angela Sarafyan) the Host, who’s been living quietly in a Spanish-speaking country… until the Host in Black tracks her down, demands to know where Maeve is, and then shoots Clementine in the head when she doesn’t answer.
Soon, Maeve and Caleb visit a senator and his wife only to discover they’re both secretly Hosts working for William and Hale (Tessa Thompson), but who have been upgraded so Maeve can’t use her tech magic to mentally shut them down, at least not easily. The Host wife is killed, and Maeve searches through the Host senator’s memory banks to discover William had the original senator killed; the wife was about to be murdered too, except Hale arrives and ominously said to bring her to the barn out back, as “livestock” for an experiment the Host leader wanted to try.
Maeve and Caleb head to the barn, where they only see the results of this experiment, and they are bleak. The senator’s wife has been butchering all of her horses; when Maeve and Caleb snap her out of it, she doesn’t remember doing it. But then she gives the duo a message: they’re invited to a meeting as their “old friend” Don Giovanni wants to meet them. When Caleb declines the wife’s request to put her out of her misery, she attacks Caleb with a knife until Maeve shoots her in the head.
If I had to guess, Hale was trying to figure out a way to program and control humans just as humans had programmed and controlled the Hosts. It wasn’t a full success in that the senator’s wife’s mind was broken by the experiment, but obviously Hale has no concerns about collateral damage, especially to humans.
After a clearly reprogrammed Clementine turns away an angry Deputy Assistant for Counterterrorism from meeting with William, none other than the Vice-President of the United States personally comes to visit the Delos head honcho on his golf course with a polite request to knock off his activities, such as buying the Hoover Dam and surrounding properties. (The Veep implies that William is building a new park, but this time in America instead of safely offshore where its depravity and mayhem can be more easily ignored.) When William unsurprisingly tells him to blow it out his ass (I’m paraphrasing), the Veep threatens to leak information that would ruin the Man in Black… but then he turns around and sees Clementine has killed his Secret Service bodyguards, and William smashes his head with a golf club. As for the Deputy Assistant, Hale later shows up in his car, holds him down, and lets a fly crawl in the man’s eyeball. When the Veep and Assistant show up later, they—or, obviously, their Host replacements—have approved of everything William has been doing, and Hale’s plan proceeds forthwith.
Although the role of the flies is still baffling—and extremely horrifying—and we don’t know exactly what Hale’s specifically planning, she does let us know what she’s hoping to achieve: to make a world where her “children” are safe from humans. She doesn’t want to kill all humans or replace all humans with Hosts, as that would be pointless—but she’ll kill as many humans in power and replace them with Hosts under her control as necessary. And she tells all this to the real William (or probably real William, but definitely the same William who decided his mission was to kill all Hosts and got his throat slit in the season three finale). He’s alive and thoroughly trapped in some kind of sci-fi suit held by one of the Host-making rings. And then Hale drugs him and puts him back Westworld’s equivalent of carbon freezing.
It’s good stuff, but it can’t match the thrill of what happens when Maeve and Caleb attend the mysterious party in Los Angeles. It’s a fancy, ritzy cocktail bar full of equally fancy, ritzy humans, but no Hosts. The two of them are baffled until the bar suddenly lurches, and Maeve quickly understands exactly what’s happening—they’re on a train to a park. And not just any park, but a brand-new park built by William based on the 1920s and the mobsters that dominated it.
There’s so much to like about this! It was a surprise to discover Maeve and Caleb had unknowingly entered a train to a park, it was unnerving to realize this very secret train was in downtown Los Angeles, and seeing the 1920s skyline was a thrill, even if we knew a visit to this particular park was on the way. But what I especially liked was bringing back Lili Simmons (who played “New Clem” after the original Clementine was removed from the park in season one) in the role of the Host who greets park newcomers—like the character played by Talulah Riley who initially welcomed young William and Logan back in season one. She leads Maeve and Caleb in a replica of the same registration room we saw in the series’ second episode, except this time it has more 1920s-appropriate clothes and weapons. However, it still has the same choice: White hat, or black hat? Caleb’s choice: “I’m not really a hat person.”
I don’t think Westworld can be truly judged until the end of the season, as the episodes usually end up totaling more than the sum of their parts. That said, I’ve really enjoyed these first two episodes of season four, and since they make up 25 percent of the eight-episode season, that’s not insignificant. I’m grateful we’re getting enough answers to feel the story is truly progressing, while still being tantalized with enough mysteries to keep viewers invested in finding out what’s going on. The show has struck an excellent balance between the two, leaving viewers satisfied but also tantalized. I don’t know if the season’s big mysteries—mainly, of course, what the hell is up with Christina—will be worth it at the end, but I have hope. See you next week... in Mobland.
Mobworld? Mafiaworld? Gangsterworld? The Roaring’20sworld? I’m guessing Mobworld.
The Senator tells Maeve and Caleb that there are currently 249 Hosts like him in the world. Do you think he just means Hosts in total, or Hosts commanded by Hale to bring about her “New World”? I assume the latter, which is extremely bad news.
Ed Harris is the MVP of the episode, just massively entertaining from start to finish. When the (real) senator tells his the old “Happy wife, happy life!” saw, the way he utters “My wife’s dead” is perfection.
I’ll credit this to the writers, but the golf scene is also perfect. The Vice-President is chiding William when the latter hits a hole-in-one. The Veep’s jaw drops, completely impressed with the shot. As the conversation escalates, William hits a second hole-in-one, and the Veep stares at it in disbelief. And when the Veep starts making outright threats, William hits a third hole-in-one—and the Vice-President slowly realizes no human could make three holes-in-one in a row. So good!
It was cool to see the hat choice back, but I don’t think many people wore white hats back in the 1920s. Certainly not nearly as much as black.
The Cyberpunk 2077train keeps going, despite its rocky protracted launch. Now that the game’s been patched into a playable (and enjoyable) state, and DLC is on the horizon, it’s the perfect time for Netflix to release that Edgerunners tie-in anime they offered us a first look at last month during their week long TUDUM event.
Studio Trigger, handling production on the series alongside CD Projekt Red and best known for Promare and Little Witch Academia, revealed the opening titles to Edgerunners on Saturday during their panel at Anime Expo in Los Angeles. Set to “This Ffire” by Franz Ferdinand, the opening is a visual feast—like their work often is—and is heavy on the yellow that Cyberpunk has become infamously known for. Similar to the opening for last year’s Super Crooks, everything in the opening just looks and sounds great, so much that you will likely not skip the opening during the series’ 10-episode first season. And if that doesn’t catch your attention, the series’ soundtrack being handled by Silent Hill’s Akira Yamaoka likely will.
Edgerunners is set in in the same universe as the game, and by extension Mike Pondsmith and R. Talsorian Games’ tabletop RPG. The anime tells the story of David Martinez (voiced by Zach Aguilar of Demon Slayer fame). As a street kid looking to survive in Night City, David opts to become a mercenary outlaw, aka a cyberpunk. The setup sounds more or less like that of 2077, with David being an actual character with history in the world of Night City rather than 2077's protagonist V, who the player had to create from top to bottom. The series will also focus on a netrunner named Lucy, and the two will inevitably cross paths at some point during the season.
Cyberpunk: Edgerunners will hit Netflix in September.
Illumination’s Minions—those goggle-wearing, babbling yellow monstrosities—have very clearly outgrown the Despicable Me franchise they first appeared in all the way back in 2010. Beyond their titular spinoff movie releasing in 2015 and earned $1.16 billion at the box office, the creatures have become a cultural fixture unto themselves, for better and for worse. It’s not surprising that this weekend’s sequel—The Rise of Gru, which is also a prequel to the first Despicable—takes the box office, but it’s probably a surprise that it’s already shaping up to be the Despicable franchise’s best outing.
As reported by Variety, the film’s expected to lock in an Independence Day four-day record of $129.2M before the holiday weekend is said and done. Right now, its $108.5M gross (at time of writing) for a typical three-day weekend already makes it the highest domestic start for an animated film since Frozen 2 back in 2019. It also has a pretty good chance of becoming Illumination’s highest domestic opener ever, should it beat the $115.7 three-day open of the original Minions back in 2015. Since there isn’t any real kids competition around until Thor and Thor hit theaters on Friday, the Minions have the week all to themselves. And honestly, even when Marvel’s next big outing hits, the Minions may still put up a pretty good fight against the two gods of thunder.
Outside of Minions, Tom Cruise continues to fly high with Top Gun: Maverick. Today is Cruise’s birthday, and the sequel to the 1986 film has continued to have a surprising amount of longevity behind it. Its domestic total is now $571M, and overall crossed the $1 billion mark earlier in the week. Now at $1.15B, the film is Cruise’s best at the box office, and remains both the highest-grossing film of 2022 and the second film in the pandemic era to hit $1B era. Paramount’s making an active effort to push the film during the holiday weekend, so the film will likely go even further before its theatrical run comes to an end, whenever that may be.
Ever since the late 1990s, we’ve been living in an era of IP-focused filmmaking that’s proceeded to get more elaborate and louder with each year. There are plenty of genre films one could point as being important or iconic in some way, from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Manfilms to Batman Begins and Independence Day. And believe it or not, one such film that likely deserves that status is the original Transformersmovie.
The first of the live action films released on this day in 2007, and served as Hasbro and Paramount’s first real attempt at bringing the property to theaters after the box office failure of the 1986 film. Directed by Michael Bay and starring then-relative rising stars Shia LeBeouf and Megan Fox, the film opened to solid enough reviews and was a massive box office success, becoming the fifth highest-grossing film of 2007 and grossing $709.7 million worldwide. It would be an understatement to say how much of a big deal this movie was for its time, and its marketing reflected that. Hasbro partnered with 200 companies to promote the film in 70 countries, and Bay directed tie-in promos for Burger King, General Motors, and Pepsi. They absolutely wanted this film to be a hit, and it paid off, becoming a massive franchise that spawned plenty of toys, tie-in games, and so on. There was even plans for a Transformers Cinematic Universe...until there wasn’t.
It isn’t a stretch to say that the now 15-year-old film is iconic, even though in this case, it’s more of a backhanded compliment. Both the first Transformers and its sequels have consistently become used as an example of what Hollywood can get wrong about adapting beloved IP. It’s barely interested in the mythology of its source material or the characters that the camera’s pointed at, and they’re rife with enough product placement to make you wish you could install an ad blocker into your eyes. Right from the start, it’s not hard to imagine that Bay’s only using the Autobots and Decepticons as a way to create solidly done action and chase scenes that more often than not involve the military, which he’s never failed in his career to make look gorgeous. And what surely made these films so hated is that there just wasn’t any way to get away from them. While there was plenty of other material outside of the films for fans to get into—the comics, the multiple cartoons, and video games, including the Cybertron series—to the larger world, Bay’s version of the Transformers was likely their only experience with the property. Before there was Riverdale and the MCU, the question of “why is this still going?!” was directed primarily at the Transformers, nearly all of which made absurd amounts of money at the box office despite middling to negative reviews.
It also isn’t wrong to say Bay’s first film was pretty influential, as well. If it weren’t for the success of that original movie, we likely wouldn’t have had other toy movies and shows come out around the same time as the franchise. Fom Lego and Battleship to G.I. Joe,twice, and potentially He-Man and She-Ra, all of them were trying to get in on the pie that the Robots in Disguise started baking. Without the Transformers movies and their dogged determination to focus on spectacle over substance, would we have so many action films that devote the final 1/3 of their runtimes to effects, explosions, and slow motion? Likely not.
Despite how hated these films are, there have been some bright spots: the original film is still pretty solid overall, with more restraint than its successors. Similarly, 2018's semi-soft reboot Bumblebee managed to strike a nice balance between character-driven heart and flashy nostalgia spectacle. (It likely helps that it’s the one film that broke the Transformers trend and was directed by Travis Knight rather than Bay.) Seeing these films in theaters with friends usually makes them more tolerable, and they’re good enough time sinks to sit through at home when they inevitably hit broadcast rotation on FX. For a handful of the sequels—more specifically Dark of the Moon, and Age of Extinction—the chaotic third act VFX blowout can be pretty impressive to watch.
And even though these movies truly do not giveth a shit about their source material, there’s something just fascinatingly bonkers about the lore they’ve built on their own throughout the films. (I still have questions about Bumblebee in WWII and how the Transformers made friends with Harriet Tubman. No really, this is a thing that happens.) These films are annoyingly stupid, but somewhat endearing because of it; even if a scene or moment in question is cringeworthy, there is likely something in one or more of these films that you somehow have managed to remember, despite your best efforts to forget it. Admit it, you probably still recall those two annoying racist Autobots from the second movie.
So yeah, a happy birthday to Transformers. Outside of Bumblebee and sections of the other movies, you’re not a particularly “good” franchise. But you’re important, in your own way...beyond having soundtracks, both from composer Steve Jablonsky and a respective range of rock artists, that really went above and beyond. Tell us in the comments how good those soundtracks are—beyond Linkin Park, obviously—and I guess tell us what you think of the films themselves, and if your opinion on them has changed over time.
Just a few weeks ago, it was announced that Trigun, one of the most beloved anime series of the late 90s, was getting a remake. Surprisingly, the first look at this new version of the sci-fi western has come pretty quickly, as footage debuted on Saturday at Anime Expo in Los Angeles.
Unlike the previous 1998 series, Stampede is done a stylized CG art style, courtesy of Studio Orange (Beastars, Godzilla Singular Point). The result is a look somewhat similar to the Guilty Gearfranchise. Also new to the series is the staff: Kenji Mutou (Beastars, Cavity Express) will serve as series director, with Kouji Tajima (Parasyte, Attack on Titan) handling concept and character design. Finally, the voice cast is new, with Yoshitugu Matsuoka voicing series lead Vash and Junya Ikeda as antagonist Million Knives, Vash’s twin brother. Maaya Sakamoto will provide the voice for Rem Saverem, and Tomoyo Kursoawa and Yumiri Hanamori will respectively voice the young versions of Vash and Knives.
TRIGUN STAMPEDE | OFFICIAL TRAILER
Despite the newness, the plot of Stampede is the same as the original: Vash the Stampede is a gunslinger nicknamed the “Humanoid Typhoon” who’s arrived on the desert planet of No Man’s Land. With the help of insurance agents Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson, Vash’s aim is to avoid getting snatched up by the many bounty hunters looking to get rich off his bounty, all while maintaining his pacifist ideology. Both the original manga by creator Yasuhiro Nightow and the first anime adaptation by Studio Madhouse were well-received, and the anime is particular has oft been listed as one of the best series ever. In 2010, the anime received its first—and only—film in the form of Trigun: Badlands Rumble.
Look for Trigun Stampede to release globally in 2023 on Crunchyroll, where the original series can be watched in all its nostalgic glory.
Shonen anime fans rejoiced late Saturday evening when, at Los Angeles’ Anime Expo, new footage debuted for the return of Bleach. The popular Toonami series ended back in 2014, just two years before the manga by creator Tite Kubo would wrap up with 2016's “Thousand-Year Blood War” arc. Late last year, it was announced that the anime would come back to bring things to its proper close, and now our new look at it looks really dang good.
Official Trailer #1 | BLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War | VIZ
Created by Kubo back in 2001, Bleach follows the adventures of teenager Ichigo Kurosaki, who becomes a Soul Reaper to defend humanity from evil spirits. Like with most shonen anime, it became extremely popular, leading to plenty of merchandise, including video games, anime films, a trading card game, and several musicals. Studio Pierrot (Naruto, Boruto, Legend of Korra) handled the original anime adaptation, and they’re returning for this final arc, with directing duties being handled by Tomohisa Taguchi (Akudama Drive). During the panel, Kubo released a video message telling fans to expect a “new and refreshing” viewing experience, and mentioned his close involvement with the anime’s development.
“Blood War” will see Ichigo and his returning allies—including Rukia Kukichi, Renji Abari, Byakuya Kukichi—come together to save the Soul Society from the Wandenreich. Led by Ywach, aka the “Quincy King,” the Wandenreich are going around killing Hollows in the World of the Living, and the trailer primarily exists to highlight the eclectic cast. Well, that and emphasize that Ywach needs to be taken out within nine days, lest the world end. During the panel, it was also revealed that several of the English voice cast would be returning, including Johnny Young Bosch (Ichigo) and Michelle Ruff (Rukia).
Expect Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War to hit this October. Peep the new key visual below, which includes a variety of returning characters.
The Table is down to only six this week, and descriptions are down to two. That is only if the short existential poetry of this week’s Westworld a description can be counted as a discription. Before that Evil takes their show on the road. Ms. Marvel gives us her fifth episode, and The Orville gives us “Twice in a lifetime” which one could guess is a title for a time-loop episode. The Boys and Strange New Worlds both end their seasons this week, as well.
[All synopses (and titles) from Trakt.tv below the cut, except when there really aren’t any. (If a show’s synopsis is a spoiler to you, do not click Continue reading →)]
Evil – S03E04 – The Demon of the Road – The team encounters a truck driver whose wife thinks he is possessed and explores the possibility of a demon haunting the highway.
Westworld – S04E02 – Well Enough Alone – I heard a fly buzz when I died.
Alex: This is *not* the Wuxia film starring Jet Li, but rather a 1990s remake of the 1974 film The Boxer from Shangtung, directed by Corey Yuen (one of the Seven Little Fortunes along with Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, and who directed Michelle Yeoh’s breakthrough film, Yes, Madam!)
Finally, the picks of the week. Alex says, “Everything Everywhere All At Once is my pick, hands down. I’ve been a fan of Michelle Yeoh’s work for years, and this is a film that really lets her showcase every aspect of her skill as an actor. If she doesn’t get a Best Leading Actress nomination at the Academy Awards for this role, she will have been robbed.” Blaine says, “nothing I’ve seen grabs me, but Everything Everywhere All At Once is very near the top of my ‘to watch’ list.”
Ever since Fox got themselves snatched up Disney and Kevin Feige made it clear that the mutants would be making their way to the MCU eventually, there’s been no shortage of speculation about who’ll be playing the new batch of X-Men. Moreso than Professor X or Magneto, Wolverine is the one that everyone’s got some opinion on. These days, we now know there’s nothing stopping Hugh Jackman from coming back to the role (and the frankly absurd diet needed to maintain it) that launched him into cinematic stardom. But there’s been no shortage of folks who want someone new to take the reigns, and one actor is now specifically making their desires clear rather than simply dancing around the subject and hoping to be John Krasinski’d into an eventual film.
Specifically, it’s Taron Egerton of Kingsman and Rocketman fame (or more importantly, Moomintroll) who wants to get in on the comic book action. He said as such to the New York Times; while promoting his upcoming Apple TV+ show Black Bird, Egerton admitted that he has spoken with Marvel Studios employees, including Kevin Feige, about getting involved in the superhero game. While it’s something he’s hoping to take a shot at, he also knows that there’s some big shoes to fill, regardless of whoever eventually plays the character. “I’d be excited, but I’d be apprehensive as well,” he said. “Hugh is so associated with the role that I’d wonder if it’d be very difficult for someone else to do it.” Back in 2019, the actor talked about being aware of fans wanting him in the role, and was flattered that they were rooting for him.
Talking with Feige raises the chances of Egerton getting a shot to play Wolverine just slightly, but it’s equally possible that Feige and crew have someone else in mind for him to play. Since Marvel has just so much stuff in various stages of production, we won’t really know what Egerton’s future is until we know. Maybe he’ll wind up being Wolverine, mayhaps he’ll get locked in for Human Torch or Nova. (Maybe he’d be a good Cyclops?) Either way, it’s doubtful that he won’t wind up playing a superhero eventually, since basically everyone does...it’s just a matter of whom it’ll be.
Watched: Oh boy, I went through a bit of a tear with TV this month. Along with being taken in by Ms. Marveland slowly catching up on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the biggest thing I watched, TV show wise, was Barry. After hearing so much about it on Twitter over the course of several weekends, I finally took the plunge and really enjoyed that first season. It’s incredibly breezy as hell, and really easy to just binge three or four episodes before walking away to let everything settle. I like how constantly out of his depth Barry is while simultaneously being the most dangerous person in every scene he inhabits; I like his weird, brief hypotheticals of the future he could have if he successfully gets out of The Life. I’ve stepped away from it for a few days, but am prepared to get into the next two seasons and then eagerly consume season four whenever that hits up in 2023.
Towards the end of the month, I got hit with a case of the rewatch and decided to turn my eye back to Voltron: Legendary Defenderover on Netflix. And you know what, those first three seasons are about as strong as I remember them being. I respect a show that’s extremely committed to its own bullshit, in this case a guerrilla army of alien cat ninjas with transforming swords. In its best moments, that Legendary Defender managed to make its universe feel like a big, space opera romp while maintaining a tight focus. I remember some of this show’s future plot points, and remember being just passively mixed on the ending, so we’ll see how that goes as I continue down mecha-memory lane.
Barry: Season 1 - ‘It’s A Job’ | Official Trailer | HBO
Movie wise, there was Lightyearand Jurassic World Dominion. Lightyear was Fine, but ultimately doesn’t have anything going for it beyond Chris Evans having a surprisingly solid voice that would probably be good for Star Trek sometime in the near future, if he’s in the mood to do franchises again. As for Dominion...well, beyond just not giving nearly enough time to Omar Sy as a spy trying to take down a dinosaur smuggling ring, the biggest sin of the entire thing is that it’s just really dull. The first two World movies had a noticeable, joyous—and at times, controversial—bloodlust and meanness about them that Dominion very much lacks. If this is the last one, I can’t say that I brought flowers with me to the service.
Played: It finally happened. After shelling out for a wireless controller, last week I finally beat Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I grinded some shrines, got enough hearts to pull out the Master Sword, and finally took Calamity Ganon down. I can’t tell you how I actually feel about the game because I’ve been playing it off and on for years—when I booted up my save last week, it said that last I played the game was in March of 2021—but what I remember of the game eventually grew on me, though not to beloved acclaim as anyone else.
Breath of the Wild may be a game that I restart and play properly instead of just playing once every couple of months, but that’ll come after I knock out some more 2022 games. I told myself earlier in the year that I’d play Stranger of Paradiseover the summer, and it is indeed a perfect summer game in that it’s a good way to get out of the sun and just turn some podcasts on. Couldn’t tell you a lick about what the game’s plot is—not a real Final Fantasy player, though I do understand that this is intended to be a prequel of sorts to the original Final Fantasy—but the gameplay is satisfying enough that I don’t really care. It’s a fun throwback to those old PS3/360 co-op games you’d play on the couch with your childhood friend, and I just love how completely frickin’ stupid it is. I may end up paying for that DLC if I finish the base campaign proper in time.
Very briefly, I also played some Citizen Sleeper, a narrative cyberpunk RPG inspired by tabletop games about you, a humanoid machine dubbed a “Sleeper,” having to work inside a space station while figuring out how to stay alive. A limited set of dice dictates what all you can do in any day, and as you become more embroiled in the lives of the station’s inhabitants, it can be stressful trying to figure out how to balance it all. But it’s the fun kind of stressful, one where the vibes are always easy going thanks to some moody music and a casts of characters who are light and friendly while no doubt having a darker edge to them. There’s just something absorbing about Citizen Sleeper right from the start, and I think that if you’ve got a PC that can run it—or Xbox Game Pass—you should play it if you’ve got yourself a love for the sci-fi.
Finally, there was Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, a retro throwback to the 80s days of the TMNT. Beyond mashing the buttons of the arcade machine at my local Dairy Queen back in the day, I’ve never played a TMNT beat-’em-up before, but Shredder’s Revenge manages to feel like a fun nostalgia trip nonetheless. For me, the biggest issue is that the game feels too chaotic for its own good; in single player, some levels feel deliberately mean, like the early missions on the hoverboard. And in co-op, it quickly gets to be a mess if you’ve got more than three players. There’s fun to be had here, certainly, but the game having six-player co-op feel a bit misguided when even four players could become real unwieldy really fast.
But enough from me, go ahead and spill what all you did for the month of June in the comments below.
Writer Dan Slott has had a long, sometimes controversial history with Spider-Man. He’s the man behind the story for the Shattered Dimensions video game, along with the architect behind the “Superior Spider-Man” arc where Peter Parker died (technically) and had his body jacked by Doctor Octopus. When he jumped ship over to Iron Man and the Fantastic Four in 2018, it seemed like his time with the webhead had come to an end, but this being comic, things aren’t always as final as they seem.
Come October, Slott will be back to penning the perils of Peter Parker in a new series simply dubbed Spider-Man. With art by Mark Bagley—perhaps best known for his run on Ultimate Spider-Man with writer Brian Michael Bendis—the new series will pick up following the “End of Spider-Verse” event hitting in August. The event will see the return of Morlun, a psychic vampire whose family hunts down Spiders across all multiverses and kills them. Morlun famously killed the Peter Parker of the mainline Marvel universe, and his family has been the antagonists of the Spider-Verseand Spider-Geddoncomic events of respectively 2014 and 2018. The book will intertwine with writer Zeb Wells and artist John Romita Jr.’s Amazing Spider-Man run that sees Peter working alongside his old enemy Norman Osborn.
In a press release, Slott said that returning to Spidey was like coming back home. “Like there’s nowhere I’d rather be...Mark and I are two guys who live to tell Spider-Man stories. Cut us and we bleed Spider-Man,” he said. Promising not to “let you [the readers down,” Slott further teased that this new, adjective-less run would be taking “big swings” in every issue. “The first thing we’re doing, right out of the gate, is the Spider-Verse comic to END all Spider-Verse comics!”
There’ve been no shortage of IP crossovers in recent years, particularly from Warner Bros. Space Jam 2 was basically WB’s crossover Comic-Con, and it doesn’t appear that they’ll be stopping anytime soon. On the game side, they’ve got Multiversus, where DC superheroes will get to fight alongside Cartoon Network and HBO characters in a Super Smash Bros. alike. And come next year, they’ll have another crossover movie to join the likes of Teen Titans Go/DC Super Hero Girlsand Batman/TMNT.
On Friday, Rooster Teeth at their annual RTX event announced that their YA anime series RWBY (pronounced “ruby,” after its lead character) will get its first feature film. Based on the RWBY/Justice League comic miniseries by Marguerite Bennett, Mirka Andolfo, and Aneke that released in 2021, the film of the same name will see the show’s lead characters—monster slayers Ruby Rose (Lindsay Jones), Weiss Schnee (Kara Eberle), Blake Belladonna (Arryn Zech), and Yang Xiao Long (Barbara Dunkelman)—cross paths with the Justice League. Or rather, their universe’s equivalent of the League; because the anime features half human/half-animal people called Faunus, some of the DC characters will be reimagined with that in mind. Batman and Aquaman, for example, are respectively part bat and part fish in this universe, which mainly translates to having physical features to indicate as such. Otherwise, the heroes look roughly how you’d expect in a YA science fantasy anime.
The RWBY/Justice League crossover film is being handled by the same production team currently at work on the show’s upcoming ninth season. A first look at the new season (which you can see here!) was shown during the same panel that announced the crossover film; both the film and new season will be hitting sometime next year. Right now, season nine is said to just be hitting early 2023, while RWBY/JL doesn’t have a specific release window. In the meantime, fans of the show can watch theIce Queendomanime over on Crunchyroll. It’s intended as a retelling of the show’s original three seasons that RT has created in tandem with Studio SHAFT, best known for Magia Record, and March Comes In Like a Lion. Its first episode will premiere to the masses on Sunday, July 3, with the remaining 11 episodes premiering on Sundays.
There’s a timelessness to Steven Spielberg’s E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial—which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year—that can’t be denied. It encompasses movie magic on a level that transcends the screen through its music and its story of a friendship between a boy and an alien that defies the odds. It’s set to return to the screens later this summer on IMAX, but there’s one place it’s never left.
At Universal Studios Orlando, the only opening day attraction still operating is E.T. Adventure. The ride, which opened in the summer of 1990, originally was the first of three, with Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan also featuring the dark ride. “E.T. Adventure is near and dear to Steven’s heart,” shared Jason Surrell, executive creative director at Universal Creative, known for working on the Jurassic Park attractions at Islands of Adventure and Halloween Horror Nights. Surrell discussed with io9 how closely the legendary director worked with Universal to bring E.T. Adventure to life with the theme park. “E.T. Adventure was created in full collaboration with Steven Spielberg, who also serves as an overall creative consultant for Universal Parks and Resorts. He reviews almost everything we create for Universal parks around the globe, and gets even more intimately involved with projects based on his films.”
As an LA kid, my first visit to Universal Studios Hollywood was to ride E.T. Adventure after my parents introduced me to the movie. They’d seen it in the ‘80s in theaters so when it was released on VHS, I watched it at home with them and promptly asked for a bike, imagining myself taking off and flying across the moon. Naturally a trip to Universal was in order and I still remember most of the details, like the forest queue and its smell, being a little afraid before hopping onto the bikes to experience the familiar movie scene, and my surprise that the experience included a trip to E.T.’s home world, the Green Planet.
The space adventure of the latter half of the ride was inspired by the art and additional alien characters in William Kotzwinkle’s sequel novelization, E.T. The Book of the Green Planet—something that, as Surrell pointed, helped make the attraction extra special. “The fact that the story continued beyond the movie and took us to the Green Planet, [it took] everything we loved about the film and combined it with new locations and characters to create a continuation of the story, which had never been done before in a theme park attraction.” On the whimsical Green Planet, you meet new aliens like Botanicus, Orbidon, and Magdol, along with so many baby E.T.s. Like so many other fans, ever since that childhood trip, E.T. Adventure instantly became my favorite ride.
Themed entertainment producer Johanna Atilano, who has worked in business development and live events with companies like the Jim Henson Company and managed the production of attractions at Universal Creative, shared a similar story about growing up on the West Coast. “My dad loved taking my cousins and I to theme parks every year, and somehow my parents allowed me to celebrate my birthdays there as well,” she said. “While I grew up with theme parks and loved everything about them, I was also heavily into filmmaking and Steven Spielberg films. Which is why Universal Studios Hollywood was particularly special to me. When I rode a theme park attraction like E.T. Adventure my little mind was blown. I could not believe that my favorite films came to life in front of me. I rode a bicycle with E.T.!”
Sadly, the Hollywood iteration of the ride closed in 2003 to be replaced by an indoor coaster, Revenge of the Mummy, and Japan’s version ended its run in 2009. For fans like me and Atilano, the love for the ride has transferred over to the original ride in Universal Studios Orlando, which still remains in operation and is long rumored to be under Spielberg’s protection.
“The fact that E.T. Adventure is still in operation over 32 years after the park opened—largely unchanged—is living proof that the attraction is a timeless classic,” Surrell shared. “It’s a testament to both the enduring legacy of the film on which the attraction is based as well as the fact that the ride is a unique fly-through experience unlike anything else in the world. Where else can you ride a bike that takes flight as E.T. himself emerges from the basket in front of you to guide you on an intergalactic adventure?”
The kindred excitement shared by anyone who wanted to be friends with E.T. speaks to how much the ride sticks with you—like its iconic pine scent, a specific detail that seems to be a part of everyone’s memory. It’s immediately nostalgia-evoking. When I visited the E.T. ride on the East Coast for the first time and the building’s air wafted toward me, I felt like I could smell the moment in time when I first rode the ride as a kid. Every time you ride it, it’s like a homecoming for you when Orbidon says, “Welcome home, you’ve arrived.” Somehow no matter how often you visit, it just transports you.
And Atilano echoed the sentiment. “One of my personal favorite things about E.T. Adventure is showing the attraction to friends and family who have not experienced it in years and I get to see the nostalgia and happiness glow in their faces. Almost everyone has the same memory—the queue’s forest scent!” (The ever-present ride smell, she shared, has an official name: Pine Forest and Fern.) She understands exactly how it evokes such nostalgia for anyone’s earliest memories of the ride. “I vividly remember being terrified because the flying sensation on the bicycles felt realistic—I thought I was going to fall out! But that doesn’t mean I hated it. I was fascinated. E.T. was a movie I loved endlessly as a kid… and I finally got to meet that cute little creature... in person. These early memories are a huge part of why I got into the theme park industry. There is something amazing about the books, movies, or stories you love that are suddenly a physical experience. You get so used to watching movies, but theme parks bring you into the movies. The fantastical worlds that I loved became tangible.”
It jumped out for Surrell, too, when he gave us his Universal Studios opening day account of when the Orlando park premiered with the ride. “I was working in the Central Florida theme park industry while in college during that fateful summer of 1990, and visiting Universal Studios Florida during its opening months remains one of my fondest memories,” he remembered. “I’ll never forget stepping into that darkened ride building as I made my way through the moonlit pine forest that you could actually smell, and then flying high above the twinkling lights of the city and across the moon with E.T. himself on an intergalactic adventure that took me beyond one my favorite childhood films.” He emphasized “the moment when John Williams’ score swells as your bike takes flight in the moonlit sky” as being the most powerful moment—and indeed, it’s a moment when you feel like you’re a part of the movie in ways you only imaged before.
It’s all there, including the details from the film that help immerse you in its world. “Eagle-eyed fans are sure to spot the homemade communication device that E.T. used to ‘phone home’ alongside the queue through the piney forest, and that has to be the single biggest Easter egg from the film itself,” Surrell said.
Atilano, who’s also worked with Universal Creative legends, shared with us her favorite fun fact, from former co-worker and friend Greg MacLaurin who was the special effects designer for E.T. Adventure in Hollywood and Orlando. “There are 33,000-plus individual fibers for the exploding tunnel,” she said of the moment on the ride when the stars burst you to the Green Planet. “With just Greg and a team of five, these individual fibers were hand placed, [drilled] and inserted into the wall and took six months to complete. Today, I am sure the scene would’ve been designed as projection mapping, but we are blessed with a fully practical and glorious fiberoptic effect that still amazes guests today.”
The ride has its own meaningful sense of transformative make-believe that even newer rides can’t replicate. “I keep reminding myself that when E.T. Adventure opened, it was ahead of its time in 1990,” Atilano said. “The animated figures, suspended ride system, scale, scents. After the pre-show, each guest provides their name to the team member, and is given an Interplanetary Passport. And at the finale, E.T. says your name!”
E.T. Adventure is truest to the themes of why the Universal Studios parks are not only an escape into the movies but a source of inspiration for future movie makers and creatives, including Surrell and Atilano. Here you have the legendary Spielberg in the pre-show entrusting you with getting his friend home safely—something masterfully set up by the director, who is as much of an icon as E.T.; he’s the one who invites you to the set to meet his alien friend who needs to get back home so his healing touch can save his planet, as if E.T. was a real alien cast in a movie about his own life! What’s more fourth-wall breaking than that? And at the end he remembers your name, if you’re lucky since this feature has a lot of off days. Side note: I have been lucky enough to have been on the ride when it broke down and walked through the Green Planet set with the lights on (video here). It only enhanced the experience to get an unofficial behind the scenes look that didn’t take away from the magic.
To this day, every time you get back in that queue it feels like the first time as soon as you breathe in that nostalgic pine scent. “There is something amazing about the books, movies, or stories you love that are suddenly a physical experience. You get so used to watching movies, but theme parks bring you into the movies. The fantastical worlds that I loved became tangible, and that was something so crazy as a kid,” Atilano said. “Yes, there are extremely complex and interactive theme park attractions today, but let’s not forget that it was 1990! I think it’s extremely important that an attraction like E.T. Adventure is still in operation.”
Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular round up of the latest and greatest nerdy toy news. This week wraps up Obi-Wan Wednesdays with two more Hasbro figures, Super7 heads back to Springfield and beyond for even more Simpsons Ultimates, and: do you dare to bop Darth Vader? Check it out!
Super7 The Simpsons Ultimates! Wave 3 Figures
Although Playmates did a fantastic job with its incredibly extensive line of The Simpsons figures from the early aughts, they were nowhere near as detailed and accessorized as Super7's The Simpsons Ultimates! figures—we just wish they’d start churning them out faster. We’re only now at Wave 3 featuring C. Montgomery Burns with Blinky the three-eyed fish and his Teddy bear Bobo, Ralph Wiggum with an alternative ice cream cone covered head, and brilliantly finished versions of aliens Kang and Kodos. They’re all available for pre-order now from Super7 with Mr. Burns and Ralph at $55 each, Kang and Kodos at $75 each, or the entire wave in a $260 bundle.
Star Wars The Black Series Obi-Wan Kenobi Obi-Wan (Jabiim) and and Teeka
The last two figures for “Obi-Wan Wednesday” have delivered us a few more entries for Hasbro’s 6" Star Wars line. The third Obi-Wan of the reveals brings us his robe and sleeveless cloak that he wore on Jabiim and beyond in the series’ climax, while the other figure is a much more intriguing choice: Teeka, the parts-scrounging Jawa that Obi-Wan trades with in the series’ opening episode to buy a toy Skyhopper for Luke. Teeka comes with a blaster and some assorted Jawa Junk to hock, while Obi-Wan has a removable cloak, his lightsaber, and a blaster pistol. Both figures are up for pre-order now, with Obi-Wan available at Hasbro Pulse, and Teeka exclusive to Target.
Lego Technic Airbus H175 Rescue Helicopter
Building Lego Technic models isn’t always a walk in the park, but your sore fingers are usually rewarded with a lavishly detailed model featuring many layers of functionality. Lego’s new Airbus H175 Rescue Helicopter, available starting August 1 for $210, comes together from 2,001 pieces (including an electric motor) with features like variable speed spinning rotors, retractable landing gear, and a working winch, as well as a manually operated swash plate for adjusting the pitch of the rotor blades, and functional doors. The only thing it can’t do is actually fly.
Hasbro Marvel Legends Series Black Panther Electronic Role Play Helmet
We’re still months away from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hitting theaters on November 11, but the marketing machine for the sequel is already slowly coming to life, starting with a new “Role Play” helmet from Hasbro. It’s a 1:1 scale reproduction of the character’s helmet from the original film, and features “movie-accurate sculpting” as well as lenses that flip up and down at the push of a button and purple lighting accents. It’s available for pre-order now from Hasbro Pulse for $132, but won’t ship until December 1, after the film’s debut.
Hasbro Star Wars Bop It! Darth Vader
Although it’s really just nothing more than a game where players simply follow instructions and physically interact with it in three different ways (like twisting it or bopping it) the Bop It! commands slowly speed up over time and it can get genuinely stressful—even more so when it’s barking commands at you in Emperor Palpatine’s voice. This fall Bop It! will take the form of Darth Vader for $17.50 in a new version that skips Skywalker’s iconic commanding voice for the strained tones of the Emperor, who will even chide and mock you for eventually screwing up. This is supposed to be fun, right?
This week’sStar Trek: Strange New Worlds delivered what might just be the closest Star Trek has ever gotten to an episode of genuine horror. Jump scares, tension, blood, gore, and lots of screaming, it had it all—but it’s far from the first time Trek’s trended terrifying. Here’s a few more of our creepy favorites.
“Genesis” - The Next Generation
Is “Genesis” a good episode of Star Trek? Absolutely not. Is it still kind of petrifying when you get to see the entire Enterprise crew devolved into the schlockiest, gross-out monster makeup mashups around? Absolutely. Shout out to Spider-Barclay, the scariest member of the Spider-Verse ever.
“Impulse” - Enterprise
Although Star Trek already has the Borg for its zombie riff, the franchise has never really come close to doing a zombie episode quite like this one. After the NX-01 crew comes across a marooned Vulcan vessel, it turns out a sinister toxin has rendered the crew a bloodthirsty, flesh-craving horde.
“Catspaw” - The Original Series
Our standards for spooks may have changed since the time of the original Star Trek, but there’s both a retro Halloweeny charm to this episode—it’s even penned by Psycho author Robert Bloch!—and some genuine tension, as Kirk and Spock face a mysterious wizard who wants to ensorcel the Enterprise crew.
“The Thaw” - Voyager
Clowns. Why’d it have to be clowns?
“Night Terrors” - The Next Generation
This episode’s a bit more horror-light than full-on horror—but it’s got some genuinely good creepy moments, as the Enterprise-D crew finds itself afflicted with the same insomnia-driven hallucinations that tore apart the crew of a Federation starship they come across. Dr. Crusher being in sickbay as row after row of corpses slowly sit up behind her is good, but it’s Picard imagining the turbolift shrinking in on him that’s arguably the most chilling moment of all.
“Empok Nor” - Deep Space Nice
A ragtag team of DS9's finest take a trip to the station’s abandoned Cardassian sister-station, Empok Nor... only to find that it’s very much not abandoned. A classic things-that-go-bump-in-the-dark tale, and one made brilliant by the fact it’s essentially shot on the normal Deep Space Nine sets, just lit for a dark horror movie.
“The Wolf in the Fold” - The Original Series
Once again, times have changed when it comes to scare standards, but hey: this is the episode where Scotty gets possessed by the spirit of Jack the Ripper. It’s wild, but it’s also genuinely creepy how much of the episode, before that twist, paints Scotty as a potential serial killer.
“Context Is For Kings” - Discovery
Before this week’s Strange New Worlds, this is closest modern Trek had gotten to a whole bunch of creepiness—not just when the newly freed Michael Burnham finds herself on a peculiar U.S.S. Discovery filled with things and people that seem like they’re up to something, but when the episode truly devolves into alien movie horror as Burnham and a small Away team pay a visit to Discovery’s seemingly abandoned sister ship, the Glenn. Who knew tardigrades could be so violent, or so... large?
“Schisms” - The Next Generation
Hoo boy, this has it all—body horror, paranoia, alien abduction. The Enterprise crew finds itself the subject of a bizarre, horrifying experimentation experience, with some genuinely great tension building before the big reveal.
“Whispers” - Deep Space Nine
Poor Miles O’Brien goes through absolute hell on Deep Space Nine so often that it’s almost worth just putting “O’Brien’s life” as an entry here. But “Whispers” is another great example in a long line of “Star Trek hero comes back and starts realizing something is different” thrillers, when Miles returns to Deep Space Nine only to find everyone behaving strangely.
“Conspiracy” - The Next Generation
“Conspiracy” is a little more schlocky thriller than genuinely spooky at some point, but existentially there is something quite horrifying about just how close a maniacal parasite came to completely upending the Federation as we know it. And once again, if you love a good gross-out gore moment, this delivers when Picard and Riker infamously turn their phasers all the way up to blast the infected Lieutenant Commander Remmick to pulpy bits.
“All Those Who Wander” - Strange New Worlds
And then, of course, the penultimate episode of Strange New Worlds’ first season has to be on here, because it is by far and away the scariest Star Trek has ever been. Alien with Gorn babies? Good god.
According to Arthur’s About Theme Parks, which spoke to a bartender on board, “the galactic beverage is primarily made with Camus cognac. It also includes the Japanese citrus fruit, yuzu, as well as kumquat.” And there’s more, according to the site’s reporter, who attended the Disney Wish christening cruise: “Kaiburr Crystal also features Grand Marnier Quintessence, which is considerably pricier than Camus cognac.” They also note that the multi-component drink—you can see from this video that it’s more like a flight of cocktails rather than a single beverage—includes shots of Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23 Year bourbon (a single bottle of the stuff is close to $6,000) and Taylor’s Fladgate Kingsman Edition Very Old Tawny Port (just over $3,000 per bottle).
And while no, the Kaiburr Crystal does not come with the camtono, other reports shared that it also includes a bottle of sparkling wine from Skywalker Vineyards, the metal plate and cups it’s served on, a Star Wars backpack, a water bottle, Hyperspace Lounge decor for your cabin, and a voucher for one guest to visit Skywalker Ranch (known for not being open to the public) in Marin County, California. For that cost I hope it comes with a glimpse of George Lucas himself tending to some grapes at least.
So if you happen to be aboard the Disney Wish, and somehow manage to get into the Hyperspace Lounge (which boasts a maximum capacity of 50 guests at a time with reservations required), you too can get a chance to scoff at the $5,000 Star Wars drink—or order it if you’re Canto Bight rich.
Hideaki Anno seems to just be doing whatever the hell he wants after he finally wrapped up Neon Genesis Evangelion (for now, at least). He got to make an Ultraman movie and he’s now directing a Kamen Rider one, letting him live out creating a new chapter for two of his lifelong superhero obsessions. And it turns out for at least one of those, he rather literally helped bring them to life.
Now that Shin Ultraman has been out a while in Japan, new behind-the-scenes footage of the movie’s VFX work has been released—revealing that none other than Anno himself provided the motion capture work for Ultraman’s arrival in the movie, and the first time the giant of light crosses his arms to unleash the iconic specium beam attack.
It’s not the most strenuous physical capture work, sure, but it’s mostly delightful because Anno is an Ultraman die-hard himself, and embodying the character brings him full circle to one of his earliest works as a film student: The Return of Ultraman: MAT Arrow 1 Takeoff Order, a half-hour Ultraman story Anno made for Daicon IV, the 1983 Japan SF Convention. The short stars Anno himself in what can loosely be described as “in costume” as Ultraman, but in reality mostly just wearing an Ultraman Jack-themed jacket.
Hideaki Anno’s “Return of Ultraman” - English Subs
And so, now he’s an official part of the Ultraman legacy rather literally. The real question remains though: are we going to get him to do a Rider transformation pose in Shin Kamen Rider?
Whether you loved the Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series or it left you feeling disconnected from the Force of the Star Wars franchise, it’s interesting to think about the show we might have gotten. While we heard earlier this week that the show planned to kill off the villain Reva, and that the initial plan was to make a trilogy of Obi-Wan movies, now writer-producer Stuart Beattie has revealed some more of the earliest plans for the project, and they range from “Oh, cool!” to “You have got to be shitting me.”
In another—and much lengthier—interview with the Direct, Beattie talked about his original plan for the story, and all the pretty major stuff that got cut along the way. First and foremost, Commander Cody—the orange-highlighted Stormtrooper who briefly appeared in Attack of the Clones and was a major character in the Clone Wars cartoon—was going to have a major role as Obi-Wan’s friend on Tatooine. As Beattie put it, “So you got these two kind of old warriors bickering like this old married couple, bitching about, ‘God, it was so much better when we had an army at our backs,’ you know?’”
A specific scene that was lost when Cody was cut was one of him and Obi-Wan disposing of a group of bounty hunter corpses by dumping them in the Sarlacc pit: “My Cody was so fun. Cody was with Owen and there were some bounty hunters that had discovered Obi-Wan… And they gotta get rid of the bodies. And so there was just this really fun scene where, you know, what do you do with bodies on Tatooine and you need to get rid of them? Well, you go out to the local Sarlacc, right?” The scene was also supposed to include a mysterious speeder catching the duo in the act—but which turned out to be a completely wasted Jawa there to dispose of a corpse of his own.
Another major scene that got cut was one of Obi-Wan having a vision after touching a sacred stone cherished by the refugees, who would have worshipped the Force as a goddess. The Jedi would open his eyes to discover he had been (seemingly) transported to Mustafar, and...
“And he sees a guy in a dark robe with a red lightsaber, and he’s like, ‘Anakin, Anakin, Anakin!’ And as… the guy in the robe comes up, he lifts his lightsaber, you see, it’s Luke. Mark Hamill, 19. And so, Luke attacks him. Obi-Wan and Luke had this lightsaber battle in mine, which was mirroring, of course, Empire Strikes Back… so it was that kind of a thing that ends with, you know, Luke, just almost killing Obi-Wan, and Obi-Wan is snapping out of the, you know, the vision, basically, but it’s a vision of the future if Obi-Wan keeps training Luke and putting all his guilt on this kid, Luke’s gonna turn to the Dark Side.”
And there’s so, so much more Beattie reveals in the interview, which is absolutely worth a read if you want to know the many other elements that might have been, for better or for worse. I will say this: it would be pretty rad for Temuera Morrison to show up if Obi-Wan Kenobi gets a second season. However, if it comes down to a choice between Cody and a drunken Jawa, I’m picking Drunk Jawa every time.
Welcome back to io9's monthly Nerd’s Watch, where we pare down the enormous lists of new films and television shows arriving on all your favorite streaming services into the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror titles we think you’ll like most.
Ever since we first heard, approximately 17 billion years ago, that Sigourney Weaver would return for James Cameron’s Avatar sequels, we were all perplexed (even more so than with the idea of there being multiple Avatar sequels). But now we actually know how Weaver is coming back, we’re... somehow even more perplexed.
Empire Magazine has revealed that Weaver—who played Dr. Grace Augustine, the developer of the Human-Na’vi switcheroo Avatar Program in the original movie, who died in its climax—will be playing an entirely new character in Avatar: The Way of Water. And no, it’s not a human: it’s the teenage daughter of Avatar’s protagonists, Jake and Neytiri.
Weaver will play Kiri, the adopted daughter of the couple, and just one of many of Jake and Neytiri’s family that we’re seemingly going to meet in The Way of Water. “I think we all pretty much remember what we were feeling as adolescents,” Weaver told Empire of what it was like to play a digitized blue teenager. “I certainly do. I was 5’ 10” or 5’ 11” when I was 11. I felt strongly that Kiri would feel awkward a lot of the time. She’s searching for who she is. I was thrilled to be given that challenge by Jim.”
Now look, adult actors play children all the time, especially in the world of voice acting, and it does seem from at least one still Empire released of Kiri that Weaver will also appear in some capacity as Dr. Augustine again, presumably through archival footage. But considering the fancy mocap rigs that we know bring the Na’vi to life for the most part, there’s going to be something weird about watching Weaver’s physical performance be transposed onto a teenager. A lanky blue alien teenager, sure, but a teenager nonetheless.
Avatar: The Way of Water is set to hit theaters in December 2022.
You might be wondering to yourself, “Who the hell has already watched the last two episodes ofStranger Thingsseason four? It’s four hours long!” You’d be surprised (as was I)—so many people tuned into Netflix at 3:00 a.m. ET, the moment the two episodes went live, the streaming service actually crashed. That’s bananas, and it’s bananas enough that io9 wants to go ahead and give you maniacs access to a safe space to discuss Eleven, Vecna, their showdown, and the fate of poor Hawkins, Indiana.
Vecna created the Upside Down! The Mind Flayer is a giant spider because Vecna loves spiders! Hopper and Joyce kiss! Will makes his feelings for Mike known... to the audience! The deaths! The death! And the Upside Down has arrived in Right-Side Up Hawkins! If all of that didn’t justify a massive two-hour-and-20-minute finale, it ended up being much, much closer than I thought it would.
So what did you think of season four? Are you dying for the fifth and final season to get here now to see how the gang stops Vecna now that he’s basically won? Crank up the “Running Up That Hill” and sound off in the comments.
Christian Bale revealed to Prensa Escenario (via Comic Book) that scenes he shared with both Peter Dinklage and Jeff Goldblum have been cut from the final film.
I got to work with Peter Dinklage, that’s not in the final film, but he’s fantastic. I got to work with Jeff Goldblum, he’s not in the final film either. As you see, a lot of stuff ends up on the cutting room floor even though it is beautiful, brilliant stuff.
CHRISTIAN BALE - THOR LOVE AND THUNDER - ENTREVISTA CINE
Meanwhile, director Taika Waititi confirmed to IGN that Gorr’s appearance was altered to look less like Voldemort.
His face in the comics, unfortunately, does kind of resemble Voldemort. You know, so I was like people are going to just automatically going to make that connection. So we decided to depart from that design a bit more, sort of keep elements of the tone, and the fact that he had the sword. But really, it was about his story, that was the most important thing for us.
According to Variety, Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran is behind the neon spandex rollerskating outfits of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie.
Time Out has a spooky new image from the upcoming Predator prequel, Prey.
Monster High: The Movie
A human is haunting Monster High in the first trailer for Monster High: The Movie.
Monster High: The Movie - FULL TRAILER! | Monster High
The search for a missing woman takes a “neon-tinged, genre-bending” turn in the trailer for Medusa.
MEDUSA | Official U.S. Trailer | In Select Theaters July 29, 2022
Last Journey of Paul W.R.
The titular Paul W.R. is humanity’s last hope against an encroaching red moon in the trailer for Last Journey of Paul W.R.
LAST JOURNEY OF PAUL W.R. | Official Trailer
We also have a trailer for Polaris, a new action film described as “Mad Max in the Arctic.”
Polaris | Teaser
Horizon: Zero Dawn
According to a new report from The Ronin, Netflix’s upcoming series based on the Playstation game Horizon: Zero Dawn begins filming this August in Toronto.
Vought has released a statement in regards to Starlight’s controversial livestream last week.
I’m excited to see what you guys think of the twists. I had somebody yesterday in a Meet & Greet, [who said] ‘Just so you know, John didn’t know about hunting until after Mary died.’ And my response was ‘Oh, I’m well aware.’ Don’t think that we’re just tossing away 15 years of established story. It’s just how we’re going to get to it may not be what you expected.
The Archies gather intel on Percival in the synopsis for “Return to Rivervale” airing July 17.
THE ULTIMATE MAN OF MYSTERY — Archie (KJ Apa) and the gang gather intel about Percival (guest star Chris O’Shea) so they can better understand where he came from and use that to their advantage. However, when their plan results in an unexpected outcome, the gang is left having to pay a terrible cost. Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes, Cole Sprouse, Madelaine Petsch, Mädchen Amick, Casey Cott, Vanessa Morgan, Charles Melton, Erinn Westbrook and Drew Ray Tanner also star. Anna Kerrigan directed the episode written by Ted Sullivan & Devon Turner (#620). Original airdate 7/17/2022.
Tom Swift rescues a missing scientist in the synopsis for “Tom Swift and His Two Men and a Baby” airing July 19.
FEELINGS – Tom’s (Tian Richards) mysterious guardian angel Rowan (Albert Mwangi) makes an urgent plea for help in rescuing a missing scientist targeted by the same anti-tech conspiracy that sabotaged Barton Swift’s ship. When the Squad embarks on this mission, a surprising secret comes to light and brings Tom and Rowan closer than ever before. Meanwhile, Zenzi’s (Ashleigh Murray) simmering feelings for Isaac (Marquise Vilsón) are complicated by a bold move from Congressman Eskol (guest star Ward Horton). Miller Tobin directed the episode written by Teresa Huang & Bradley Marques (#108). Original airdate 7/19/2022.
Guests aboard Disney Cruise’s newest ship The Wish will be the first to experience Avengers: Quantum Encounter, a Marvel Studios dinner theater show. In it, actors from the films virtually reprise their roles for an in-universe dining experience where cruisers get a curated, themed meal—and some banter over a key battle against a particular purple Mad Titan.
Specifically, the topic at hand is why Ant-Man didn’t attack Thanos from, well, his posterior end. (You know you were wondering!) Here’s the clip, shared by Ashley Carter, theme park insider for My13News:
“Let me address the elephant in the room,” Paul Rudd says in character as Scott Lang, addressing the much-talked-about theory for Avengers: Endgame. “I’ve heard a lot of chatter out there asking why I didn’t shrink down, go in, and uh—kill Thanos in a really creative way. First of all, gross. Secondly, it’s much more complicated than that. Allow me to explain—”, at which point Hope (Evangeline Lilly) cuts him off because they’re about feed their guests. Perfect dinner topic for the Marvel fan I guess?
Avengers: Quantum Encounter then continues to include a multiple-course dining experience that gets drawn into its own slice of the cinematic universe—beyond that whole “complicated” situation with Thanos, presumably—with appearances from Anthony Mackie as Captain America, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, and newcomer Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel.
Bring on the Titans in this Godzillaspin-off from Legendary Television and Apple. Variety announced the ensemble for the untitled series will be led by The Flash’s Kiersey Clemons and Pachinko’s Anna Sawai, and will also feature Ren Watabe, Joe Tippett, and Elisa Lasowski.
The show is set to follow “one family’s journey to uncover its buried secrets and a legacy linking them to the secret organization known as Monarch” in the wake of the battle between Godzilla and the Titans that leveled San Francisco. In a franchise that’s fond of churning out one-dimensional (human) characters, we’re hoping perhaps a series will allow for a bit more development in that department. (Though we do wonder what previously established characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi stand-out O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s Jackson Barnes, head of the G-Team in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, are up to.) The upcoming project was co-created by Chris Black and Matt Fraction; both will serve as executive producers with Black showrunning. WandaVision’s Matt Shakman is on board to direct the first two episodes and executive produce the series.
Watabe (“461 Days of Bento”) will play Kentaro, described as an intelligent, creative and curious young man who has yet to find his own path. He will embark on a quest to learn more about his revered yet mysterious father and discover his own talents in the process.
Clemons (“Hearts Beat Loud,” “The Young Wife”) stars as May, an American ex-pat with a roguish exterior that she uses to protect herself as well as others. Whether it be deciphering a code or finding the loophole, she is always three steps ahead of everyone around her.
Tippett (“Mare of Easttown,” “The Morning Show,” “Rise”) stars as Tim, an office drone who dreams of secret agent adventure. His overconfidence gets him in trouble in the field, but he is determined not to fail his organization.
Finally, Lasowski (“Versailles”) will appear as Duvall, an expert operative with unwavering confidence in herself and her skills. She also possesses a wry sense of humor, which she uses to guide her less field-oriented colleague.
Hiro Matsuoka and Takemasa Arita of Toho Co. Ltd. and Joby Harold and Tory Tunnell of Safehouse Pictures will also executive produce. There’s no word yet on when the series might arrive on Apple, but with this casting announcement it seems production is stomping ahead with a certain degree of momentum.
Does it feel like we’re getting too much Marvel? It feels like we’re getting too much Marvel.
Just a few days ago, we got the Disney+ release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, with Thor: Love & Thunder finally hitting theaters next week, just a few days after the penultimate episode of Ms. Marvel. Come August, we’re meant to be getting She-Hulk, later to be followed by Black Panther 2 in November, the mysterious Halloween special, the holiday special for Guardians of the Galaxy, and so on. And this isn’t counting Spider-Man: No Way Homegoing back to theaters in September, simply because it feels like it needs even more money. At least one piece of Marvel media per month can feel dizzying, especially in the year 2022, where it feels incredibly surreal that it’s already the end of June.
Perhaps obviously, the reason for this is covid-19. High off the victory of Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios proudly announced a new slate of Phase 4 content that would alternate between theatrical releases and the then-upcoming Disney+ streaming service. But once the pandemic hit, many of the things announced back during Comic-Con found their momentum suddenly kneecapped, like the most of the entertainment industry back then. Things were so bad that nothing was released from the MCU in 2020, as the various films and shows that were planned for that year got kicked to 2021, and even then often multiple times. But this wouldn’t last, since just a few weeks into 2021, WandaVision began Marvel Studios’ frankly aggressive output. For the last two years, we’ve been yanked from grounded stories between MCU vets having to reckon with the aftermath of the Infinity Saga to newcomers suddenly promoted from being billed as special guest stars to recurring cast members as the MCU builds up to its next mega-crossover.
Social media had itself some fun snarking about how good it was to have a full year without the MCU and all its third-act CG madness, and in hindsight, it’s hard not to agree at this point. When the MCU first started, and leading up to at least half of Phase Two, several new movies managed to feel like an Event in and of themselves. Even when they were sequels of varying quality, the time between one film and another felt long enough to come up for air, do some stretching, allow yourself to do some light speculation and keep focus. But with each installment now having only weeks, at best, between each other, the majesty that the MCU insists to you that it’s got feels unearned. The franchise is now, gradually, beginning to feel like an obligation on par with doing your taxes or taking the trash out, and that’s not in a position that any IP should be in, let alone one that’s so obsessed with forward momentum as this one.
And it’s starting to show in the MCU itself. By now, you’ve surely heard that Ms. Marvel has had reportedly the lowest viewership of any MCU series thus far. Releasing it the same day as episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi surely didn’t help, and it would’ve been nice if the show actually had some time to breathe. The show’s proven itself to be pretty enjoyable and nice change of pace from normal MCU fare, and has succeeded making Iman Vellani into a real star who will capably carry The Marvels when that releases next year. Just in the TV sphere, it’s good there was a month between it and Moon Knight’s finale back in May, and She-Hulk is coming out a month after its final episode in mid-July. If the MCU overall had just a little more time like this between releases, maybe even two months, we’d have ourselves a sweet spot, but these feel more like accidental oversights.
What can be done about the MCU at this point? It appears that the only option would be some kind of outright failure that convinces Marvel Studios to slow down, since the franchise just won’t let itself take a break. With its constant stream of content, it’s easy to wonder if it’s afraid of being forgotten in an age where the biggest insult of an IP is to be ignored. The idea of Marvel Studios having insecurity about its place in history is laughable, since it will surely outlive us all. What it needs to do is take better care of itself before it inevitably, finally eats itself to death. Like its many movies and shows, burnout comes for us all, and it’s best to identify it now before you’re sitting in your room, wondering why you can’t make anything happen.
Obviously Wood can’t divulge much about what lies ahead for Christina, even though every Westworld fan who’s been following the show since the beginning (and is therefore very familiar with its love of misdirection) knows there’s got to be more to her than what we’ve seen so far. In a recent roundtable interview, io9 and other press got a chance to ask Wood and Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy about what’s in store for Christina. It’s apparent that her character will be tied into the show’s larger themes revolving around storytelling—particularly as it pertains to who’s in control of the narrative.
“When we first meet Christina, we see that that she is a writer and that she is a storyteller. She works for a gaming company,” Wood said. “But clearly, something is off and something is going on, because she’s getting these crazy phone calls from a stranger who is accusing her and her stories of being real and actually influencing real people. So I think, you know, that’s about as much as I can say. But I think it’s going to be one of the fun things, too, that will sort of unfold—that we get to learn about Christina this season—is what is actually happening. Who is Christina? Where are we? When are we? What is happening and what is her role?”
Though we don’t know much about Christina yet, we can tell she’s quite different from Dolores. However, there are similarities, not just in their obviously identical appearances, but in the way Christina’s life follows a set routine—wake up, go to work, go home, over and over again—not unlike Dolores’ life did in the early days of Westworld. This sense of deliberate familiarity is something that crops up throughout season four, not just when it comes to Christina’s scenes, but across all the storylines.
“We were interested in looking at the way that history tends to repeat itself, or at least rhyme with itself over time,” Joy explained. “I think that as we progress, the lens has gone from being in the pilot, basically Host-based, to a more even split between Hosts and humans, as we’ve kind of shifted the gaze of the narrative. We’re trying to explore the similarities and differences between the two species here—and so in doing so, it’s been helpful to reference the way in which everybody, even humans, live in these kind of loops and find themselves stuck in a rut or seeming to be unable to change their circumstances or even behaviors that they don’t want or like about themselves. That’s been a recurring theme, just exploring through a different angle.”
With all that history repeating, is there a chance that Westworld’s characters—be they human or Host—will be able to break out of their ruts and welcome in the change and progress they so desperately seek? “This is the question, right?,” Joy said. “When so many things can stay the same, what aspect of our lives and of our society as a collective can we change? I think that’s one of the things that is not science fiction about the quandaries of the show ... there seems to be a lot of problems in getting the kind of consensus needed to move forward and act as a species together. And it’s funny because it flouts logic, but the systems of the world, the different bureaucracies, the different loops that society is in and the different mini loops that individuals are in, they can often stymie change no matter how badly we want it, or how much we intellectually know we should strive for it. And the question really is, for Hosts and humans, how much can we save ourselves from ourselves? How much can we transcend our limitations and learn from our mistakes?”
New episodes of Westworld arrive Sundays on HBO Max.
Strange New Worlds has prided itself in its first season on a somewhat sense of ephemerality—that even at its direst of stakes, our enterprising heroes would come out the other side and move on to the next big adventure. This week’s penultimate episode of the season proved just how scary and incredible the series can be when it confronts arguably its truest idea of horror: lasting consequence.
“All Those Who Wander” starts out both innocently enough and tinged with a sadness that will become much more tangible as the episode progresses. Beginning with another dinner in Pike’s quarters, we’re told that Uhura and another cadet, Chia, are nearing the end of their tours of duty on the Enterprise—and with it, Uhura’s reassurance that in spite of all that she’s learned aboard the ship, she’s ready to let go of Enterprise and Starfleet alike. But before she can be too certain—even without our own metatextual knowledge that if she does leave, she won’t be gone forever—a new priority mission that overrides Enterprise’s other priority mission gives Pike reason to send Uhura off with one last adventure.
This is all dealt with in a casual, cool, and confident manner that gives us a wonderful moment with Pike briefing the bridge crew on their new mission—a search and rescue operation for the U.S.S. Peregrine, an important Constitution Class-adjacent vessel that has seemingly crashed landed on an icy world, cut off from comms contact. Balancing Pike (and a roped-in Spock) doing dishes as they discuss the risks—and the fact the Enterprise will need to send an Away team in solo so the ship can finish its other mission delivering supplies—with Pike becoming a Space Dad and treating it like a road trip, this all feels very much of Strange New Worlds’ oeuvre: look at these cool space heroes, so good at their jobs, so calm and collected that balancing the risks of two life-and-death missions is just something that can be casually discussed over a plate of dinner leftovers among friends as much as they are colleagues. Woo, go space exploration!
Turns out, however, this is not a “woo, go space exploration” episode of Strange New Worlds. The moment Pike’s sizeable Away team is cut off from the Enterprise—our two young cadets, a newly promoted Lieutenant Duke, Spock, Nurse Chapel, La’an, Doctor M’Benga, Sam Kirk, and Chief Hemmer—the crew realizes that this is not going to be an easy mission. Finding the Peregrine and the dismembered remnants of much of its crew, and a message for Starfleet to stay the hell away, what was meant to be a fun road trip suddenly becomes extremely bad for our heroes. And then it gets worse when “All Those Who Wander” reveals that its classic sci-fi riff this week isn’t a Star Trek episode plot, it’s Alien. With Gorn babies.
Now, Star Trek has done Alien riffs before of course, but this episode ramps up to a level of horror unlike anything we’ve seen the franchise really attempt. The audience and the crew find this out at the same time by watching in horror as an alien survivor the Peregrine picked up clutches his chest, only for it to violently explode with four blood-covered small Gorn—immediately and bloodily killing the poor Cadet Chia on the mission, and Lt. Duke shortly thereafter—and there’s an immediate tone change for the entire episode. This isn’t the dire stakes Strange New Worlds has put its heroes in before, but a complete and total compromise of who we thought these Starfleet heroes were. It’s matched by the presentation of the episode, a genuine episode of horror that is explicitly brutal, explicitly violent, and packed with blood and viscera that hammers home, fundamentally, that as good as these people are at their jobs, space is dangerous, and space will get you killed. Definitely when space is actually four rapidly growing feral lizard alien baby monsters intent on destroying either you or themselves to be the alpha of the litter.
It is, frankly, incredible. Not just for its pitch-perfect, rampant thievery of every great horror movie trope around as the Away team finds itself being hunted for bloodsport, but for all the ways this immediate, shocking confrontation with a scenario that cannot be handled with diplomacy and reason immediately breaks almost everyone available. Nurse Chapel, so capable and so used to confronting and healing the sick and wounded, is shaken to her core over Chia’s death, barely able to speak while La’an—herself forced to reckon with darker impulses and her past with the Gorn as she did in the similarly excellent “Momento Mori”—thrusts a phaser rifle into her hands. Sam Kirk almost immediately freaks out, picking fights and screaming at his friends, robbed of any composure expected of a Star Trek hero even in the face of great danger. Even Spock isn’t free of this, eventually breaking down his mental logic inhibitors to tap into a primal, emotional rage to fight the Gorn once the Away team re-unites and hatches a plan to survive. It’s as genuinely unnerving to watch these cracks emerge and splinter wider and wider open as the episode progresses as it is to watch the Gorn carve a gory path through the Peregrine.
It’s not just brilliant for its horror however, but the way this team is made up of characters we’ve gotten to spend individual highlight episodes with this season: La’an, Chapel, Spock, Uhura. This moment, unlike anything Strange New Worlds has tried before, serves as the catalyst to climax their respective arcs over the entire season, a challenge that can only be brought about by throwing them into a situation that asks them to compromise all standard ideas of Starfleet behavior and simply survive. It’s a remarkable contrast with the aforementioned prior Gorn episode of the series, “Momento Mori.” There, the Gorn were an unseen shadow, but one that asked our heroes to rise to this idea of hope as a thing to guide them against that shadow with grace: as long as they all believed the Enteprise would endure, it would. This episode, on the other hand, finds hope along a much more distinctly bleaker route, that you cannot simply believe in surviving but have to throw yourself wholly into doing so—and that in doing so you also accept that sometimes it’s never enough to get everyone out of a bad situation alive, and it’s just as heroic to come out of it down people but having actually endured.
And that’s what “All Those Who Wander” saves its most gut-wrenching lesson for: that the horror shift is not the only major form change for Strange New Worlds we get to witness this episode, but the earth-shattering presence of choice and consequence for a show that has largely breezed by them with its episodic format. Early on in the episode, Hemmer gets attacked with an acid spit from one of the Gorn, and everything seems fine except for some momentary shock and pain for the Aenar. And you think, maybe, Strange New World won’t hit this particular horror trope, that everything’s fine. After all, the episode has satiated its bloodlust by killing off the two obvious death flags: the cadet two weeks away from proverbial retirement, and the newly promoted rookie. You can’t touch half of the cast for their place in Trek canon, otherwise. You’re lulled into that sense of security, that hope and bravado that our Starfleet heroes pump themselves up with, that everything’s going to be fine.
Then it isn’t. When the Gorn are destroyed and the day not saved, but salvaged, Strange New Worlds has one heartbreak hammer blow left to deal: Hemmer had already realized, as had La’an having faced the Gorn before, that their acid spit is more than an attack, but away to infect a host with their eggs. Hemmer, accepting that this is his fate in the way all Aenar accept the end, decides to throw himself out of the Peregrine’s hangar bay, killing himself and ensuring that any Gorn hatchlings growing inside him will perish in the planet’s freezing environment. Even though Hemmer has had less to do in this first season than some of the other major cast members of the show, his death carries a weight here nonetheless—the same sort of scary, sea-changing disruption for Strange New Worlds at large as this episode of blood, gore, and horror was for the show’s tone. Things are suddenly that much more serious, and carry a disruptive weight that persists beyond the series’ beloved episodic structure.
We immediately get to feel those consequences beyond Hemmer’s loss, too. La’an decides to take an extended leave of absence from the Enterprise to help one of the Peregrine survivors, a young child, find their home beyond Federation borders. Spock, now unable to truly control his emotions again, finds himself and his relationship with Nurse Chapel changing in fundamental, and downright scary, ways. Even Uhura, so distraught by the loss of Hemmer, is left open-ended, unsure of whether to stay and put down roots aboard the Enterprise or leave as she originally intended, the episode ending on a lingering shot of her staring out at the comm station on the bridge—the future we know she will have one day—and it’s distinctly left up to interpretation as to whether she’s looking at it with pride or doubt.
It’s a bold ending to an incredible bold episode of the series—arguably, perhaps, its best in a very good opening season. Its malleability as an episodic series is both challenged and proved in “All Those Who Wander,” not just for the pitch-perfect tone pivot, but with the gravity of consequence it brought to match such a major change that its has born down upon its characters. Strange New Worlds has spent much of its first season firmly settling into that groove of riffs, familiarity, and individualized, walled-off stories. With this episode, it suddenly feels like everything has changed as much for the series as it has its heroes: right now, Strange New Worlds feels like it can do just about anything, and that’s one hell of a gauntlet to throw down in the penultimate episode of a season.
Philip K. Dick is one of the most important and influential science fiction authors of all time, having written masterpieces like The Man in the High Castle, Ubik, A Scanner Darkly, and the novels that inspired the movies Blade Runner, Minority Report, Total Recall, and more. Dick was also a very troubled man who suffered from drug abuse, hallucinations, a suicide attempt, and many other psychological ailments. Now the author’s tumultuous real life will get its own movie.
Based on a biography of the same name written by Paul Williams, who managed Dick’s literary estate after the author passed away in 1982, Only Apparently Real will be centered around an event in 1971, where Dick returned to his home and discovered his safe had been opened and the personal papers in it were missing. While it was initially investigated as a robbery, the police began to suspect Dick did it himself for unknown reasons. Either way, the culprit was never caught, and Dick wrote this about the event the next year:
“...the vast robbery and looting of my house a year ago in San Rafael, which caused me to move out of the United States while I thought it over. I came home one evening and found rubble and ruin, my locked files blown open, papers of every sort gone, stereo gone, virtually everything gone, windows and doors smashed. To this day I don’t know who did it. Robbery was not the motive; too many valueless items were taken, too much care to take correspondence and business records… the police to a certain extant [sic] favored the theory that I had done it myself. I didn’t. I to a certain extant [sic] favored the theory that they had done it…”
The film version has no director yet, but it will be produced by John Shestack (Air Force One, Waiting...). However, the Hollywood Reporter says “The project is being financed through a blockchain-based DAO,” so perhaps we don’t need to hold our collective breath.
Elizabeth Olsen, star of the recent Marvel hit movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, has not seen the recent Marvel hit movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It’s not that she doesn’t want to see it—after all, she played the Scarlet Witch in it—and it’s not she hasn’t had the opportunity to see it, because Marvel sent her a copy of the film to watch at home. But instead of just giving her a copy of the film, they sent one with a watermark on it so she couldn’t leak the movie online.
If you don’t know what I mean, a watermark is usually put on early screeners given to the press—often with the intended viewer’s name or email put prominently but semi-transparently over the movie/show. They can’t be photoshopped away, so that if the viewer wants to take screenshots or illegally upload the video somewhere, they can’t do it without identifying themselves as a leaker. Sometimes, studios also send out an early version of the film with the timecode on it, which counts the movie’s running time in real time, usually used for production but also a clear example that if it surfaced online it would be a bootleg and not a legitimate release.
It’s annoying to have to watch a show or movie with your name stuck in the middle of the screen, but it’s par for the course for big studios because they’re so afraid of spoilers getting out. And to be fair, when they send screeners out to press, the material is fully out of their control, so perhaps a bit of paranoia is justified. However, refusing to give actors un-watermarked copies of the films they starred in is bananas, but that’s what happened to Olsen when she asked for a copy of Multiverse of Madness to watch at home as she was sick during the movie’s premiere event. As Olsen related on last night’s episode of The Tonight Show:
“I’m not one of those [actors that doesn’t like to watch themselves act],” Olsen said. “I’m one of those people who likes to study something so I can figure out how to make it better. But I had a cold when we had the premiere and I didn’t want to sit through it. And so I asked them to send a copy so I could watch it, and it had my name on it and it had the time that I was watching it, and I didn’t want to watch it like that ... it’s just distracting.”
Fallon explained to Olsen that studios add watermarks to screeners to prevent illegal sharing online, to which the actor replied, “How do you even do that? Who do you even send it to? How do you even record it on a computer?”
Even if Olsen was bluffing and is secretly a torrenting master, it stands to reason that she’s professional enough to not wreck her relationship with Marvel Studios by handing out a screener with her name on it. There’s the even more salient fact that Olsen starred in the damn movie and knew most, if not all, of everything that happened in it; if she wanted to spoil the film she starred in, and would make more money if people watched it in theaters instead of a shitty version on their computers, she could have done it at any time. Olsen could have pretended she’d made a Tom Holland-esque gaffe.
It’s all really, really dumb. If Marvel Studios doesn’t trust the people they hire not to illegally upload screeners to the internet, then they probably shouldn’t have been hired in the first place. It’s incredibly insulting, especially to someone who had already starred in five Marvel movies andher own TV series without spoiling anything at all.
Surviving characters from the original film, played by the likes of Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Javier Bardem, and Rebecca Ferguson, are all expected to return along with newcomers played by Florence Pugh, Austin Butler, Léa Seydoux, and Christopher Walken. The film will adapt the second half of Frank Herbert’s epic novel, which will see Paul Attredis (Chalamet) learn the ways of the Freman on the way to not just ruling Arrakis, but the entire universe.
Speaking of ruling the universe, arguably the bigger news (in more ways than one) is that Warner Bros. has given a release date to a sequel to 2021's monster hit (again, in more ways than one) Godzilla vs. Kong. It’ll be out March 15, 2024.
Adam Wingard, who directed the first film, is back behind the camera and his Guest leading man, Dan Stevens, is the only major cast member that’s been announced so far. There’s no word on what the story will be this time but with Kong now living in an entirely different, subterranean upside-down world, maybe Godzilla has to help him defend that. Let’s just hope the human characters are a little smarter this time around. Not that it would matter. As long as giant monsters fight each other, audiences should be happy.
From Dune in November to Godzilla in March, it seems like late 2023-early 2024 is going to be very genre heavy at Warner Bros. Especially considering the musical Willy Wonka prequel Wonka, also starring Chalamet, opens December 15, 2023; the animated Wizard of Oz adaptation Toto opens February 2, 2024; the Lord of the Rings animated film The Battle of Rohirrim hits April 12, 2024; and then... some movie called Furiosa is out May 24, 2024. Yeah. Pretty solid genre lineup.
In a new round of what can only be described as entertainment industry news Mad Libs, the original artist behind a design appearing on a bootlegged Doctor Who t-shirt depicting Ncuti Gatwa’s new Doctor has made the design available properly, after it went viral this week being worn by Ryan Gosling on the set of the Barbie movie.
Yes, that’s one sentence, and all of it is somehow true. Gosling went viral earlier this week—beyond set pictures of him as Ken alongside Margot Robbie’s take on the iconic Mattel doll showing the duo in neon-bright skater outfits while shooting Barbie—thanks to a candid shot of the actor wearing a Doctor Who shirt celebrating Gatwa’s recent announcement as the latest incarnation of the Time Lord. Gatwa, who’s set to appear alongside Gosling and Robbie in Barbie, is shown in a mockup of a potential costume for his Doctor, above the current version of the show’s logo. But here’s the thing: he’s wearing what was clearly a quickly made bootleg of the design, because you can still see the original artist Matthew Purchase’s watermark over it:
Purchase decided to make the design—complete with watermark for full “Ryan Gosling on the set of Barbie” cosplay accuracy—available for sale on Redbubble, donating 50% of the sales of the shirt to the Goboka Rwanda Trust, a UK-based charity supporting aid relief for Rwandans. Naturally, the BBC wasn’t perhaps too pleased at first about what is a very weird turn of events, pulling Purchase’s shirt from sale. But now that not only has incoming/returning Who showrunner Russell T. Davies and the the show’s official accounts commented about the situation on social media, it looks like things have, for now at least, been re-resolved, as Purchase’s shirt is once again available to buy.
Fingers crossed it stays that way, so Purchase gets to raise money for a good cause, and we continue to get what has to be one of the weirdest bits of viral promo for the arrival of a new Doctor Who star ever. And that’s saying something!
2022 is halfway over and you have a lot of TV to catch up on. We say this knowing that it’s an undeniable fact. Every single person reading this has about 50 shows they’ve heard are great, but have not yet watched yet. And 2022 hasn’t helped by adding even more shows to the list. Show about sci-fi offices, potty mouthed superheroes, gay pirates, New Jersey fangirls, there’s a lot. So go ahead and click through to see what we think, of all the genre shows that have come out in 2022, the best are. So far.
Our Flag Means Death
Our Flag Means Death | Official Trailer | HBO Max
The high seas pirate comedy starring Rhys Darby as Stede, the gentleman pirate, and Taika Waititi as Blackbeard in a sweeping romance has stolen all our hearts. The motley crew misadventures from showrunner David Jenkins is a smart and inventive reimagining of pirate life that we can’t get enough of. With an ensemble of scene stealers, the humor and episodic escapades are filled with incredible moments from not only it’s stars but supporting cast including Vico Ortiz, Nathan Foad, Joel Fry, Samson Kayo, Samba Schutte, Kristian Nairn, Matthew Maher, Con O’Neill, Nat Faxxon, and Ewen Bremmer. With one season under its belt Our Flag Means Death is already a comfort favorite and probably our most watched show on HBO Max. - Sabina Graves
Severance — Official Trailer | Apple TV+
There are so many new shows these days that many of them slip through the cracks. But the good ones? The good ones generate buzz and demand you watch them to be part of the conversation. Such is the case with Severance, the Apple TV+ show with an incredible pedigree (executive producer and directed by Ben Stiller, starring Adam Scott, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken and John Turtorro among others) that was released a bit under the radar. But with each week more and more fans discovered the truth. Severance was an intense, fascinating, original sci-fi conceit that opened up levels of mystery and intrigue that really get audiences talking. All of it led to a jaw-dropping first season finale that gave audiences exactly 1% of what you had been waiting for, and 99% desire to see more and more of this fantastic show. Season 2 is in the works. - Germain Lussier
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds | Official Trailer | Paramount+
Coming out of the gate with what might be the strongest debut season of Star Trek ever—rivalling Lower Decks’ own fantastic start—Star Trek’s return to the U.S.S. Enterprise and a more episodic, retro-influenced storytelling format has made for a hell of a time. Riffs on classic Trek premises and simple, yet insightful character work has made Strange New Worlds feel like a breath of fresh air for the ever-expanding scope of current Star Trek, with a back-to-basics approach that’s given us some delightfully earnest sci-fi adventures. - James Whitbrook
Undone – Season 2 Official Trailer | Prime Video
Considering that the first season of Prime Video’s Undone featured one of the most weirdly satisfying cliffhanger endings ever, it almost felt wrong to dip back into Amazon’s lushly rotoscope-animated drama for more. But season two of the series—which stars Rosa Salazar and Bob Odenkirk as members of a Texas family with time-hopping and multiversal talents—took the story in surreal new directions, digging deep into a multi-generational saga about the emotional fallout of facing dark moments in the past... as well as the rewards and/or perils that come with fiddling around with them. Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksberg (BoJack Horseman)‘s series has yet to be renewed, and it may not be (this time, the story really does feel complete), but fans of adult animation and brain-twisting genre tales shouldn’t hold back on binging this one. (Prime Video) - Cheryl Eddy
Marvel Studios’ Ms. Marvel | Official Trailer | Disney+
As this is posted, Ms. Marvel has yet to finish its six episode first season but, we think it’s worthy of inclusion anyway. While most of the previous Marvel Studios streaming shows have centered on established characters (WandaVision, Hawkeye, Loki, Falcon and Winter Soldier) or a big name actor (Moon Knight), Ms. Marvel has neither luxury. It’s an origin show featuring a brand new actress which, on the surface, might be seen as a problem. However, Ms. Marvel treats it as an opportunity. Through the eyes of Kamala Khan, played by the charming, charismatic Iman Vellani, we see ourselves in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kamala is a huge MCU fan and as she begins to become a hero in a world that heroes exist, she’s a perfect avatar for the audience. Plus the show has such great inclusivity, beautiful production design, and energitic filmmaking, it’s very difficult not to love it. - Germain Lussier
Dead End: Paranormal Park
Dead End: Paranormal Park | Official Trailer | Netflix After School
Netflix’s adaptation of the wonderful supernatural/slice of life Hamish Steele comic DeadEndia provided a wonderfully breezy tale of found families, theme park mysteries, and the occasional demonic summoning and/or invasion. But its sweet heart, centred on the struggles of protagonist Barney as he dealt with everything from the aforementioned demons, falling in love with the perfect guy, and dealing with his family’s transphobia gave us the sort of challenging, relatable queer storytelling rarely seen in animated TV like this. - James Whitbrook
Spy x Family
SPY x FAMILY | MAIN TRAILER
A spy and an assassin form a marriage of convenience, but the only one who knows about their secret professions is their telepathic, 5-year-old daughter, who tries to help them with their missions without revealing her powers. It’s a wild premise, but it results in an anime series that is hilarious, action-packing, and still utterly heartwarming as the faux family slowly transforms into a real family, bound by a growing love for each other. It’s no wonder it’s one of, if the, most popular anime series of 2022 so far! - Rob Bricken
Stranger Things Season 4
Stranger Things 4 | Official Trailer | Netflix
The Duffer Brothers and Netflix juggernaut solidified its place in pop culture in with its 4th season outing. Stranger Things is back and breaks away from some of its nostalgia crutches to reveal a surprising endgame for Hawkins’ heroes. Eleven’s connection to Vecna’s history and the alliances she has to forge to save her friends has raised the stakes in ways that amp us up for season 5's series finale. However, we don’t count Max, Lucas, Mike, Will, Dustin, Nancy, Steve, Robin, Eddie and the gang out from rising to the challenge of taking matters into their own hands to save their town. - Sabina Graves
Peacemaker | Official Trailer | HBO Max
By 2022, it’s fairly obvious that James Gunn has his finger on the pulse. Movie after movie, the director has crafted stories that are exciting, funny, just a little bit wrong, and fans eat it up. With Peacemaker, he’s turned all of that up a few notches, telling a long form superhero story that is very exciting, very funny, and a whole lot of wrong. But that’s why we love it. John Cena reprises his titular role, first seen in Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, to lead a rag tag team of characters through a mission to save the world. It’s subversive, it’s weird, it’s surprising, it’s exactly the superhero show you’d expect from a filmmaker like Gunn. Plus? Great opening titles. - Germain Lussier
Evil | Official Trailer | Paramount+
Now in its third season, Evil manages to combine the slick production values of what still feels like a network show (it started on CBS but moved to Paramount+) with surprisingly complex characters (the excellent cast includes Katja Herbers, Mike Colter, Michael Emerson, and Christine Lahti), a storyline that blends monster-of-the-week procedurals (the main characters investigate paranormal phenomena for the Catholic Church) with ongoing arcs and dramas, and the utter fearlessness to just... get as bizarre and shocking as it damn well pleases. Season two’s nearly dialogue-free episode, “S Is for Silence,” was a creative standout for any series, much less one that regularly that deals with horny monsters and Satanic conspiracies and possessed children. This season’s ongoing theme is “Demons” (with episodes so far titled “The Demon of Memes,” “The Demon of Sex,” etc.), but Evil is so committed to its freaky-yet-somehow-also-classy storytelling that it barely feels like a gimmick at this point. - Cheryl Eddy
Disney+’s Making Of Shows
Marvel Studios’ Assembled: The Making of Moon Knight | Official Trailer | Disney+
We all love Disney’s Marvel and Star Wars projects but they’re so, so secretive. That means we generally don’t know anything about how they came together. Thankfully, for both Marvel and Star Wars projects, Disney+ has been creating really entertaining, insightful behind the scenes documentaries that are released on the platform after a season is over. For Marvel’s they’re called “Assembled” and for Star Wars they’re called “Gallery” but they’re the same thing. All access looks into the creation of these shows with all sorts of new information. They have been happening since the early days of Disney+, with The Mandalorian, but in 2022 we’ve seen episodes on The Book of Boba Fett, Hawkeye, Eternals, Moon Knight and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, with more certainly on the way for Ms. Marvel, Obi-Wan Kenobi and more. These shows are our best chance to lear about how these very secretive movies and shows are produced and they are produced very well.- Germain Lussier
Netflix has cast a whole pantheon for its upcoming, wild-sounding Greek god dramaKaos.See is returning to Apple TV+ for one final season. Rob Zombie teases another classic cameo in his Munsters movie. Plus, what’s coming on Stargirl’s third season. Spoilers get!
Deadline reports Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse are attached to star in Lisa Frankenstein, a romantic horror-comedy from writer Diablo Cody and director Zelda Williams. Set in 1989, the story follows “an unpopular high schooler who accidentally re-animates a handsome Victorian corpse during a lightning storm and starts to rebuild him into the man of her dreams using the broken tanning bed in her garage.”
Where’s Eddie you ask? Well, I’ll tell you! ☠️ My good buddy @the_real_butch_patrick_ is now in THE MUNSTERS as THE TIN CAN MAN. 🎥 I am thrilled to have another original Munster in my new film. Get ready for some robot fun 🤖! #robzombie #butchpatrick #themunsters #tincanman
On a recent episode of his radio show, a hot mic captured Howard Stern stating he’s currently working on a Doctor Doom movie with Jon Favreau but is “fucking miserable about it.”
Jordan Peele’s Nope has also been rated “R” for “language throughout and some violence/bloody images.” [Bloody-Disgusting]
Hugh Grant has been cast as Zeus, Janet McTeer as Hera, David Thewlis as Hades, Cliff Curts as Poseidon, Killian Scott as Orpheus, Nabhaan Rizwan as Dionysus and Misia Butler as Caneus in Kaos, a new Greek mythology series at Netflix. The story is said to concern Zeus as he wakes up one morning to discover “a wrinkle on his forehead. Neurosis then sets in, setting him off on a dangerous, paranoid path. Zeus becomes convinced his fall is coming—and starts to see signs of it everywhere. Zeus’ once reliable brother, Hades (Thewlis), God of the Underworld, is secretly [also] losing his grip on his dark dominion. There is a backlog of dead waiting to be processed and they are growing restless. Hera (McTeer), Queen of the Gods, exercises dominion on Earth—and over Zeus—in her own unique way. But her power and freedom become threatened by Zeus’ growing paranoia, and she is forced to act, while Zeus’ rebellious son, Dionysus, (Rizwan), is out of control and on course for a cosmic collision with his father. On Earth, people are aching for change. However, Poseidon (Curtis), God of Sea, Storms and Earthquakes—and Horses—is more concerned with the size of his super-yacht and where the next party is at. The well-being of mere mortals is of little interest to him. Unfortunately for the Gods, some of those mortals are beginning to realize this…These mortals – Riddy (Aurora Perrineau), Orpheus (Scott), Caneus (Butler) and Ari (Leia Farzad) – come from different walks of life and are all cosmically connected in the battle against Zeus. Each one has a very different role to play, and any one of them may be destined to bring down the God.”
Billie Piper, Rakie Ayola, and Stanley Townsend are additionally attached to the project in undisclosed roles. [Deadline]
Mr. And Mrs. Smith
Deadline also has word Michaela Coel, John Turturro, and Paul Dano have joined the cast of the Mr. And Mrs. Smith series in unknown roles.
NBC has released a new synopsis for the Quantum Leap reboot, premiering September 19.
It’s been nearly 30 years since Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. Now, a new team, led by physicist Ben Song (played by Kevin Can F**k Himself‘s Raymond Lee), has been assembled to restart the project in hope of understanding the mysteries behind the machine and the man who created it. Everything changes, however, when Ben makes an unauthorized leap into the past, leaving the team behind to solve the mystery of why he did it. At Ben’s side throughout his leaps is Addison (Caitlin Bassett), who appears in the form of a hologram only Ben can see and hear. She’s a decorated Army veteran who brings level-headed precision to her job.
Yes, you read that headline correctly: a $5,ooo drink. It comes served in a camtono, the bounty hunter accessory container most recently featured on The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett—which you can find it on Ebay for far less. So why is this drink, served only on the Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Wish, so special?
Camtono aside, it’s all still a mystery—as are the ingredients in the drink, dubbed “the Kaiburr Crystal,” which, again, goes for $5,000 and can only be ordered if you already happen to be sailing aboard the Wish. Star Wars fans with money to burn in this economy can take a taste of what one could assume to be rejuvenating Grogu blood for that price tag. No wonder Moff Gideon was on a mission. (Also: what an interesting Disney+ afterlife for the retrofitted ice-cream maker used for a moment in The Empire Strikes Back.)
Travelers aboard the Disney Wish can visit the Hyperspace Lounge, where the rest of the drinks are regular expensive; from the looks of the media preview, it’s like a Galactic Starcruiser-lite experience that just so happens to have a drink the price of an entire trip to a galaxy far, far, away. We can’t get over how unhinged the drink concept is on top of the cost of the cruise. The commodification of Star Wars here is truly astonishing and out of touch for the beloved stories it represents.
All Grogu blood jokes aside, as of the publishing of this story it remains unknown what type of top-shelf liquor comes included in a Kaiburr Crystal. The only one we think it can potentially be is the Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac (priced at $4,299.99), but it better come with the whole bottle and include a take-home camtono for whoever has those kind of galactic credits.
“It becomes the only storyline, particularly in a movie like this where you don’t, frankly, have a lot of room for storyline,” Thompson told Yahoo. “So there was a lot of conversation in terms of how to treat that with Valkyrie. And I feel really good, personally, about where we got to.”
“We talked about it a lot, it was big topic of conversation,” Thompson said. “Because I think rightfully there’s this real want in audiences to see characters be very clearly queer or LGBTQIA inside these spaces. And I think it’s hugely important to have representation.”
However, even if King Valkyrie doesn’t find her Queen in Thor: Love and Thunder, the actress believes it could happen in the future. “I hope that she’s a character that fans continue to connect to, that we have a lot of time to explore her, in all of her humanity,” she said. “But whether or not she finds love in this movie doesn’t mean she’s not still a fabulous queer character that is open to finding love when it makes sense.”
Here’s everything you need to know about Prime Video’s Paper Girls, the highly anticipated sci-fi YA adventure show adapting the Image Comics series from Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang. The streamer recently debuted an exciting first look at the show, which arrives next month. Keep reading for a quick crash course!
What is Paper Girls about?
In the late ‘80s, a group of teen girls encounter a band of teenage boys who don’t look like they’re from their town of Stony Stream, or even from their time. Erin, who’s new to the girls’ paper delivery route, doesn’t know who to trust as the group is thrust into danger and into the future when they stumble across a time machine hidden in a basement. They’re transported to the late 2010s, where these take-no-shit girls get to know each other while on the run from two warring time travel factions.
Their ‘80s energy is reminiscent of Amblin-esque tough kids as they encounter squads, sent by the “Old Timers,” of militarized time cops set on seizing them in order to restore the timeline order as they see fit. They also run into teen boys bent on breaking time-travel rules who claim to want to help them but tend to lead them toward more danger. Erin ends up encountering her adult self and she takes it upon herself to protect the out-of-time girls as they investigate clues to find out how to get back home to their childhoods.
Who are the Paper Girls?
Riley Lai Nelet stars as Erin Tang, who’s the character the comic follows in its first volume. We pick up on her experience as the new girl in town on her first morning on the paper delivery route when she meets other other Paper Girls. They don’t get off on the right foot as she abrasively clashes with rude boys and needs some saving when the other girls thankfully step in. She’s considered weak by Mac Coyle, played by Sofia Rosinsky; Mac was the first paper delivery girl and is the de facto leader of the group, whose members look after each other in the wee hours of the morning when on their routes. The rest of the core group includes Tiffany Quilkin (Camryn Jones), who is the gamer and tech nerd who outfits them with walkie-talkies, and the athletic smart one, KJ Brandman (Fina Strazza). In the trailer we see that adult Erin (Ali Wong) plays a big part in getting involved with the displaced-in-time teens.
Should you read the comics?
In short: yes! Brian K. Vaughan wanted to write a female-centered take on a sci-fi coming of age story in the vein of Stand By Me and War of the Worlds after his stint on Marvel’s Runaways. The resulting time-travel mystery mashes up nostalgia with futuristic scenarios akin to Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future films. It’s illustrated by Cliff Chiang, and published by Image Comics. It began its run on October 7, 2015 and ended on July 31, 2019 upon release of its 30th and final issue. It’s currently unknown how much past the first 10 issues the show will utilize for the series’ first season.
When does it come out?
Paper Girls is set to start streaming on Prime Video weekly starting July 29. The series was adapted by Stephany Folsom, who’s also on the streamer’s upcoming hot property The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power; Folsom was originally set to co-run the series, but stepped down last year, leaving Christopher C. Rogers (Halt and Catch Fire, Lodge 49) as the sole showrunner.
Space-time regulators the Commission played a major role in the first two seasons of Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, sending teams of assassins to try and prevent the Hargreeves family from stopping a pair of apocalyptic events. With the elimination of power-hungry boss lady the Handler (Kate Walsh) at the end of season two, we didn’t get as much Commission time in season three. But we did see what kind of chaos reality can slip into without their oversight, not to mention their handy supply of time-travel briefcases.
Time Variance Authority
Play too fast and loose with the Sacred Timeline in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—as Loki did in Disney+ series Loki—and chances are good you’ll run afoul of the Time Variance Authority. The TVA is equipped with foot soldiers (called “Minutemen”), its own array of judges, agents (like Owen Wilson’s Mobius M. Mobius)—and even a chipper cartoon mascot, Miss Minutes, who helpfully doles out exposition any time the plot inches toward becoming completely confusing.
Time Enforcement Commission
Timecop Trailer 1994
Timecop—based on a tale from Dark Horse Comics—imagines that in the near future, not only is time travel possible, it’s caused enough calamitous problems to warrant its own time-hopping law-enforcement branch. Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a DC cop turned Time Enforcement Commission agent tasked with investigating a senator who’s (surprise!) abusing his time-travel access for personal gain. Cheesy? Yes! Entertaining? Also yes!
Dimensional Time Cops
First glimpsed in the second season of Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty, these testicle-looking dudes have popped up on occasions when someone (Rick, a snake adopting technology it has no business using, Albert Einstein, etc.) looks like they might need a threat of Time Prison or perhaps a humiliating beatdown to set them straight.
Department of Temporal Investigations
A pair of agents from the Department of Temporal Investigations drop by to have a stern chat with Benjamin Sisko in iconic Deep Space Nine time-travel episode “Trials and Tribble-ations” (read a full retrospective here!), while temporal agents and temporal incursions have also appeared elsewhere. This is Star Trek, after all! Enterprise, for instance, featured a temporal agent named Daniels, played by Matt Winston—and Voyager once sent Seven of Nine on a time-skipping adventure involving the USS Relativity, staffed by members of the Temporal Integrity Commission.
The first season of Adult Swim’s gory, surreal Superjail! gave us a two-part finale in which the prison’s sadistic warden finds himself in trouble over his future crimes—specifically his desire to turn his Superjail into a franchise. The Time-Police (who like to sing their dialogue; later, we see they’re in a rock band together) show up the instant the idea pops into his head and transport him to Time Court, where it’s revealed that the existence of Superjail franchises would spark a devastating global war. Next stop: Time Jail! A place far easier to bust out of than Superjail, as it turns out!
With all the wacky timeline breaking on Legends of Tomorrow, the Time Bureau (which replaced the Time Masters in season three, but didn’t last until the series’ seventh and final season) was a necessary if sometimes interfering presence. Its director, Ava Sharpe, ended up marrying Legends team leader Sara Lance, so at least a happy ending came out of it.
The Adjustment Bureau
The Adjustment Bureau Trailer
You knew at least one Philip K. Dick adaptation was bound to appear on this list. The Adjustment Bureau follows a politician (Matt Damon) whose attempts to woo the woman of his dreams (Emily Blunt) are thwarted by a mysterious organization of men in hats and overcoats that stamps out any alterations to “the plan” put forth by “the Chairman”—because the plan is for Damon’s character to become President of the United States. No romance allowed!
Predestination- Official Trailer 2015
Based on a Robert Heinlein story, Predestination takes a pretzeled path in its examination of a Temporal Agent (Ethan Hawke)—basically, a government-sanctioned, time-traveling assassin—who zips through decades while trying to prevent a bombing, then becomes entangled with different versions of himself along the way.
Vice Presidential Action Rangers
On Futurama, we learn that Al Gore heads up “a group of top nerds whose sole duty is to prevent disruptions in the space-time continuum” (it’s real, read the Constitution!). This superteam also includes Nichelle Nichols, Gary Gygax, Stephen Hawking, and chess-playing computer Deep Blue. Though they happen to be skilled at murder, they utterly fail at stopping Fry from destroying the universe, but—good news, everybody!—this happens on a “what if?” anthology episode that doesn’t affect Futurama’s own main timeline.
This fact has been covered in media before but a new oral history of Contact celebrating its 25th anniversary over at Vulture dives much deeper into Miller’s journey. The director of Mad Max boarded the project in 1993 and, a year later, read the adapted screenplay by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan. He loved it and began developed a movie that, according to eventual star Jodie Foster, was much different from the eventual film director Robert Zemeckis would make.
“The George Miller movie was very different,” the Oscar winner told Vulture. “It was an incredibly long script—like, 200 pages. It was crazy. It felt a little bit more like Lorenzo’s Oil or had even moments of, like, Eraserhead.” Druyan, who created the story along with Sagan, echoed those sentiments. “It was stranger—because that was the idea,” she said. “The universe is strange. There were scenes with, like, roadkill that you wouldn’t think were right on the path of the story but which I felt had the power to expand the viewer’s consciousness.”
Several writers worked with Miller on various versions of a script, adding relationships and characters along the way, but Miller never quite felt it was right. “[Writer Michael Goldenberg’s] script was terrific,” producer Lynda Obst said. “Then I gave it to George, and he liked it, but he wanted to keep working on it. So we had our big contretemps: ‘George, are you going to make this movie this year?’ And George was like, ‘Probably, if the script is there.’ And the studio executives said, ‘Well, we think the script is there.’ And he says, ‘Well, I don’t think it’s there yet.’”
Obst explained that because the studio and Miller were not seeing eye to eye, they held a very important meeting. “He came into this meeting with a very complicated diagram about what he wanted to do with the script,” she said. “They said, ‘George, will you commit to shooting this movie by Christmas?’ This was the do-or-die moment. We were all praying he would say yes. He said no. I remember sinking into my chair.” Robert Zemeckis was hired the next day and the rest is history.
So what was the issue? What about Contact did Miller think was not quite there? Obst thinks she knows. “George Miller couldn’t commit to the movie, I think, because he couldn’t figure out 100 percent what he wanted for the ending,” she said. “Everybody had their own idea about what it should be.”
Miller didn’t comment on Vulture’s excellent story but, a few years ago, did talk to Collider about his version of Contact which got within one meeting of becoming a reality. “One of the peak moments of my life was to spend a year with Carl Sagan, because he and Ann Druyan wrote that screenplay, and it was just absolutely wonderful to meet those scientists and talk about the movie,” the Fury Road director said back in 2015. “But as time went on, it was clear that Warners weren’t prepared to do the movie that I was interested in making. It was gonna be safer, so we agreed to part ways. Then somebody sent me the screenplay they were going to make, and it basically regressed into a much safer, more predictable thing.” He believes his movie would have been more like Interstellar than Contact.
The great thing about leveraging nostalgia to sell toys is that your customer base is all grown up with jobs and disposable money for making exorbitant purchases. This isn’t the first time Hasbro has resurrected the Cobra HISS tank from its classic G.I. Joe ‘80s toy line, but it is the first time the company has scaled it up, added loads of detailing, and is charging $300 for it.
But unlike the Skystriker that was scaled to the 3-3/4" G.I. Joe O-ring figures from the ‘80s, the new Cobra HISS is scaled for Hasbro’s newer and larger six-inch figures, so it measures in at 19 inches long and almost 11 inches tall.
Tiny LED lights weren’t cheap enough to be extensively used in kids’ toys in the ‘80s, but the new Cobra HISS takes full advantage of the technology now with a detailed dashboard for the driver that includes glowing panels and even a light-up targeting screen.
To further taunt the G.I. Joe troops, the new Cobra HISS throws any attempt at a stealthy attack out the window with a completely unnecessary accessory on the front that projects the Cobra logo onto the ground in front of the tank. It’s ridiculous, and we want it.
The feature that anyone who grew up playing with the original toy and its faux tank treads will appreciate most is that the new Cobra HISS includes a fully working tank tread system with wheels and sprockets that roll along as the vehicle does.
It all sounds like a fantastic upgrade, but the new Cobra HISS won’t ever see the light of day if 8,000 fans don’t head on over to the Hasbro Pulse website and back the project. At the time of writing, just hours after the project went live, it’s been backed by over 900 people so far. If the Cobra HISS does reach its backer goal before 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday, July 6, Hasbro will include an “G.I. JOE Classified Series Cobra HISS Tactician figure,” but if it doesn’t, like the Star Wars Rancor before it, the tank simply won’t go into production.
Last we leftMs. Marvel’s Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), her fight with the reckless ClanDestine and the apparent revelation that she inherited her power from Djinn left her very shaken. To rattle her world further, her grandmother Sana (Samina Ahmad) implored her to go to Karachi. Not only did Kamala see the vision of the Partition-era Karachi train when Najma (Nimra Bucha) grabbed her bangle, but so did her grandmother? What’s so imperative about this that she must travel all the way to Pakistan?
We immediately open the episode showing Kamala on a plane going into Karachi with her mother Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff), whom she has some lingering tension with from last week’s wedding. Muneeba has acceded to her mother’s demands that they both travel to Pakistan, at least–she might have lingering tension as well with her own mother, but she’s a devoted daughter first. Kamala’s cousins Zainab and Owais (Vardah Aziz and Asfandyar Khan, respectively) welcome them at the airport near the crack of dawn, along with her Nani Sana, who sweetly embraces her and Muneeba, as she is just coming from a party. But of course, she has to note that Muneeba’s skin is dry. Alas, the standards are always too high in Asian families.
They arrive at Sana’s (large) house, where Sana shows Kamala her art room. She has painted and drawn many pieces of art borne out of the trauma of Partition. It’s a resonant scene as Ahmed masterfully gives a nuanced and poignant performance–but we have to interrupt this grounded resonance when Kamala brings up the bangle to her, and Sana casually says that she is indeed a Djinn, or at least, that’s the story Sana’s father told her as a child. Kamala immediately speaks for me when she responds “How are you so casual about this?”
But Sana seems to have always taken it in stride. “It’s just genetics,” she says, and that the only important thing about the bangle is how it saved her life as a child during Partition. She implores Kamala to figure out what the meaning is of the vision of the train, more to Kamala’s frustration, as Vellani continues to be a powerhouse in her first acting role. But her grandmother reassures her that she’ll be able to figure out the puzzle, even if there are so many pieces. Kamala then goes to a restaurant with her cousins and mom, meeting up with Auntie Rukhsana. Afterwards, as Kamala goes through a bazaar with her cousins, she learns about the first residences made for immigrants and refugees from India during Partition. Through Pakistani director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s eyes, we get to see her home country in a beautiful light, bustling with people simply living their lives, making delicious food and clothing, and overall being welcoming. But Kamala wants to go to the train station to investigate the vision (not telling her cousins) and decides to go ahead without them and meet up later.
As Kamala arrives at the station, she puts her domino mask on, and almost immediately a dagger flies past her head and lands on a wall painting of Ant-Man. We then meet Kareem, aka Red Dagger (Aramis Knight), who says he’s been searching for her, and found her because he sensed her “Noor,” the essence Najma told her about in the last episode. They then immediately get into a fight, and Kamala seems to display some more prowess with her powers, even using her hard light projections to block a dagger. She finds that he knows about the ClanDestine and Aisha, and then they start working together and escape from the police coming to break up their brawl. Red Dagger takes Kamala through a restaurant to the Red Daggers’ (plural) hideout. It’s a gorgeous turquoise hideout filled with beautiful Pakistani architecture. Usually, they wouldn’t bring in an outsider, but Waleed (Farhan Akhtar) says that he must invite a descendant of Aisha’s. Apparently, Aisha’s story is of legend to the Red Daggers. They’re an ancient order whose purpose is “To protect our people from threats of the unseen.”
Comic fans will know the Red Dagger (Laal Khanjeer in Urdu)/Kareem quite well. He’s one of Kamala’s love interests that she meets on her trip to Karachi. Kareem was never part of an ancient order as it’s portrayed here though; he came up with the persona of Red Dagger himself, and learned his moves via YouTube. He’s like Kamala in that they both are teens amateurly figuring out this hero thing. But he also serves as an interesting contrast to her own conduct as a hero. When she tries to intervene to help as Ms. Marvel, he lets her know that she doesn’t know enough about the situation in Karachi to help. She might be Pakistani, but she’s also American, and didn’t grow up in Pakistan as he did. It’s a fascinating and nuanced showing of the difference between diaspora and resident Pakistanis, as Kamala learns that she can’t know everything about a supposedly “criminal” situation, and that’s OK. What’s important is that she listens and learns. It would be interesting if the show introduced this angle for our young hero but we may simply not have time this season for it. Due to, you know, the Noor Dimension.
But back to said show. These threats the Red Daggers face include the ClanDestine, who, as Waleed says, are not like the Djinn any of us have heard about in stories or religious texts, and says that if Thor landed in the Himalayan mountains, “he too would have been called a Djinn.” Which is a roundabout way of saying, none of these brown or Muslim people are actually Djinn! Huzzah! But this also begs the question, if we were going to bring up Djinn at all, why toss the concept away so quickly and leave Muslim viewers to still have to deal with this discomfort? It remains a puzzling choice for episode three, “Destined” and I wish the show had never brought them up at all if the concept of Djinn wasn’t going to be a throughline anyway. While I understand what the creators were going for through including this discomfort for Kamala and some viewers to ultimately get a (relatively quick) release, I still hold that this aspect just wasn’t needed for the show with the first headlining Muslim superhero. It ended up not really going anywhere and seemed to only make Muslim viewers understandably uncomfortable.
Waleed further explains that the ClanDestines and Aisha are indeed from another dimension, among many unseen, showing Kamala a map of their plane of existence. He then shows her “wall of Noor” that separates their realm from the ClanDestine dimension, which is also powered by Noor. If the ClanDestine get what they want with the bangle opening the wall of their dimension, they’ll unleash their world onto ours until it completely overtakes it. Definitely not advisable, as Waleed says, who further notes to Kamala that the inscription on the bangle says “What you seek is seeking you.” Meanwhile, back in the U.S. at the Department of Damage Control (DODC) max security prison, we see Kamran and the ClanDestine being abused by prison guards–only for them all to quickly overwhelm their captors and escape. Kamran is knocked out in the process, but the real hurt comes when he comes to, as Najma decides that the other ClanDestine should abandon him for previously trying to help Kamala. Ouch!
Back in Karachi, Kamala meets Sana on the rooftop of the house during the Call to Prayer. As Kamala expresses doubt about what she’s finding on her journey, Sana sweetly notes to her “Even at my age, I’m still trying to figure out who I am. My passport is Pakistani, my roots are in India,” and notes that this is all due to British colonization anyway: “There is a border marked with blood and pain,” she says. “People are claiming their identity based on an idea some old Englishman had when they were fleeing the country.” Samina Ahmad is an amazing actress who brings a real majesty to the show and wonderful interactions with Kamala, and the best scenes in this episode are undoubtedly between granddaughter and grandmother. Anything otherworldly can wait, to be honest, as the show consistently shows that it’s strongest in its nuanced and humanistic moments with family and friends.
Kareem (as a civilian) takes Kamala to meet his friends on a beach around a fire, where they have biryani (aka, a perfect food). Kamala worries if it’s too spicy, but thankfully it’s not, and she gets to enjoy her time making some resident Pakistani friends as one of them sings beautifully in Urdu. Again, these interpersonal moments are where the show works best. But back at Sana’s house, Muneeba and her mother finally start to work through their issues. Muneeba reveals that part of the reason she left for America was because she was “continuously shunned by the neighbors because of my crazy mother and her wild theories,” and that she ultimately felt abandoned in a way with her mother’s obsessions. While Shroff once again gives a compelling performance, I’m not sure why Sana espousing these theories to the degree that her family is shunned and her mother ignored her because of them entirely makes sense. Maybe there’s more to the story? But for now, it’s puzzlingly left untouched outside of Muneeba’s comment. That said, it at least concludes with another great moment between Kamala and her mother sharing toffees, and the catharsis of having confronted Sana lets Muneeba strengthen her relationship with her own daughter.
After spending time with her mother Kamala returns to the Red Dagger hideout, where Waleed says that her genetics could be the answer to why she can “shape the Noor” in our dimension. He then gives Kamala a vest that she’ll presumably use to make her costume–only for the moment to be interrupted when the ClanDestine attack, looking to steal Kamala’s bangle! We still have no idea what the rush is to open the dimension but they really want it regardless. Kamala escapes from them with Waleed and Kareem, but they come in hot pursuit on the streets of Karachi where Kamala succeeds in using her Noor powers to avoid hitting a family and derails one of the ClanDestine’s trucks. Tragically, Najma kills Waleed as he protects Kamala and Kareem, and they make a final stand against them. Kamala seems far more skilled in using her powers, as opposed to the last fight. But not even that can stop Najma–even as Kareem gets the upper hand against the ClanDestine, Najma manages to stab Kamala’s bangle with a knife, immersing her back into the vision of the train… except it’s no longer a vision, and Kamala has fully landed back in Partition-era India! It’s an incredibly harrowing scene and nothing like has ever been on Disney+, let alone Marvel’s series for the platform, with huge crowds of people desperately clamoring onto the last train to Karachi. That’s where the episode ends, and I can only hope that we see the depiction of this traumatic time period handled well and with care next week.
“Seeing Red” is a mostly compelling episode that shines most when it focuses (once again) on the intimate and nuanced moments between Kamala and her family. This is where the show is at its strongest, particularly in this episode’s context of explaining the traumas of Partition and the lingering effects it has on Sana and her family. While some of the scenes with the Red Daggers were sweet and fun, the exposition on the “Noor dimension” tended to sink rather than swim, and the ClanDestine’s rush to open a door to it still makes little sense. It’s easy to feel whiplash with this show, appreciating it for its nuanced depictions of Pakistani and Muslim culture, but then feel disoriented by the over-exposition on the apparent sources of Kamala’s powers. Hopefully next week the answers become clearer and more grounded as Kamala’s relationships with her family and friends.
If there’s one thing the villains of theStar Warsgalaxy are good at, it’s cheating death. That’s both true in the fiction of the franchise as well as real-life, apparently, because Obi-Wan Kenobiseries writer Stuart Beattie has revealed that the show’s antagonist, Reva (Moses Ingram), was supposed to die.
In an interview with the Direct, Beattie revealed the Third Sister of the Sith Inquisitors’ fate was to die at the hands of Darth Vader after saving Obi-Wan in a moment of redemption. She was also not going to know who was in Darth Vader’s suit, which makes more sense to me than Reva putting two and two together and figuring out Anakin Skywalker, the jerk who rolled up to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant and murdered her fellow Younglings, would also be the jerk in the big shiny suit of robot armor, something even Obi-Wan didn’t do. From the interview:
“Yeah, except the only little difference in mine [from the TV show version] was she didn’t know Darth Vader was Anakin. Cause I was like, ‘How’d she know that?’ All she saw was Anakin as Anakin because he hadn’t changed in the suit yet, right? So Anakin killed her friends, put the scar on her, almost killed her, left her for dead, basically. So, in her mind, the Jedi Council were the biggest villains in the galaxy. She believed the lies that they were plotting a coup to overtake and get power and all that, but they were stopped by the Clones. So she believed that’s why she’s hunting Jedi, because she believed the Jedi are the worst, basically.”
It’s worth noting that the Jedi are the worst, being incompetent enough to notice a Sith Lord in their midst, cruel enough to leave the mother of their most promising student in slavery, and foolish enough to believe that loving people was a bad idea for its members to engage in. Anyway, according to Beattie, Obi-Wan was going tell Reva about Darth Vader’s true identity and she was going to realize she’d been working for the same guy who’d murdered all her friends those many years ago, turning her into a good guy:
“And so she goes and basically saved Kenobi by sacrificing herself, telling Vader, ‘I killed Kenobi.’ And then Vader killed her, [with her] knowing that Vader would kill her. So, that kind of completed her arc...
“...I wanted her story to end. I wanted Reva to play her part in the Kenobi-Vader story, which was, essentially, at the end, she was the one that allowed Vader, basically told Vader to stop hunting Kenobi. You know, she ended the obsession Vader had with Kenobi. She claimed it was over, it’s done. So that was, that was her role to play. And she’d done so many terrible things, I felt she had to die [laughs]. You can only redeem so much.”
I’m not sure I’m a fan of Darth Vader believing Obi-Wan was dead, because that wouldn’t jibe particularly well with A New Hope and Vader not mentioning anything about his former master suddenly being alive. Regardless, the reason for the change, apparently, was so that Ingram and her character could appear in a second season of the show, should that come to fruition.
The whole interview is worth a read, especially as it covers the initial plans for the other Inquisitors in the show, how Reva’s story weirdly mirrored one in the game Jedi: Fallen Order, and much more. Check it out!
Prime Video’s Paper Girls adaptation for Amazon just dropped a trailer that makes the beloved characters from Saga’s Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s critically acclaimed graphic novel series jump right out of the comics and onto our screens.
It’s eerie how these perfectly cast teens look and sound exactly like what you’d imagine the Paper Girls to be. The show stars Riley Lai Nelet as Erin Tang, Sofia Rosinsky as Mac Coyle, Camryn Jones as Tiffany Quilkin, and Fina Strazza as KJ Brandman. It joins the streamer’s slate of comic book adaptations alongside The Boysand Invincible—watch the teaser below!
Paper Girls - Teaser Trailer | Prime Video
The time-travel mystery brings together four girls on a fateful morning after Halloween and transports them to the recent past of 2019. I’m impressed by how the young cast embodies the bold spunk of the teen girls from the ‘80s. We only get quick glimpses of them but they’re already believable as the misfit squad who have to face the surreal nature of being chased by far future enemies in a time that’s not their own. Thankfully they encounter adult Erin, played by Ali Wong, who already makes the energy of the character her own by imbuing a stronger and sharper take on what was presented in the comics.
Combining a coming of age story with sci-fi genre fare makes for an exciting first look. We dig the vibe that fits alongside popular shows like Stranger Things and Yellowjackets. It’s worth mentioning, however, that the Image comic predates both shows and ran from 2015-2019; it centered around the motley crew of bike-riding Paper Girls who get thrust throughout time in a war between two time-traveling factions. The Old-Timers, led by a mysterious leader, are hot on the trail of our girls when they end up in 2019; they also encounter a faction of future teens who they need to determine if they can trust, which is hard when they unleash some Cronenberg bug action on one of the girls. (We see the bugs being released for a frame of the teaser.) The show also features Nate Corddry as a stranger they meet on their journey.
Quick alliances and friendships have to form for any chance or survival for the Paper Girls. We love to see the fate of humanity rest in the hands of teen girls. They’re our only hope.
Paper Girls begins streaming July 29 on Prime Video.
A24 has released a new deleted scene from the Daniels’ smash-hit maximalist feast of Michelle Yeoh excellence and head-spinning alt-universe theories, taken from the film’s climactic action sequence. In the scene, Yeoh’s character, put-upon laundromat owner-turned-multiversal warrior Evelyn Wang, is trying to save her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) from accepting complete and total oblivion by jumping into an unending void shaped like an everything bagel, because... well, just roll with it for now.
As Evelyn finds herself beset by other warriors from across the multiverse inhabiting the bodies of people around her in an attempt to stop her from reaching Joy, she finds herself tapping into her latent martial abilities and then some, not to brutalize, but provide a semblance of peace to these interdimensional wanderers just as she has gained over the course of the film.
Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022 Movie) - Special Feature “Final Fight”- Michelle Yeoh
The new extended version of the scene, glimpsed above, gives Evelyn two more warriors to therapeutically tussle with—one, from a reality where Evelyn became a kung fu master and movie superstar not unlike Yeoh herself, and the other in the body of Debbie the Dog Mom, played by Jenny Slate. An obnoxious customer at the laundromat Evelyn and her husband own, Slate’s character was previously credited as “Big Nose,” based on a derogatory description Evelyn makes of her in the movie—a credit that was updated for the film’s digital release, after concerns that it could be perceived as perpetuating Jewish stereotypes.
For all those people who still lie awake at night, eyes wide open, unable to sleep, because they still can’t figure out how the CW’s Superman & Lois fits into the larger Arrowverse, I have to assume you finally got a good night’s sleep after last night’s season two finale. Or maybe didn’t, because the answer the show gave is... hoo boy.
If you’ve been sleeping contentedly, believing that Superman & Lois has taken place in the main Arrowverse this entire time since it stars the very same actors playing Superman and Lois—Tyler Hoechlin and Bitsie Tulloch—I regret to inform you that you’ve been living a lie. True fans haven’t been sure of the show’s Arrowverse status because, well, in S&L Clark Kent and Lois Lane have two teenaged boys, never mentioned in any of their many appearances in the crossovers, and just as importantly there’s never been any other Arrowverse hero mentioned on the series... with the exception of Arrow mainstay John Diggle (David Ramsey), who stopped by last night’s finale. But, as it turns out, that wasn’t Arrow’s Diggle. Nor is it the Arrowverse’s Superman and Lois, as confirmed by a small speech General Sam Lane, Lois’ father, gave to his grandchildren:
“I’ve been working for the DOD for a long time. I’ve seen things you would not believe—glimpses of other worlds, and the leagues of superheroes they have on them. And even though we only have your father on this planet, thank God that we do, because he’s the finest of any Earth.”
The key takeaways here are the fact there’s no League of superheroes, Justice or otherwise, in the universe that S&L takes place, which is patently untrue of the Arrowverse proper. That’s because the S&L world only has a Superman, meaning there are no other superheroes around. Now, if you’re wondering why the show’s power couple looks and acts exactly like the Superman and Lois of the Arrowverse, or how Diggle could stop by, showrunner Todd Helbing gave an explanation to TV Line although I’m not sure how satisfying it’ll be:
“We have to think about this as a separate Superman, a doppelganger of the one who was in the Arrowverse. I understand why everyone has been wanting the references, but it would have felt wrong.” As for Diggle: “This is also a new Diggle. David Ramsey had grown a beard and grew his hair out. He called me and said, ‘I’ve been growing my hair, I look different. Do you want me to shave and get a haircut?’ So not to add more confusion to it, but he’s a different Diggle.”
Doppelgangers? Sure. While it might be annoying to some to have gotten invested in the Arrowverse’s Man of Steel only to discover the hero’s solo show starred a different incarnation, this is exactly the sort of thing the idea of a Multiverse allows for. Admittedly, bringing in a, but not the, Diggle only serves to muddy the waters, and I think this idea of Superman & Lois being separate would have been served better by not bringing another character who looks and acts identically (other than that all-important haircut and beard) to his Arrowverse counterpart, but oh well.
Bryan Fuller thinks there might be a future for more Hannibal. Chucky season 2 has found its Glen and Glenda. Plus, what’s to come in Westworldand the penultimate episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, plus a new clip from Ms. Marvel. Spoilers now!
Variety reports Scoot McNairy has joined the cast of Marielle Heller’s were-dog movie, Night Bitch, starring Amy Adams. Details on his character are not available at this time.
Deadline has word Jacob Batalon, Alana Boden, Adain Bradley, Avantika, Humberly González, and Wolfgang Novogratz will star in Horrorscope, a new horror film from the writers of Moonfall in which “a group of college friends who begin dying in ways connected” to their horoscopes.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
Max Raphael, Zoe Renee, Ayomide Adegun, Kaitlyn Akinpelumi, and Amelie Hoeferle have joined the cast of the Hunger Games prequel as Festus Creed from District 4, Lysistrata Vickers from District 12, Pliny “Pup” Harrington from District 7, Domita Whimsiwick from District 10, and Vipsania Sickle from District 7, respectively. Sofia Sanchez has additionally joined the cast as Wovey, a tribute from District 8. [Deadline]
The Mutilator 2
Bloody-Disgusting also reports filming has wrapped on Buddy Cooper’s sequel to his 1986 slasher film, The Mutilator. Terry Kiser, Damian Maffei, Ruth Martinez, and Bill Hitchcock are attached to star.
Barbie and Ken go roller skating in newly-leaked set photos. Click through to see more.
Gray Man and Marvel Studios movie scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are attached to adapt Simon Stålenhag’s illustrated dystopian novel. The writer and artist is known for Tales from the Loop, which became a much-praised RPG and later a show.
Electric State centers on “an orphaned teenager (Brown) who traverses an American West that is reminiscent of a retro-future with a sweet but mysterious robot and an eccentric drifter in search of her younger brother,” according to the report. Brown, who has more Stranger Thingsarriving at the end of this week, previously starred in Netflix’s Enola Holmes and is set to reprise her role in its upcoming sequel as well.
Stranger Things 4 Vol. 2 is almost upon us, and with that comes an onslaught of creative brand tie-ins and merch to celebrate. Since the release of Vol. 1 a number of brands have incorporated the Netflix series onto an assortment of goods, including ‘80s-style toys and character-inspired fashions, which make sense, to weirder selections like kitchen sponges and frozen in-universe foods.
Check out the most interesting and bizarre things you can find in retailers like Target, Walmart, Hot Topic, Box Lunch, PetSmart, and more!
Let There Be Light
Energizer® Stranger Things Demogorgon Hunting Flashlight
Energizer really debuted a retro flashlight to hunt Demogorgons with. You can spot this one at Target or Walmart.
Be Kind Rewind
Definitely not as cute or iconic as the Scoops Ahoy costumes from season three, but if you want to channel video store Steve, there’s a lazy costume at Hot Topic for ya!
Blast From the Past Pizza
This one is wild: frozen pizzas from the show’s in-universe Surfer Boy Pizza . This is also the hardest item to find. It was available at Walmart in stores but it seems you can still order the four packs online.
More Pizza Placement
Domino’s Mind Ordering
Okay, so a not-time-period-accurate promotion for an app where you can order a pizza with your mind, which is a stretch. Mind-order Domino’s here.
Clearly used to clean the Upside Down gunk. Find them here.
Wash the Dishes Or the Demogorgon Will Get You
We’ll take our chances while we binge all of Vol. 2. Find at Hot Topic.
Hopper Should Have Sent These to Joyce
Because Russian dolls, right? Find these nesting ones here.
Look at the Lights
Before Vol. 1 dropped this seemed like it was just a 1980s toy cash grab but now we know it’s a cash grab with a purpose.
Laboratory Home Decor
If you want the cute patterns from the experiment playroom scenes check out this line from Kitsch.
QUIKSILVER x STRANGER THINGS || STRANGE SURFING
Quicksilver really shot an entire short surf film that’s in the universe of the series to showcase its release of fashion we saw the Hawkins kids wear. It’s a very well done line that did have Max’s sweater but has since sold out.
Maximum Nostalgia Effort From the Gap
I don’t know whether to be mad at how minimal this is or think it’s pure genius for having the audacity to do a line in this style.
Thankfully Not Upside Down
Best believe these are buttery soft though and available on an array of undergarment styles over at MeUndies.
This Elegorgon collectible from the Netflix x iam8bit collab mashing up the show’s hero and one of its villains is bizarre but neat. It does have a hefty price tag, however.
Going Back to School
Is it clever to just flip your logo upside down? Jansport takes us back to its days of being the backpack standard and we love the Eleven dress pattern colors on this, so we’ll let the brand get away with it.
Perfectly Normal Saturday Morning Breakfast
This Netflix x Cheerios tie-in (also available in Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch) cost $20 but still sold out.
The news was broken by Variety, which reported that actors Xelia Mendes-Jones and Aaron Moten have also signed on. Mendes-Jones will next be seen in Netflix’s Havoc with Tom Hardy and season two of Amazon’s The Wheel of Time. Moten was recently in Father Stu with Mark Wahlberg as well as Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle.
There’s no word on who any of these actors will be playing on the show, which of course is based on the hugely popular Fallout video game franchise by Bethesda. In that series, the world has been decimated by nuclear war and the player emerges from safety to traverse that wasteland, which is filled with survivors, both dead and alive. Production on the show is scheduled to begin later this year with Westworld cohorts Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy executive producing along with co-showrunners Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Graham Wagner.
This is purely speculative but the easy money would be on MacLachlan being some kind of villain, right? The head of a settlement or group who the show’s leads (likely played by Goggins and Purnell) must clash with. He just has that presence of someone very confident and very powerful—and in a world where bottlecaps are used as currency, someone confident and powerful is probably not heroic.
It’s going to be very interesting to see what Amazon and the teams behind this show do with what’s a seemingly infinite IP though. Video game adaptations, as we all know, don’t have a great track record. But with those franchises now getting full shows, like this and The Last of Us, instead of short movies, maybe the winds are turning.
There’s been a bit of a strange recurrence in Star Wars recently: more often than not, people just don’t die. The Rise of Skywalker, infamously perhaps, is predicated on the return of the Emperor with little explanation as to how he got out of a one-way trip down an exploding reactor shaft. Obi-Wan Kenobi just gave us not one, but two people surviving mortal lightsaber wounds through sheer determination.
So yeah, people are having a bit of a hard time not sticking around in the galaxy far, far away at the minute. But it’s also not exactly a new thing, really: Darth Maul infamously survived becoming Half Maul when he returned in The Clone Wars with some sick robo-spider legs. Anakin, of course, managed to endure the loss of several limbs and being burned alive long enough to be evacuated by Palpatine after fighting Obi-Wan on Mustafar. It’s all kind of silly, and in a certain way, for a series that is so fascinated and burdened by its own past, there’s a dark humor in the commentary that Star Wars just can’t let some things die. Unless they’re random mooks or, sadly, Han Solo, apparently.
But both those characters, and the characters we’ve seen cheat death this way recently—Palpatine in Rise, and both the Grand Inquisitor and Reva in Obi-Wan—all have something in common: they are practitioners of the Dark Side of the Force. The excuse, if any, given for them surviving fatal maimings is the emotion that they draw their power from in the first place: they’re literally just too mad to die, a sheer force of will to endure out of spite and rage that lets them defy impossible odds.
It’s kind of fascinating to see Star Wars lean on this idea more and more, especially because it’s not the only way of cheating death we’re seeing more of lately—the Light Side of this dichotomy is getting in on it too, as we see and hear more from spirits of the Force in these stories as well. This is seen with Liam Neeson’s last-minute manifestation as Qui-Gon Jinn, and the voices of Jedi across generations talking to Rey in Rise’s climax, alongside the spirits of Luke and Leia watching over her. If Star Wars is to be so fascinated with this idea of rendering death somewhat toothless, then it is at least gunning for it at an interesting angle beyond lowered stakes or a necessity to never let things go: death still matters to some people in the galaxy far, far away... from a certain point of view.
Centering this idea around Force users specifically—like we said, we’ve seen people bite the bullet in Star Wars plenty enough lately, they just happen to be regular folks, soldiers and bounty hunters far removed from the spiritual conflict of the Skywalker Saga—creates this fascinating idea of contrast. It’s long been established canon (at least, as far as we continue to be aware, always in motion the Force is, and so on and so forth) that the ability to manifest as a Force Ghost is one open only to practitioners of the Light. It’s why, allegedly, Palpatine spent so much of his life as Emperor desperately seeking out increasingly arcane ways to preserve his soul beyond his original body, after all. But it also suddenly clicks into making sense of why we’re seeing so many Dark Siders beyond him—who lack the resources to just pop off to a far-flung planet and set up a cult of cloners—rail against dying so much that they endure what should be mortal wounds.
But for the Jedi, death is all but a manner of an elevated sense of perspective. Qui-Gon’s journey as a Force ghost in tie-in material as of late has been about his growing mastery of this new form that allows him to transcend traditional perspectives—he can eventually physically interact with the corporeal world, he can see through time itself. Yoda, in The Last Jedi, has also gained some semblance of this idea, broadening his perspective. To the Jedi, death is not the end but the beginning of something new, a persistence beyond one form as you step into, as Obi-Wan told Luke in A New Hope, a larger world. All that it requires is that a Jedi lets go, literally of their physical body but also spiritually of the concept that that body provided all the perspective that they were able to perceive, to gain this vast new level of potential.
If we compare this to the Dark Siders we’ve seen “cheat” death recently then, there’s an intriguing parallel. Without such a similar ability known to them, the Dark Side is embraced by the act of not letting go at all, holding on to every little thing—anger, fear, revenge, the fact that your legs are suddenly not attached to your torso—and such a desire channeling the Force itself to sustain yourself through horrendous injury. Pain as sustenance for the Dark Side is a common idea in Star Wars, in so much that it evokes the passion that grants the Sith and their acoyltes the strength they crave. But reframing it as this idea that, given the alternative is physical and spiritual oblivion, these people are simply just too furious to give up presents a contrast to the Jedi and the Light Side that is far more intriguing than the cyclical tale of good and evil that their conflict is typically framed as. Two different perspectives on the same thing, something Star Wars loves to play with so much.
It’s made further more intriguing by two of the more recent examples of Dark Side users moving against this idea: the death of Darth Maul in Star Wars Rebels, and the survival of Reva in Obi-Wan Kenobi. Both center on these characters confronting that decision of whether or not to let go of their long-held grudges against their masters. For Maul, he still wants to see Palpatine destroyed for abandoning him, even as he masks that desire with his grandiose hatred of Obi-Wan. For Reva, she seeks vengeance against Vader for his massacre at the Jedi Temple in Order 66. Both, at the hands of Obi-Wan Kenobi, are given the chance to let go of that hatred, and we get to see the alternative paths laid out for them: no longer believing he needs to persist, his mission against Palpatine destined to be picked up by another, Maul simply decides that there is no longer a place for him in the world, and fades away. Reva, meanwhile, is given the rare chance of redemption through simply living, instead of the death so many redemption arcs conclude with in Star Wars, by being convinced to let go of the pain and anger she felt over the loss of her fellow Jedi younglings. One chooses to find another way to exist in this current world beyond their hatred, the other simply lets go of it entirely.
In this Force-driven conflict of Light and Dark, Reva’s act in particular is a radical one, a potential defiance of this cyclical idea of spiritual perspective where the Dark is rooted in a physical world, while the Light transcends into a realm beyond it. If Star Wars is to embrace the somewhat absurd idea that some people just can’t stay dead, physically or otherwise, reframing it around these ideas of self is at least much more interesting than awkwardly handwaving fatal lightsaber wounds. After all, Star Wars itself perhaps put it best: no one’s ever really gone. So why not play with that more often?
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