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- 05/17/17--15:53: _Guardians of the Ga...
- 05/23/17--21:46: _The Flash: Who is J...
- 05/24/17--14:55: _Deadpool 2 Trailer,...
- 05/25/17--12:00: _SDCC Exclusive Dead...
- 05/25/17--14:11: _American Gods TV Se...
- 05/25/17--15:03: _Silver & Black: Spi...
- 05/25/17--16:18: _Game of Thrones Sea...
- 05/26/17--12:49: _Mortal Engines: Pet...
- 05/27/17--09:36: _Avengers: Infinity ...
- 05/28/17--13:34: _Wonder Woman Comics...
- 05/28/17--23:04: _American Gods Episo...
- 05/29/17--14:24: _The Genesis of Than...
- 05/19/17--17:56: _Guardians of the Ga...
- 05/30/17--11:15: _Star Wars: Best Exp...
- 05/31/17--09:30: _Shadows of the Empi...
- 05/31/17--12:31: _How Prisoner of Azk...
- 05/31/17--13:27: _Complete DC Comics ...
- 05/31/17--14:52: _Quarry Cancelled by...
- 05/31/17--18:57: _YA Author Rainbow R...
- 05/31/17--21:30: _Bane Conquest #2 Ex...
- 05/23/17--21:46: The Flash: Who is Jay Garrick?
- 05/24/17--14:55: Deadpool 2 Trailer, Villain, Release Date and Everything We Know
- 05/25/17--12:00: SDCC Exclusive Deadpool Wooden Puppet Revealed
- 05/25/17--14:11: American Gods TV Season 1 Episode 5 Promo, Episode Guide, Cast
- 05/25/17--16:18: Game of Thrones Season 7: Did The Trailer Confirm a New Setting?
- 05/26/17--12:49: Mortal Engines: Peter Jackson Reveals Concept Art for Sci-Fi Movie
- 05/27/17--09:36: Avengers: Infinity War - What to Expect
- 05/28/17--13:34: Wonder Woman Comics Reading Guide
- 05/28/17--23:04: American Gods Episode 5 Review: Lemon-Scented You
- 05/29/17--14:24: The Genesis of Thanos and Guardians of the Galaxy
- 05/19/17--17:56: Guardians of the Galaxy 3: 50 Marvel Characters We Want to See
- 05/30/17--11:15: Star Wars: Best Expanded Universe Stories Featuring Bounty Hunters
- 05/31/17--09:30: Shadows of the Empire: The Gritty Star Wars Epic of the '90s
- 05/31/17--12:31: How Prisoner of Azkaban Changed Young Adult Cinema Forever
- 05/31/17--13:27: Complete DC Comics Superhero Movie Release Calendar
- 05/31/17--14:52: Quarry Cancelled by Cinemax
- 05/31/17--18:57: YA Author Rainbow Rowell to Pen Marvel Project
- 05/31/17--21:30: Bane Conquest #2 Exclusive Preview
James Gunn talks about why Nathan Fillion isn't in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and what his cut scene would've been.
Nathan Fillion and James Gunn have had a long history. He was the star in the first film Gunn ever directed, the deliciously grotesque Slither. He also has appeared in every film since then, including as the voice of a digital prison punk in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Yet he is nowhere to be seen in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the box office-crushing Marvel Studios extravaganza.
Now James Gunn has taken to Facebook to come clean on why Fillion, a space opera icon in his own right after Firefly, was not boarded in the final version of Vol. 2. Once again, Gunn confirms that Fillion actually was going to play a relatively important bush league superhero from the Marvel comics universe, Simon Williams/Wonder Man. And while the actual scene that would have constituted a bevy of posters of Simon Williams films got cut, the director still considers it canon—and keeps the flame of hope alive we may see Wonder Man yet in a major role within the MCU.
As many of you know one of my best friends in the world is Nathan Fillion. Along with Michael Rooker and Gregg Henry he's been in every movie I've directed - even as a monstrous, perverted voice in Guardians of the Galaxy. I didn't have a good cameo for him in Vol. 2 - and I wanted to bring him more fully into the MCU at some point, so I didn't want to make him Aakon Guard #2, narrowing his chance of a more substantial role in the future. I really do love the character of Simon Williams/Wonder Man in the comics - a sometimes douchey actor/superhero - and could see Nathan clearly in that role (not because he's a douchebag but because he's great at playing one). But, of course, in a movie set 99.9% in space I didn't really have a place for him. So in a small flash to earth I decided to put a theater playing a "Simon Williams Film Festival," with six Simon Williams movie posters outside. Obviously, from the posters, he's had a run of B movies. Most of them in themselves are Easter eggs of some sort or another. Unfortunately, the small section of the scene where they appeared slowed down the movie and I had to cut the Easter eggs from the film (along with storefronts named after comic book luminaries Starlin, Mantlos, Annett and others). Equally a bummer was that a lot of people took photos of these posters on the day so suddenly every fan site was reporting that Nathan was playing Wonder Man in he movie. He was even the third-billed actor on IMDB!
So that's the full story. Nathan's only cameo in the movie ever were these posters. I'll post them all over the next few days.
And, yes, I think we can consider them canon for the MCU, and I hold onto hope that Simon Williams will rise again!!
In that vein, here is one of those posters, which is clearly a parody of Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs, which starred Michael Fassbender as the late Apple genius. In the MCU, it would appear that Tony Stark would get the same treatment.
DC's original speedster is one of the most important superheroes in comic book history. Here's a flash course in Jay Garrick.
This article contains spoilers for The Flash season 2.
Jay Garrick's arrival on The Flash was a foregone conclusion since the very first episode of season one. The minute that newspaper headline from the future was revealed, letting fans know that there's a "Crisis on Infinite Earths" of some kind in the not-too-distant future of this show, then it was only natural that we'd meet the first, most important of those infinite worlds, Earth-2.
And there's no more iconic symbol of Earth-2 than Jay Garrick, the original Flash.
Flash Comics #1 first hit newsstands in late 1939 (don't be fooled by the 1940 date on the cover), and it's handily one of the most important single issues ever published by DC Comics (long before the company went by that name). Superman had arrived in early 1938 in Action Comics #1, bringing forth a slew of caped imitators, not the least of whom being Batman, who made his pointy-eared bow in Detective Comics #27 in mid 1939. The superhero arms race was on, and most of 'em had capes.
But Flash Comics #1 put someone a little different on the cover. Here we had a mercury helmeted speedster in a capeless, but no less snazzy costume, catching a bullet in mid-flight. Boasting just as much primary color appeal as Superman, Jay Garrick took one of those most elemental superpowers, the ability to run really frakkin' fast, and melded it with the still nascent superhero genre.
But Jay's origin story was also one of the more well-rounded ones of the era. In the space of 15 pages, Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert introduced us to Jay Garrick, college football benchwarmer and mediocre science student, his girlfriend (and future wife) Joan, Joan's scientist dad, and a crew of evildoers with the modest name of the Faultless Four. Jay gets his super speed not by anything remotely as sexy as a lightning bolt or particle accelerator, but from the fumes of "hard water" which he accidentally inhales after knocking over vial while relaxing with a cigarette.
Special note that has nothing to do with anything else! I don't think any Golden Age superhero comic features as much cigarette smoking as early Flash stories. Holy moley, all these people do is light up. Anyway...back to the important stuff.
Jay recovers from a coma, discovers his speed, puts on a costume, and rescues Joan's pop in remarkably economic fashion, all in a story slightly better drawn than many of the other Superman and/or Flash Gordon knockoffs. In fact, aside from the "Flash" name, like most superhero costumes, Jay's owes quite a bit to Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon (for that matter, so does virtually every other superhero of the era, but that's a story for another time), who routinely wore striking outfits like a red shirt, and blue pants, emblazoned with yellow lightning bolts. But it's Jay's winged helmet and boots, tributes to the Greek god Hermes, known for his swiftness, that set him apart from his peers.
Special note #2. You know who else first appeared in Flash Comics #1? Hawkman and Hawkgirl, two characters that we also spent a lot of time with on the first seasn of Legends of Tomorrow
Jay proved popular enough to start making appearances in All-Star Comics, where he was a founding member and chairman of the first superhero team, the Justice Society of America, who he would be associated with for the rest of his career. He was one of the few superheroes (alongside Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Captain America) to break free of the anthology format prevalent at the time, and was granted his own title, appropriately known as All-Flash.
But interest in superhero comics dropped dramatically in the years following World War II, and by 1951, Jay and most of the rest of the Justice Society had faded away, presumably never to be heard from again.
Jay next appeared in none other than Showcase#4 in 1956, in the same story that introduced Barry Allen to the world. But here, we only see him on the cover of a comic book that Barry's reading, and it's Barry's love of this superhero from a bygone era that ultimately inspires him to put on a costume and adopt the Flash name. But make no mistake, in Barry's world, Jay Garrick was just a fictional character.
Well, at least he was...until The Flash #123 in 1961. "Flash of Two Worlds" revealed that Jay Garrick was actually a Flash from another dimension (affectionately known as Earth-2, despite the fact that it came first), and when Flashcomic book writer Gardner Fox didn't write his adventures, he was unkowingly channeling "real" events from Jay's dimension. It was a wild concept, and one that stuck. Jay and Barry team-ups became yearly occurrences in The Flash, and soon the tradition spread to the Justice Society and the Justice League, in stories that often had titles like "Crisis on Earth-3."
This ultimately led to a proliferation of alternate worlds, and DC had to do a massive housecleaning, known as Crisis on Infinite Earths, which (among countless other things) merged the histories of Earth-1 and Earth-2, meaning that Jay operated as the Flash of decades past, before Barry picked up the legacy, and so on down the line. There's way too much about Flash's connection to Crisis(and its potential impact on the future of DC movies and TV) to get into here, but I wrote a whole article about it a while back. See for yourself.
During this period, the JSA re-formed, and thanks to some funny business involving how the Golden Age heroes had aged (don't ask), Jay was able to serve as a mentor to other young speedsters in the DC Universe. During most of his time on "our" Earth in DC's present, Jay helped Wally West out during his extended run as the "main" Flash, and served as the backbone of a new JSA that also consisted of newer "legacy" heroes in the DC Universe.
There was a version of Jay introduced during DC's New 52 period, who rocked a snazzy new costume but was pretty different from his original interpretation. The classic Mercury-helmeted version has so far been absent from DC's current line of rebirth comics. He's bound to be reintroduced, though, along with the rest of the Justice Society, it's just a matter of time.
After a season 2 fake-out which saw Teddy Sears introduced as the Jay Garrick of Earth-2 only to be revealed as the villain of the season, Zoom, we met the real Jay, the Flash of Earth-3, played by none other than original TV Flash, John Wesley Shipp. This version of the character has taken on the traditional role as Barry's occasional mentor, and he's as fully heroic as his comic book counterpart. Seeing John Wesley shipp in a smartly updated costume and that iconic helmet actually brought some happy tears to my eyes.
I may update this article with some additional context about Jay Garrick and his world as we get more info on the TV version throughout The Flash season 3 and beyond! Until then, you can try and keep up with me on Twitter!
A version of this article first appeared in October of 2015. It has been updated with new information.
Deadpool 2 will see Ryan Reynolds breaking his enemies and the fourth wall when the film arrives on June 1st, 2018.
Deadpool 2 has the lofty task of following up the film industry's biggest surprise story of 2016 in Deadpool, which turned a meager (for a blockbuster) $58 million budget into a $783 million global phenomenon. With the project-facilitating star Ryan Reynolds set to reprise his role as the Marvel Comics Merc with a Mouth, he will be joined by a classic comic book rival in Cable, played by Josh Brolin, who makes a detour from his Marvel Studios gig as Thanos in 2018's Avengers: Infinity War to play an equally-iconic antagonist to our antihero.
With that estalblished, here is everything we know about Deadpool 2!
Deadpool 2 Latest News
Jack Kesy has been cast as a "major villain" for Deadpool 2, says Deadline. While the identity of said villain has not been confirmed, the trade strongly believes that the role will be as classic X-Men antagonist Black Tom Cassidy.
Presumed film villain Black Tom Cassidy, introduced in the Marvel Comics lore in X-Men #99 (June 1976), is a powerful mutant who possesses the ability to manipulate energy, typically channeling thermokinetic blasts through his signature weapon, a wooden Irish shillelagh. Black Tom also happens to be the cousin of sometime X-Man Sean Cassidy, a.k.a. Banshee, with whom he ignited a familial rivalry over the late Maeve Rourke (with whom Banshee conceived X-Force member Siryn). However, the scheming reprobate is probably best known as the brains in an iconic evil partnership with the magically-imbued villain Juggernaut, who also fields a familial squabble with the X-Men as the step-brother of Professor Charles Xavier.
Black Tom (and possibly Juggernaut,) is not a name immediately associated with Deadpool. However, there is a brief comic book connection between the two from the crimson-clad antihero's early appearances in the issues of Rob Liefeld’s X-Force back in 1991 in which Deadpool brought the Tom/Juggernaut duo into the services of his mysterious client “Mr. Tolliver,” a figure central to Deadpool’s early comic book arc, who turns out to be Tyler Dayspring, a memory-projecting mutant time traveler and servant of a future-ruling Apocalypse from around the 36th century. Thus, Jack Kesy’s villain role – purportedly as Black Tom – could complement a version of that earliest of Deadpool comic book angles.
Jack Kesy is probably best known for his role on the FX series The Strain, seen in atypical form as a quasi-Marilyn-Manson goth rocker named Gabriel Bolivar, who, infected from the mythos’ vampiric parasites, eventually becomes the bodily vessel to the evil Master himself. With his run on The Strain now done, Kesy parlays that momentum with appearances in the Dwayne Johnson-starring Baywatch reboot movie, crime drama Blood Brother, the Bruce Willis-starring remake of vigilante drama Death Wish, the 2018 Chris Hemsworth-starring contemporary war drama Horse Soldiers and – perhaps poetically – indie crime drama Juggernaut.
Deadpool 2 Release Date
Production on Deadpool 2 kicks off in June in Vancouver, which gives it plenty of time to make its June 1, 2018 release date.
Josh Brolin (yes, the guy who is playing Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe which has nothing to do with Fox's X-Men universe) is playing Cable in Deadpool 2, and apparently, according to The Hollywood Reporter he has been contracted for four movies in the role. Obviously one of those is Deadpool 2, and the other is Joe Carnahan's X-Force movie.
Cable, in case you don't know by now, is the badass from the future and founder of X-Force/frequent partner of Deadpool. He is as stoic and grim as Deadpool is zany and obnoxious. Watching Brolin and Ryan Reynolds play off of each other should be a treat.
By the way, Ryan Reynolds doesn't care one bit about crossing the franchise streams, and you shouldn't, either.
The fuck, Fox! You can't play 2 characters in the same universe!! Josh Brolin was in Sicario and I was in Sabrina The Teenage Witch. pic.twitter.com/AQCRp1aWKg
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) April 12, 2017
For Brolin, the process of becoming the grizzled, cybernetically-enhanced mystery mutant Nathan Summers has already begun with the actor posting a set of photos on Instagram of him enduring the psychologically-traumatizing process of casting a head mold; a special effects process that will eventually give him Cable's signature scars. Moreover, Brolin also seemed to be getting himself into character with some antagonistic hashtags aimed at star Ryan Reynolds, since the sequel will likely showcase the classic comic book rivalry between Deadpool and Cable before they become reluctant cohorts.
Oh, you thought the other one was gnarly. Ha! #discipline #billcorso #nomoreeffincookies #citoratsuperhero #breathingisforpussies @bcorso A post shared by Josh Brolin (@joshbrolin) on
Brolin won the part after a heated casting search that included top names like Brad Pitt, Michael Shannon, and Stranger Things' David Harbour and rumored names like Pierce Brosnan and Russell Crowe. Pitt was interested in the role, but director David Leitch explained why that isn't happening. "We had a great meeting with Brad, he was incredibly interested in the property," Leitch told ComicBook.com recently. "Things didn't work out schedule-wise. He's a fan, and we love him, and I think he would've made an amazing Cable."
The brooding Cable first appeared in New Mutants #87, and like Deadpool, he's got comic book writer/artist Rob Liefeld in his DNA. His origin story is too complex to get into here, but needless to say, he's from the future, he has a liking for enormous guns, and he's the perfect foil for Deadpool's hyper antics. The idea of watching Michael Shannon play off of Ryan Reynolds in this movie is pretty delicious, so hopefully everything works out.
John Wick's David Leitch is directing Deadpool 2. While the Deadpool 2 script is still officially in the hands of original film scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, it was revealed to Collider that screenwriter extraordinaire Drew Goddard has been brought onboard to work on the film’s script as a consultant.
Deadpool 2 Trailer
Logan didn't have a post-credits scene. Instead, it has kind of a pre-credits scene, which is basically a wacky teaser for Deadpool 2. It's not quite a trailer, but it's 100% legit, stars Ryan Reynolds, and was directed by David Leitch. This won't appear in the movie, but there's definitely a touch of what you'll see in it here in terms of tone.
And by "tone" we mean "exactly what you expect/want out of a Deadpool movie." There's some nice symmetry to letting Ryan Reynolds drop this one before 20th Century Fox, since he's apparently the person responsible for the test footage leak that finally got this movie the greenlight in the first place a few years back. He continues to "deny" that.
Watch it here. It's pretty great. ALSO it has come to our attention that mobile users are having trouble seeing the video, so you can click here to watch it if it isn't coming up. Sorry about that.
A couple of things worth noting here:
1. You can see the word "Hope" scrawled on that phone booth. This could be a joke, considering the Superman: The Movie theme is playing, that Superman's "S" is "a symbol of hope."
However, it probably refers to Hope Summers, who is Cable's adopted daughter and holy moley does this get too confusing to get into right here.
2. You can also see "Nathan Summers coming soon!" written on there. In other words, that's Cable, and it's no secret whatsoever that Cable is in this movie.
If you're heading to San Diego Comic Con on July 20-23, this Deadpool wooden push puppet might be up your alley.
San Diego Comic Con is just two months away and like every year, there are always those special pieces of merch that are con-exclusive. If you want it, you better be there or have a friend who will be there who owes you a favor. Heck, that’s how I have my prized Shockmaster action figure.
This time around, Entertainment Earth has their own exclusive product in the form of their Deadpool Wooden Push Puppet.
Just look at this little guy.
Barely visible in the photo, there are some quotes from the Merc With A Mouth inscribed on the base!
§ "Yeah? Well you have a big head. No backsies.”
§ "I can say Chimichanga in seven languages!”
§ “If you don't let me go, I'm gonna lick your hand.”
§ “I've been besmirched! This besmirchment will not stand!"
At five-inches tall, this floppy throwback puppet will be in limited release. There are only 492 of them in the production run, each numbered with a holographic sticker. You can pick them up at Entertainment Earth’s booth, #2343.
If you’re a Deadpool fan and can't make it to SDCC, Entertainment Earth has plenty of other products for you to look at, too!
Gavin Jasper kind of wants that chair cape now. Follow Gavin on Twitter!
What's next in the American Gods TV show? Check out this promo for the rest of the season...
TheAmerican Gods TV adaptation is here! Read our spoiler-free review of the season's first four episodes. Or, if you've stayed up to date, read all of our reviews below in our episode guide.
What's up next? American Gods' Episode 5: "Lemon-Scented You." Here's the promo...
And here's the brief synopsis:
Shadow's emotional reunion with his dead and unfaithful wife is interrupted when he and Mr. Wednesday are kidnapped by the New Gods.
We've also got a first real look at Mr. World, played by Crispin Glover, who will be introducing himself in Saturday's all-new episode. Check it out...
Saturday's episode will also properly introduce Gillian Anderson's Media (who we've previously seen pop up as I Love Lucy and watching over Wednesday's bank heist). And if she isn't already your favorite New God, then I don't know what show you're watching.
As Starz describes: "Gillian Anderson stars as the New God Media in the critically acclaimed series American Gods. Media assumes whatever form will deliver her message most effectively and is often personified by iconic celebrities."
Check out her latest look in the photo featured above as well as in action in the following video clip from "Lemon-Scented You," which sees Media passing on a message from Mr. World to Tech Boy...
We've also got a look at the "Coming to America" vignette for "Lemon-Scented You" and, like the ones that have come before it, the introduction is gorgeous. Unlike the other "Coming to America" vignettes," the story of Nunyunnini, the Mammoth god of ancient humans coming to America, it is animated. Try to look away from this visually-stunning story...
American Gods Interviews
American Gods TV Episode Guide
When Shadow Moon is released from prison a few days early, following the death of his wife, he meets the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday and is conscripted into his employ as bodyguard. Attacked his first day on the job, Shadow quickly discovers that this role may be more than he bargained for.
Original airdate: 4/30/17
As Mr. Wednesday begins recruitment for the coming battle, Shadow Moon travels with him to Chicago, and agrees to a very high stakes game of checkers with the old Slavic god, Czernobog.
Original airdate: 5/7/17
Original airdate: 5/14/17
Original airdate: 5/21/17
American Gods Season 1, Episode 5: Lemon Scented You
Shadow's emotional reunion with his dead and unfaithful wife is interrupted when he and Mr. Wednesday are kidnapped by the New Gods.
Original airdate: 5/28/17
American Gods Season 1, Episode 6: A Murder of Gods
Trying to work things out with his dead and unfaithful wife, Shadow’s emotional reunion is interrupted when he and Mr. Wednesday are kidnapped by the New Gods.
Original airdate: 6/4/17
American Gods Season 1, Episode 7: A Prayer for Mad Sweeney
Original airdate: 6/11/17
American Gods Season 1, Episode 8: Come to Jesus
Original airdate: 6/18/17
American Gods Trailer
The latest trailer, which features scenes of Ian McShane hanging out in kitchens, which is what we've come to expect from co-showrunner Michael Green. Check it out...
Starz also uploaded its SXSW American Gods panel onto its YouTube page. It's filled with insight into the first season of the Gaiman adaptation...
Check out the first trailer below...
Starz has also been releasing character introduction videos and they give us a great idea of, tonally, what this show is going to be like. Take Laura Moon's introduction, for example, in which Shadow's wife muses irreverently on the subject of her own death...
And here's a more riotous one about Mad Sweeney...
Here's one for Old God Easter...
And one for Old God Czernobog...
And one for Old God Bilquis...
And here's protagonist Shadow Moon...
And, finally, here's the charismatic Mr. Wednesday...
American Gods TV Show Main Titles
Starz also dropped the official American Gods main titles, and they're dark, bloody, and filled with imaginative visuals. Just like we hoped a TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's bestselling novel would be — and, let's face it, what we've come to expect from co-showrunner Bryan Fuller.
Feast your eyes on this gnarly glory below!
American Gods Cast
Shadow and Laura Moon
American Gods has made some excellent casting decisions since first Fuller first told us how much diversity was important in casting this show back in May. British actor Ricky Whittle, best known for his role as Lincoln on The 100, will be playing the lead role of Shadow Moon.
Australian actress Emily Browning, best known for her roles in A Series of Unfortunate Events and Sucker Punch, will be playing his wife Laura Moon.
— American Gods Amazon (@AmericanGodsTV) December 17, 2016
Jonathan Tucker (Parenthood) has been cast as Low Key Lyesmith, Shadow's prison cellmate with a fast-talking personality and a past that is much more interesting than meets the eye. (For a clue, try saying his name outloud.)
Comedian Dane Cook has moved away from the spotlight after a brief run as a buzzworthy name in comedy, but it appears he'll be resurfacing on Starz. Cook may get to be the comic relief in the upcoming American Gods series. Deadline reports the comedian and actor has signed on to play Shadow Moon's best friend Robbie. Here's his character description:
Cook’s Robbie promises to hold Shadow’s (Ricky Whittle) job for him while he’s in prison. Robbie is married to Audrey, best friend to Shadow’s wife Laura (Emily Browning), and he provides another shoulder for Laura to cry on while Shadow is away.
Deadwood's Ian McShane (who worked with Green on too-soon-cancelled political drama Kings) will be playing Mr. Wednesday, "a crafty and endlessly charismatic con man, full of perverse wisdom, curious magic, and grand plans. He hires ex-con Shadow Moon to be his bodyguard as he journeys across America, using his charms to recruit others like him as he prepares for the ultimate battle for power."
Rounding out the old gods crew is: Cloris Leachman (Malcolm in the Middle) as Zorya Vechernyaya, Peter Stormare (Prison Break) as Czernobog, Chris Obi (Snow White and the Huntsman) as Anubis, Pablo Schreiber (Orange Is the New Black) as Mad Sweeney, Mousa Kraish (Superbad) as The Jinn, Yetide Badaki (Masters of Sex) as Bilquis, and Jeremy Davies as Jesus.
In yet another brilliant piece of casting, Orlando Jones will appear as Mr. Nancy, "the old African trickster god more commonly known as Anansi, and one of Mr. Wednesday’s (Ian McShane) oldest confidantes. Like Wednesday, Nancy is ready to bring this new America (and its new gods) to its knees, desperate to light a fire and watch the whole world burn."
Omid Abtahi (Argo) will play the recurring role of Salim, a “sweet, sad, and put-upon foreigner who is one half of a pair of star-crossed lovers,” in season 1. The role comes with an option to become a regular in season 2. The Iranian-born actor played the character Salim in Showtime's Sleeper Cell and Homes in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.
Kristin Chenoweth has joined the cast of American Gods as Easter. "I'm so excited to be reunited with my Bryan Fuller," said Chenoweth during the American Gods panel at SDCC 2016.
Demore Barnes has also joined up as Mr. Ibis, "the keeper of stories, past and present, and he recounts them with great relish. His old fashioned sensibilities do not preclude a wry wit."
American Gods has also added Psych star Corbin Bernsen to the cast as an Old God named Vulcan, a new character created for the TV show. Here's a character description, courtesy of Deadline...
Vulcan is one of Mr. Wednesday’s (Ian McShane) oldest allies. He’s created a comfortable life for himself by harnessing his powers for the modern world, which makes him resistant to Wednesday’s plans.
Entertainment Weekly released a sneak peek look at Vulcan, a new god created for the TV adaptation. Though Vulcan was not featured in Neil Gaiman's book, Gaiman had intended to write an episode for the first season of the show (though scheduling made it impossible) and Vulcan was a part of the brainstorming for that episode.
Speaking about the new character, Bryan Fuller tells EW:
Vulcan's the god of the volcano and the forge, and what is the modern-day extrapolation of what that god could do? We started talking about America’s obsession with guns and gun control and, really, if you're holding a gun in your hand, it's a mini volcano, and perhaps, through this character, there's a conversation to be had.
Michael Green elaborated more on how the Vulcan character came to be, saying:
He's a brand-new addition who came from an experience Neil had. He was going through a small town in Alabama where he saw a statue of Vulcan. It was a steel town and, as he told the story, there was a factory that had a series of accidents where people were killed on the job and they kept happening because an actuarial had done the numbers and realized that it was cheaper to pay out the damages to the families of people who lost people, rather than to shut down the factory long enough to repair, and that occurred to him as modern a definition of sacrifice as there might be ...
What’s interesting about a god like Vulcan who has bound himself to guns is it’s an evolution of what he was to what he could be, and that’s finding a new place in a world that didn’t have a place for old gods. That comes with a series of compromises but also a series of benefits for him. To say that maybe you can find a new place in this country, that it doesn’t always have to be so hard, makes him an interesting person as someone with a long history with Mr. Wednesday.
Bryan Fuller sat down with Amazon to talk about the show, specifically the character of Bilquis and "the strangest audition" Fuller has ever participated in...
— American Gods Amazon (@AmericanGodsTV) December 20, 2016
Crispin Glover has been cast in the all-important role of Mr. World, the "seemingly omniscient leader at the center of the New Gods coalition." Mr. World must keep an eye not only on his enemies, but his own "allies." As the official description reads, "he realizes that their ringleader, Mr. Wednesday, poses an imminent threat."
Bruce Langley (Deadly Waters) will play Technical Boy.
Gillian Anderson has been cast in the role of Media, the public face of the new gods, in the TV adaptation of American Gods. Media takes the form of several iconic celebrities to serve as the publice face and sales representatives for the new gods, living off of the attention people give to their various digital screens. She is clever, quick on her feet, and able to spin almost any situation.
Anderson has previously worked with Bryan Fuller on Hannibal, so this casting is such a surprise, but it is infinitely awesome.
American Gods Summary
For those unfamiliar with American Gods, here's the official synopsis Starz released for the TV series:
The plot posits a war brewing between old and new gods: the traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots from around the world steadily losing believers to an upstart pantheon of gods reflecting society’s modern love of money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. Its protagonist, Shadow Moon, is an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, a conman but in reality one of the older gods, on a cross-country mission to gather his forces in preparation to battle the new deities.
Neil Gaiman recently talked to the Wall Street Journal about the new show, elaborating that American Gods will be eight episodes and will only make it a third of the way through the books. Gaiman talked about the freedom the TV show has in branching out from Shadow's perspective. Episode four, for example, will give us Laura's perspective, starting all from before Shadow and Laura met.
Speaking more generally about how the show has turned out, Gaiman said: "Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, the showrunners, have done a remarkable job and watching Ian McShane bring Mr. Wednesday, who is Odin, to life is an absolute joy."
To listen to the interview, check out the video below...
In an interview with Crave Online, Bryan Fuller talked about plans for American Gods to be a kind of "Marvel Universe, not with superheroes but with gods... As detailed and integrated as the Marvel Universe is, and doing that with deities is something that excited all of us."
In other words, this won't just be a straight adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel, and is instead being looked at very much as long form television, which may lead to more down the road. "In success we may have spin-offs of American Gods that follow lesser gods in greater detail than you might in the main series," Mr. Fuller added.
American Gods TV Show Images
Neil Gaiman gave fans a glimpse of the concept art. This would be the bone orchard that Shadow dreams of in the book. It looks suitably moody...
Here's the American Gods poster that dropped last summer at SDCC 2016...
Starz also released this image of Bilquis, played by Yetide Badaki (Aquarius). Bilquis, also known as the Queen of Sheba, "is an ancient goddess of love who craves the worship she inspired in eras long gone, and is eager to find that same relevance in today’s world." Showrunner Bryan Fuller chatted with Den of Geek about the role, saying:
One of the exciting things for us in adapting this is that we get to expand characters, so Bilquis, who is only in a chapter of the book, then you don’t see her again, is a major player in this world.
Though Bilquis only appears in two chapters in the American Gods book, her character makes quite an impression. We can only imagine what that role might look like in an expanded form...
All hail Gillian Anderson, aka American Gods' Media. The actress, who will be guest starring in the series as the mouthpiece of the New Gods, just shared an image of herself in the juicy role. Check the Marilyn Monroe-esque loveliness out below, then scroll down to our character section to learn more about Anderson's role in the upcoming series...
— Gillian Anderson (@GillianA) June 30, 2016
Entertainment Weekly unveiled the first official images from the series, featuring Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon and Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday...
In other recent news, we've got a first look at American Gods' Mr. Nancy/Anansi, played by Orlando Jones...
Will There Be an Anansi Boys TV Show?
Jones did a great interview with Vanity Fair in which the photo is featured. Topics discussed include Jones' own fannishness around American Gods and Bryan Fuller, as well as the possibility of a Anansi Boys spin-off series. What are the chances we might get a Anansi Boys TV show? Jones said:
All I know for sure is that when Michael and Bryan had called me and asked me about playing the character and walked me through what they were thinking, part of the discussion at that time was Anansi Boys, and that they wanted to spin it off and pursue that character. As you know, the first season is really about setting up the world of American Gods and introducing you to all the wonderful characters. If there is a spin-off of any kind, I’d love to do it. I love this character. I love these writers. I’ve been fortunate that this is one of the most exciting and incredible experiences I’ve been able to do as an actor, and I’ll continue for as long as I possibly can.
So, it's a definite possibility, but it also definitely too early to tell. American Gods hasn't even premiered yet.
More news as we hear it.
Black Cat/Silver Sable Spider-Man spinoff movie Silver & Black will be directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood.
As with the surprising revelation that a Venom spinoff was back on at Sony Pictures, the studio is still making the best of their Spider-Man license, as it was also revealed that a Black Cat and Silver Sable movie – titled Silver & Black– spun-off from the web-head franchise was being turned into a priority by the studio. With Thor movie series writer Christopher Yost onboard to script this onscreen team-up Spider-Man femme-fatales, news comes of the acquisition of director Gina Prince-Bythewood, who also recently booked some Marvel Cinematic Universe experience of her own, having written for the upcoming Cloak & Dagger television series.
Silver & Black Latest News
Gina Prince-Bythewood steps into the director’s chair for Silver & Black, as reported by Deadlineand THR. She will work off a script by Christopher Yost. Prince-Bythewood has been behind the camera for dramatic films such as 2014’s Beyond the Lights, 2008’s The Secret Life of Bees and 2000’s Love & Basketball, along with television work on series such as the current Fox crime drama Shots Fired along with sitcoms Girlfriends and The Bernie Mac Show. Relevant to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (extended and otherwise), Prince-Bythewood has written the pilot for Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger television series, which is set to debut sometime in 2018.
Silver & Black Release Date
Silver & Black has yet to land a release date. However, the first Spidey-spinoff offering in the Tom Hardy-starring Venom arrives on October 5, 2018 in what is already a packed year of Marvel movies with Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp. Thus, a date sometime in 2019 seems plausible.
Silver & Black Details
Previously, it was unclear how far Sony came in pursuing a Black Cat movie, but now the answer indicates… pretty darn close. However, the news arrived that Sony tapped Christopher Yost, a writer who worked on the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok, Logan, Max Steel and Thor: The Dark World, to rewrite a previous existing script that would star two of the pearlier haired ladies in the Spider-Man mythos. Further, the script he is reworking is one turned in by Lisa Joy, who recently co-created a little genre show you might have heard about: Westworld.
Indeed, this project has apparently been long in the works, predating the deal that ended The Amazing Spider-Man franchise and led to Tom Holland getting to wear the tights in this summer’s forthcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming. Apparently the title previously known simply as “secret female spinoff project,” the movie is intended to flesh out the Black Cat and Silver Sable characters from the Spidey pantheon. Originally Felicity Jones played Black Cat’s alter-ego, Felicia Hardy, in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, however it’d be likely recast here.
The film is being produced by frequent Spider-Man stalwarts Amy Pascal and Matt Tolmach, although intriguingly Avi Arad is not listed as attached. Further, it is ambiguous whether it is related at all to Spider-Man: Homecoming and the greater MCU. According to THR, the project is not an “offshoot” of Spider-Man: Homecoming, but based on the larger “Spider-Man universe” that Sony has the rights to. However, just because it isn’t directly linked to Homecoming does not necessarily mean it is not in the same “Spider-Man universe.”
Yost is an interesting choice to pen the film as well, as in addition to working on the screenplays for Marvel Studios’ Thor: The Dark World and The Incredible Hulk, he has had a history with Marvel’s mythos when he acted as showrunner for X-Men: Evolution wherein he created the character of X-23/Laura Kinney… the breakout star of this month’s Logan, as played by Dafne Keen.
Silver & Black Story
Black Cat is of course the famed superheroine anti-hero created by Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard in The Amazing Spider-Man #194 (1979). She is the daughter of a famous (and famously incarcerated) cat burglar whom she inherits a knack for acrobatics and flexible morals. She breaks him out of prison while he’s on his deathbed, and also reveals herself to be something of a Spider-Man fangirl, seducing the wallcrawler when he tries to take her old man back to prison.
Possibly influenced by the Catwoman character at DC—although Marvel continues to strongly deny this—Felicia Hardy developed a unique role in Spidey mythos by becoming Spider-Man’s partner, sidekick, lover, and confidant, knowing his identity and still working with him as his closest costumed associate after he married Mary Jane Watson (awkward).
Silver Sable is also known for her somewhat amorous lifestyle as a mercenary and bounty hunter. She was created in 1985’s The Amazing Spider-Man #265 by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz. Sometimes an ally to Spider-Man and other times an adversary due to her violent, merciless tactics, Silver Sable distinguishes herself in comic book stories filled with soldiers of fortune due to the fact that she is the CEO of the successful Silver Sable International corporation, a “security” firm that is the financial backbone of Marvel’s fictional country, Symkaria.
We're taking a closer look at those scenes of Casterly Rock from the Game of Thrones Season 7 trailer...
There was a lot to unpack in the Game of Thrones Season 7 trailer, but perhaps the most exciting and unexpected sneak peek came in the form of what seems to be a glimpse of Casterly Rock, aka the home of the Lannisters.
As we can clearly see in several shots from the trailer, Dany's forces are attacking a sunny stronghold awash with the Lannister sigil. Many (including Den of Geek) have speculated that the locale is, indeed, Casterly Rock.
This is major news because we have yet to see Casterly Rock in the show, aside from a Season 5 flashback that shows a young Cersei getting a terrible prophecy from a fortuneteller who lives near her home. Casterly Rock hasn't gotten a lot of play in the A Song of Ice and Fire books as of yet, either.
Casterly Rock, nicknamed the Rock (not to be confused with Dwayne Johnson), sits on the western shore of Westeros and once belonged to the Casterlys (hence the name) before the Lannisters tricked them out of it a long time ago. Classic Lannister.
The Rock is said to be three times the height of The Wall and is in the shape of a lion in repose. It overlooks the harbor of Lannisport and Sunset Bay, which might explain why some of the battle scenes in the trailer show a nighttime sea battle as well as a daytime land battle. Are Dany's forces attacking Casterly Rock from two sides or are these two separate battles? We'll have to wait and see.
Deep within the Rock are cages where lions were once kept. Perhaps they might find another use if the Lannister force is able to capture one of Dany's dragons? Whatever we do or do not get to see of Casterly Rock, we're just excited that the locale may be getting a focus in Season 7 — another check in the "pro" column for the TV show passing the narrative point of the books.
Mortal Engines, a film written by Peter Jackson, now has some imaginative concept art to showcase.
The 2018 film adaptation of Philip Reeve’s popular teen-aimed apocalyptic novel series Mortal Engines appears to be running on all cylinders. With the legendary visionary of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies Peter Jackson working on the script with his repertory team of (his wife) Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, we know the screenplay is being tackled by a trio who understand what it takes to adapt epic fantasies.
Here's everything we know so far!
Mortal Engines Latest News
Peter Jackson is stoking the Mortal Engines fire by taking to Facebook to post a piece of concept art from the upcoming film. The art, presumably depicting protagonist Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), noticeably carries a Dark Tower vibe in its aesthetic approach as the figure in question gazes upon a post-apocalyptic metropolis in the background that also evokes memories of Minas Tirith from Jackson's The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Mortal Engines Cast
Hera Hilmar headlines Mortal Engines as protagonist Hester Shaw. The actress was notably seen on Starz’s 3-season run of Da Vinci’s Demons, Discovery miniseries Harley and the Davidsons and in films such as The Fifth Estate, Anna Karenina and the March release of The Ottoman Lieutenant, opposite Game of Thrones actor Michiel Huisman (who also starred in the Harley miniseries), which also features Ben Kingsely and Josh Hartnett.
Robert Sheehan is her co-star, playing Tom Natsworthy. Sheehan has been seen on the just-released second season of Amazon drama Fortitude opposite Dennis Quaid. He’s also appeared in notable projects such as the mystery thriller The Messenger, comedy Moonwalkers opposite Rupert Grint and Ron Perlman and this film’s name-similar Freeform show-spawning box-office bomb counterpart The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
Hugo Weaving will play a character named Thaddeus Valentine. Weaving joining the project yields a reunion that should delight fans of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth Sextet, in which he played the mission-making ancient elven Lord of Rivendale Elrond in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and its prequels The Hobbit Trilogy.
Weaving has also fielded a variety of iconic signature roles in his career outside of Middle Earth, first establishing himself as a household name with his villainous performance as Agent Smith in The Matrix Trilogy, the crimson-faced A-list villain Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger, the masked anarchist vigilante in 2005’s V for Vendetta and was the voice of Decepticon big bad Megatron in director Michael Bay’s Transformers films, amongst an array of other great roles.
And the Rest...
Mortal Engines' supporting cast consists of names like Stephen Lang (Avatar and its upcoming sequels) as Chryslar Peavy, Ronan Raftery (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as Bevis Pod, Jihae (Mars) as Anna Fang, Aaron Jackson (Pete’s Dragon) as Gench, Kee Chan (Red Dog: True Blue) as Governor Kwan and Leila George (Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?) as Katherine Valentine.
Mortal Engines Story
Beginning with Reeve’s 2001 original novel, continuing with three subsequent sequels, Mortal Engines is set thousands of years in the future in the aftermath of a global catastrophe that left the world decimated on a geological level. To escape the constant threat of earthquakes and volcanoes, which apparently left North America uninhabitable, the city of London was transferred onto a massive wheeled vehicle called a Traction City and resort to roving the world, raiding the waning resources of other cities in a dynamic called “Municipal Darwinism.”
Amidst this bleak backdrop, the story of Mortal Engines focuses on two young cast away characters looking to get themselves away from the desolation. The story centers on Hester Shaw (Hilmar), a revenge-seeking drifter who finds common cause with Tom Natsworthy (Sheehan), combining their efforts to find and board the massive predatory vehicle that is London.
Mortal Engines Crew
In the director’s chair for Mortal Engines (not“Instruments,”) is Christian Rivers, a longtime acquaintance of the Jackson/Walsh/Boyens power trio who was part of the visual effects department for many of their films, going back to the Rings Trilogy, who worked as a splinter unit director on the last two entries of The Hobbit Trilogy. Rivers recently ran second unit for director David Lowery on 2016’s Pete’s Dragon. Jackson, Walsh and Boyens are credited producers on Mortal Engines along with Amanda Walker, Deborah Forte and Ken Kamins.
Mortal Engines Release Date
Production was reportedly set to start in New Zealand in spring 2017, with a release date of December 14th, 2018.
We know that the Avengers will wage war on Thanos, but what about Captain Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in the middle of some crazy momentum right now. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is once again exceeding expectations at the box office, and Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok will follow in July and November, respectively. On the small screen, we'll get The Defenders in August and Inhumans in September, and we may still get The Punisher before the end of the year. But those still feel like appetizers before Avengers: Infinity War opens in May 2019.
Avengers: Infinity War is likely to serve as a kind of "season finale" for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. Sure, we’ll still get movies after it, but big names like Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and, of course, Robert Downey Jr. are all nearing the end of their Marvel contracts and may want to pursue other roles. Regardless, 20 years from now, you know you’re going to have a bunch of grizzled nerds looking back and saying, “They should have just ended it with Infinity War,” while waiting on line for Speedball 3: Atlantis Attacks.
Everything has been building up towards this throwdown with the Mad Titan, Thanos. While Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man 2 were about building towards the Avengers as a concept, Thor and Captain America laid down the first seeds for Infinity War with Avengers ramping it into gear.
Even then, Marvel has taken its time with it, which is pretty impressive. They skipped over Thanos for Avengers: Age of Ultron and have been treating him like Emperor Palpatine, showing up briefly here and there and spoken about in hushed tones. The writing has been on the wall for years that the third Avengers movie would be about Thanos and the Infinity Gems, and it's possible that the (currently untitled) fourth movie will deal with this as well.
Of course, none of the superhero movies these days are word-for-word faithful to the comics they borrow their titles from. Still, the mining of source material has still been strong enough, whether it was how Dark Knight Rises was a hybrid of Dark Knight Returns, Knightfall, and No Man’s Land or how Captain America: The Winter Soldier was close to the comic in all the ways that mattered. Then again, Avengers: Age of Ultron thankfully had absolutely nothing to do with the comic with the same name.
If nothing else, we can look at Jim Starlin and Ron Lim’s Infinity Gauntlet as providing at least some of the inspiration for Avengers: Infinity War. If so, it’s a really good thing that they won't follow the book too closely because while the idea of Infinity Gauntlet is awesome, the movie-going audience would turn on it if they went with the comic’s story.
Anyway, it can't be too close to Infinity Gauntlet comic, because one of the key players in that, Adam Warlock, won't be introduced until Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which won't turn up until at least a year after Infinity War hits theaters. It's difficult, but not impossible to tell that story, though. It says a lot that there have been multiple attempts since then to rewrite the Infinity Gauntlet story without Adam Warlock saving the day while all the Avengers and their ilk are reduced to dust. I mean, Brian Clevinger, Lee Black, and Brian Churilla did Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet, where instead of the Avengers being massacred by the big, purple, space genie, they have Thanos get crushed with a space truck.
Look forward to US-Ace showing up in the post-credits of Thor: Ragnarok.
If there’s one casualty you can count on, it’s Vision. Of the four Infinity Stones introduced throughout the movies so far, there isn’t much drama in Thanos getting his hands on them outside of a quick showing of power, a yelling of, “YOINK!” and a smile. Vision, on the other hand, is housing the Mind Stone on his own head. It's literally part of who he is. Maybe removing it will kill him. Maybe it won’t. What’s for sure is that Vision, the current heavy hitter of the Avengers in terms of sheer power level, is going to get wrecked as part of Thanos' path to omnipotence.
Poor Scarlet Witch can’t catch a break.
There is one aspect of the Infinity Gauntlet series that has an incredibly good chance of being remolded for the movie-going audience. In the series, Thanos is advised by Mephisto (Marvel’s Devil-who-is-not-actually-the-Devil-but-let’s-be-honest-he’s-the-Devil) in how to best use his ultimate power. Naturally, Mephisto is trying to use his forked tongue to play things his way. I highly doubt we’ll see him show up on the big screen, but it should be obvious that this role is absolutely perfect for Loki.
Ever since Avengers came out, people have been speculating that Loki – being Thanos’ underling in The Avengers – would be thrust into the Mephisto role. Considering the character’s massive popularity, it seems more and more likely.
Much like Age of Ultron, I wouldn’t expect much to come out of the movie being named after the actual Marvel miniseries Infinity War. After Infinity Gauntlet, Jim Starlin continued to write a bunch of Warlock/Thanos stories with “Infinity” in the title, but they go off the rails and wouldn’t jibe with an Avengers movie.
For one thing, Earth heroes have less and less to do with the main plot. Second, the heroes’ main obstacle during this time is to fight evil versions of themselves, which would be incredibly lazy, especially since heroes fighting dark versions of themselves is a major criticized trope in these movies as is. We already had Iron Man vs. Evil Iron Man, Captain America vs. Evil Captain America, and Hulk vs. Evil Hulk. We’re good.
Then there’s the fact that they’ve been spending years building up Thanos as the ultimate bad guy. After Gauntlet, Starlin started to write Thanos as something of an anti-hero and that’s not going to work here. He’s THE threat. Whether the movies end with him being frozen into a statue, blown to smithereens, or reduced to a farmer, it needs to be about everyone vs. Thanos.
Marvel – both as a studio and a comic company – has been sketching the architecture of these movies for a long time. There’s a reason why the Guardians of the Galaxy showed up on the Avengers cartoon years before the movie came out. The Captain Marvel movie has been in the cards for a long time. Long enough that they’ve been trying to increase Carol Danvers’ importance and make her the premiere female hero in the comics...especially since mutant heroes (and Sue Storm) are off the cinematic menu.
Here’s something interesting, though. There have been ongoing plans to introduce Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel in the movies, with Joss Whedon initially hoping to introduce her at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. But her origin is tied to another key piece of cosmic Marvel lore, as she gets her powers from Mar-Vell, the Kree soldier who is the MU's first character with the name. Could Mar-Vell show up in Infinity War, with his downfall leading into Carol’s rise in Captain Marvel, which would then funnel back into whatever the next movie is?
The original Captain Marvel took on Thanos several times and the Starlin-penned story from Captain Marvel #31-33 in the '70s is like a more streamlined version of Infinity Gauntlet. Thanos is even done in the same way: he gets ultimate power, becomes one with the cosmos itself, but forgets that the very device that made him so powerful is now left out in the open.
Then there’s the Inhumans, another superhero property Marvel’s been trying to build up over time. Long planned as a movie, it's now a TV series premiering in September 2017. The whole Inhuman concept has been built up on Agents of SHIELD with Skye being an Inhuman herself and the entire concept serving as the focus for the third season of the show. But with the Inhumans now getting established before Infinity War, it opens the door to a particulary interesting Avengers vs. Thanos tale: Infinity.
While I love the story to death, Infinity is a mess to explain, mainly because it’s merely a climax to the first act in Jonathan Hickman’s complicated Avengers/New Avengers run and that’s a whole can of worms in itself. The comic goes out of its way to make Thanos more like the little we’ve seen on his movie incarnation, in the sense that we first see him sitting on a throne in space with followers bowing down to him and handing out exposition while he merely smiles.
Speaking of thrones, Thanos finds himself at odds with the Inhumans halfway into the story, leading to a balls-out awesome confrontation with Black Bolt...
Certain characters are introduced through this story, such as Thanos’ major henchmen. For the sake of giving the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy someone to fight against, I wouldn’t doubt seeing the likes of Proxima Midnight, Black Dwarf, Ebony Maw, and Supergiant on the big screen. More importantly, this story brings in Thane, the son of Thanos and a woman of the Inhuman bloodline. He’s yet to truly make an impact in Marvel outside of the finale of Infinity and the X-Men/Guardians crossover Black Vortex, but the company definitely has some plans for him.
It’s still a year until Avengers: Infinity War makes its first step into theaters, but it's still fun to speculate. In the end, I expect a foundation of Infinity Gauntlet with cherry-picked aspects of Infinity thrown in there, along with Kree warrior Captain Mar-Vell showing up. While we know the Guardians of the Galaxy will show up, as badass as Annihilation was, I doubt we’ll see anything resembling that story, sadly. I’d love to see Drax the Destroyer tear out Thanos’ heart and show it to him before he dies as much as the next guy, but I don’t think they can swing a PG-13 rating with that.
Gavin Jasper is hoping for the cinematic debut of the Thanoscopter from Spidey Super Stories. Follow him on Twitter!
Where do you start with Wonder Woman comics? We have a reader's guide to the character's over 75 year history!
Wonder Woman made quite an impression in her big screen debut in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice last year. And with the character finally about to headline her own movie for the first time, there's no better time to get familiar with the comics and stories that shaped Wonder Woman over the years.
Wonder Woman has long been an American icon, but not many people are aware of her diverse and sometimes very strange publishing history. Here are some must reads for fans, from her earliest stories all the way through to the modern era!
Wonder Woman Chronicles
Writer Dr. William Martson (Charles Moulton) Artist: Harry G. Peter
To fully understand who Wonder Woman is and what she stands for, one must experience the original Golden Age stories by writer Dr. William Martson (Charles Moulton) and artist Harry G. Peter. Many of comics' original Golden Age stories are clunky and hard to swallow by modern standards, but not Dr. Marston's work on Wonder Woman.
Originally meant as a reaction to the budding male dominated super-hero movement of the late '30s and early '40s, Wonder Woman was an exercise that turned early comic book gender expectations on their ear. In the original Wonder Woman strips, it was the woman who did the saving every time Steve Trevor got in a bind (as he frequently did).
In this first volume, Wonder Woman journeys from her home of Paradise Island to fight Nazis, crush a black market milk trade, and fight to improve working conditions for female factory workers. The early Wonder Woman tales are a perfect dichotomy of innocence and naughtiness, suitable for young readers but with just a hint of kink and counterculture. Marston was a well-known sexual adventurer who lived in an almost lifelong polyamorous relationship with two women, his own personal island of the Amazons.
The stories are almost playful parodies of the superhero genre, but the foundation they set up was so powerfully effective that the modern Wonder Woman morphed into a feminine icon from these original fun tales. Without the stories in this volume, there would be no Wonder Woman and these wholly unique works need to be experienced to be believed.
Wonder Woman: Down to Earth (2004)
Writer: Greg Rucka Artists: Drew Johnson, Eric Shanower, and Brian Stelfreeze
When novelist Greg Rucka took over Wonder Woman in the mid-2000s, fans knew big changes were in store. What they didn't realize was that Rucka’s work would be so good as to redefine Marston’s creation for a new century. Using the lens of Marston’s sociopolitical beliefs, Rucka crafted a Wonder Woman that was sensitive to the issues of a modern world and who also kicked plenty of ass.
Down to Earth sees Diana publish a series of memoirs about her philosophies on morality in the modern world, a book that makes her a political enemy to those that stand in the way of progress and gender equality. It manages to be poignant without being preachy, but don't think it is all stolid political commentary. There's plenty of classic comic book action with the introduction of Veronica Cale, a villain designed to be Diana’s own Lex Luthor, and a character that the movies would be wise to remember for any future Wonder Woman projects.
Wonder Woman’s memoir acts as the catalyst for this volume’s key conflicts, but there is plenty of action to satisfy the hardened super-hero fans as well as the newcomer to the world of Wonder Woman. Fans of Brian K. Vaughn and Tony Harris' Ex Machina will love the political bent of this book as will fans looking for the their first exposure to Diana’s world.
Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth
Writer: Paul Dini Artist: Alex Ross (2001)
While just a single oversized 64 page story, Spirit of Truth defines everything great about the character. With lush painted art by Alex Ross that perfectly captures Diana’s power, grace, and beauty, Spirit of Truth is a treatise on why Wonder Woman is so enduring and inspiring.
Spirit of Truth is a look at Diana the woman, filled with understated moments rendered by Ross of Diana and Clark Kent having coffee, and Wonder Woman, the hero, with bombastic and powerfully rendered double page spreads of the Amazon Warrior lifting tanks, taking on subjugating armies, and fighting for the rights of women the world over.
Each page is a loving tribute to Wonder Woman’s legacy and a powerful reminder on why she endures.
Wonder Woman: Blood
Writer: Brian Azzarello Artist: Cliff Chiang (2012)
When DC decided to reboot its universe in 2011, one of the most extreme character makeovers was to Wonder Woman. Her costume, mission statement, tone, and lineage all changed, but Diana’s bravery and inspiring message stayed the same.
Using constant horror imagery and motifs, Brian Azzarrelo and Cliff Chiang created a dark world around Diana but never dimmed her spirit. This new take on Diana creates a new Wonder Woman who isn't afraid to kill for the right cause.
Make no mistake, the New 52 Diana is no Punisher, but she's an unrelenting force for good in a complex and dark world. Blood redefines the Greek gods, beings that play a vital role in Diana’s origins, giving them an aloof alien like resonance. Azzarello and Chiang up the ante, introducing some truly disturbing horror elements to Wonder Woman’s world, but in the darkness, Diana shines all the brighter.
Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia (2003)
Writer: Greg Rucka Artists: J.G. Jones, Wade Von Grawbadger, and Dave Stewart
The Hiketeia is a powerful look at the ancient idea of justice in the modern world. When Diana meets Danielle Wellys, Danielle evokes the ancient right of Hiketeia, bonding herself to Diana as a supplicant and ensuring Diana’s protection. Little does Diana realize that Danielle has been on a murder spree to avenger her slain sister, an act which brings her into conflict with the vengeance seeking Furies of Greek myth and Batman himself.
The story is a perfect look at what makes Wonder Woman tick, her obsession with fairness and justice and her unwillingness to bend in the face of adversity. It's also is a meditation on the relationship of Batman and Wonder Woman, two thirds of DC’s trinity. Their interactions and respectful but adversarial relationship should be a perfect guide as Batman and Wonder Woman interact more on the screen in the future.
Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals (2004)
Writers: George Perez, Len Wein, and George Potter Artist: George Perez
Between the time of Marston's seminal Golden Age run and Crisis on Infinite Earths, the quality of Wonder Woman stories was a mixed bag. For decades, capable writers struggled to find a direction for Diana, some of the attempts downright insulting. After her creator's death, the familiar gender roles of comics reared their ugly heads in Wonder Woman, with Diana now regularly being saved by Steve Trevor and other male character foils and, worse, a number of male characters became objects of desire for Wonder Woman to pursue. For a time, she even had the ignominious position of becoming the secretary of the Justice League, not a member of equal standing.
All this changed with the post-Crisis arrival of George Perez to the relaunched Wonder Woman title.
Gone were any sort of trappings of silliness, gone was the sense that Wonder Woman was the marginalized member of a boy’s club. In Perez’s world, Diana stood on her own. Her character reverted to her feminist roots as Marston envisioned, as regular supporting characters Steve Trevor and Etta Candy became rich and layered characters in their own right.
Perez added a sense of fatalistic realism, as he revealed that the Amazons put themselves in a self-imposed exile after Wonder Woman’s mother, Queen Hippolyta, was put into bondage and raped by Hercules. The real world politics and gender issues were front and center when Wonder Woman arrived to man’s world and became an ambassador of peace.
Continuity wise, the book removed Diana from the history of the Justice Society and the Justice League, but this allowed her to stand on her own, to not need DC’s male pantheon to support her and give her importance. For the first time in years, Diana stood alone with her beliefs, strength, and heart as her sword and shield, and she never looked better, as Perez was putting out the best pencils of his career.
At this time, the Greek gods became regular and fascinating supporting characters to Diana. Their characterizations ripped right from Greek myth, Diana questioned and inspired their world just as deeply as she did the world of mortal men. With the arrival of Perez, Wonder Woman was changed forever.
Each of these sensational Wonder Woman tales first appeared online, but DC packaged these tales in Sensation Comics a monthly comic dedicated to every iteration of the Amazing Amazon.
Written and drawn by some of the finest creators in the industry, Sensation Comics is a look at Wonder Woman in every age. From the modern age warrior to the feminist crusader of years past to the ambassador of peace and love of the '80s and '90s, all these interpretations of Wonder Woman are front and center in Sensation Comics.
Every issue was a grab bag of goodness that took Diana to every corner of reality and beyond. This book also serves as a primer for many of Wonder Woman's villains and supporting characters so Sensation Comics really is where you might want to go to meet some of Wonder Woman's nearest and dearest (and most hated) before they take Hollywood by storm.
Wonder Woman '77
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn't the first time a live action Wonder Woman has taken the world by storm. In 1977, Wonder Woman hit the network airwaves. Suddenly, the superhero who had been fighting so long in the pages of DC comics had become a national phenomenon, and in turn, actress Lynda Carter and her nylon tights became pop culture icons.
In truth, Carter was so perfect as Wonder Woman, it's almost hard to imagine anyone else wielding the magic lasso. Wonder Woman '77. followed on the success of the Adam West inspired Batman '66, DC turned to the great Lynda Carter tales of yesteryear to deliver some classic action to legions of fans who remember when Wonder Woman fought crime under the bright lights of disco balls. And you know what? Despite the campiness and bell bottomed nostalgia, or perhaps because of it, Wonder Woman '77 truly delivers some great Diana stories.
The tales in these collections are so gleefully aware of what they are that it is impossible not to fall in love with the whole anachronistic package. Wonder Woman '77 proves that in any era, Wonder Woman is timeless.
Wonder Woman: Earth One
Brilliant and always quirky writer Grant Morrison takes Wonder Woman back to her roots in this must read alternative take on the Wonder Woman mythos. Earth One combines modern day super hero storytelling with sexual fetishism and post-modern feminism to create possibly the only modern Wonder Woman story true to Marston’s original vision of the character. With plenty of action, the story presents the idea that submission to peace is the only solution to violent dominion in this feminist take on comics’ leading lady. And oh, that art. Paquette’s renderings of Diana and her world are achingly beautiful.
Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies
Some of the big problems that fans and creators have had to deal with over the years is the many reboots, reimaginings, and retcons, that Wonder Woman has had to endure over the years. But DC tries to fix all that in The Lies, the first volume of the Rebirth era of Wonder Woman. For those of you not in the know, Rebirth was DC’s attempt to restore classical elements to its pantheon of characters after the wholesale changes of the New 52. Some of the New 52 Wonder Woman stuff was pretty darn compelling, but if Diana was going to return to her roots, some origin exploration and explanation had to be made. Sounds complex, right? Not with Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp at the helm.
The Lies is the story of a powerful and mythic Amazon Princess who is determined to uncover the truth of her fractured past. Rucka did some amazing things with his run on Diana in the early 2000s, and with Rebirth, he proves that he is indeed the greatest WW writer of this generation. The Lies takes Diana on a journey to break through her false pasts to find the real hero of the Rebirth era.
Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Year One
While Diana searches for her true origins in The Lies, Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott present her past to readers in Wonder Woman: Year One, a perfect amalgamation of Diana’s many past origin tales.
Year One is a story of war and sacrifice that is a perfect primer for those that need an introduction to how Wonder Woman is represented in modern comics. It’s fascinating to read Year One and Earth One together to see how malleable and timeless the story of Wonder Woman can be. And Nicola Scott’s artwork! Diana never looked more regal!
Five episodes in and American Gods is giving us some clues as Shadow & Wednesday meet Mr. World.
This American Gods review contains spoilers.
American Gods Season 1 Episode 5
If you don't know the American Gods story, then "Lemon-Scented You" was the first episode that even attempted to explain anything to you. (That's right! Five episodes in and this show is still mostly playing enigmatic. I can respect that.)
Ironically, the most straightforward explanation comes in the form of Mr. Wednesday explaining his mission to a detective he knows won't believe him. The sitch? He is gathering Old Gods to challenge the New Gods for the faith of America. He has Czernobog, the God of Death on this side. The New Gods fear him, but they don't fear Wednesday. Not like they should... (In Wednesday's opinion.)
The New Gods might not fear Wednesday, but they do respect him (well, not Tech Boy, but who does he respect?). As Mr. World tells Tech Boy, berating his minion's irreverence for the ancient god: "This man is older than you will ever be. He has wisdom. He has knowledge, which is different, which you would know if you had either. This man deserves our respect."
In the book, Mr. World is the leader of the Men in Black, getting his power from America's paranoia and fear surrounding conspiracy theory cover-ups. As seen in the TV show, it's hard to nail down exactly what Mr. World stands for. He is an all-seeing eye, which does seem akin to the intelligence community in real-life that is both actually immensely powerful and which occupies an ever-increasing space in the American imagination. Mr. World understands brand and corporate globalism, two of the most influential forces in the modern world. He is strange and he is supremely focused and he tends to get what he wants.
When Tech Boy first apologizes (a thoroughly inadequate: "We're in a weird, tense place racially in America and I don't want to add to that climate of hatred.") Mr. World asks Shadow if he would like to knock out a few of his teeth. Shadow, who is not a violent man, looks horrified at the suggestion and the situation. However, when Tech Boy later disrespects Wednesday, Mr. World has Media knock out two of Tech Boy's teeth with a blown kiss.
"My gift to you," Mr. World tells Shadow as the teeth roll towards him. Mr. World is the kind of god who tells you what you want, then gives it to you. Though both Shadow and Wednesday seem immune to his eccentric, unsettling charms. When Mr. World has Media give Wednesday their pitch — they offer to name the missile that will destroy North Korea after him, the Odin, (how thoughtful!) — Wednesday has no interest. "You say 'merger.' I hear 'exile.'"
Wednesday doesn't want power and belief on any terms. He wants the world to be the way it once was. He wants worship and faith to be the way it once was. "That's all you do: occupy their time. We gave back. We give them meaning." Worship of Wedesday via the means of the New Gods wouldn't be worship at all — at least not to Wednesday.
If you had any doubt of Mr. World's power and utter lack of empathy for humanity, then look no further than the state he leaves the police precinct in. It's a mass murder scene scene out of Hannibal— though, perhaps, messier. Mr. World and his minions took out an entire town's police department as easily (if not moreso) as Wednesday pulled off his bank heist con. One major difference is that Mr. World won't get caught. He doesn't just know everything; he shapes the stories that run the world.
It doesn't matter that Mr. World slaughtered an entire police department. The story will reflect what he wants it to reflect. He has Media for that. She's his right-hand man and she knows how to sell a story. She may be able to knock out teeth with a kiss, but she hardly ever has to use her physical powers to get what she wants. She convinces Tech Boy to apologize to Shadow by channeling Bowie and she tries to get Wednesday and Shadow to drop their defenses by putting on her best Marilyn Monroe. Her character continues to be one of the most headache-inducingly meta. A character whose power is derived from Media on one of the most powerful mediums of our time: TV. Even when Media has dropped one of her characters within the world of the show (which she hardly ever does), Gillian Anderson as Media is always on for us.
Shadow and Laura reunite.
The reunion of Shadow and Laura was less effective than the second half of "Lemon-Scented You."
After the build-up of an entire backstory episode that prolonged the reunion we first saw at the end of "Head Full of Snow," their interactions were anti-climactic. Laura does not do a very good job explaining herself to Shadow, which is perhaps in character. Instead, she clings onto her cool girl emotional detachment. We know she is faking it, at least partially, but it is hard to get too invested in her explanation when we have already seen everything she tells Shadow carefully outlined in its own episode.
Laura's later interactions with Mad Sweeney are much more compelling. Emily Browning is a tiny 5'1''. Paolo Schrieber is a massive 6'5''. When he tries to intimidate her, she simply flicks him across the room. It's the opposite of what we usually see in a scene like this: a man using his physical presence to intimidate a much smaller woman. Laura might not be the nicest character on this show, but she sure is a likeable one.
Despite her efforts to stay suave, Laura does manage to show some vulnerability when she asks Shadow to take her back. They kiss and her heart beats for the first time since she died. Shadow literally brings her back to life, if only for a second. Though their conversation was less than riveting, their estrangement is the stuff of tragic romance.
Though Shadow doesn't want to be Laura's "puppy" anymore, it seems like he might want a different role in her life. However, when he and Wednesday are taken away by the police while Laura is having a soak in the tub, Laura is left to think that Shadow cares so little, he has taken off without her. Something tells me they will meet again. In the mean time, however, Laura's heart won't beat.
Coming to American vignette — Nunyunnini
This week's "Coming to America" vignette is the least successful, perhaps, in its connection to the rest of the story. (Though the animation itself was gorgeous.) While the "Coming to America" vignettes are always only loosely-connected to the plot and themes of that episode, the story of Nunymunnini, an ancient Mammoth god of some of the first Americans ever, feels the most tenuously-connected.
Sure, the story of Nunymunnini serves to illustrate how gods can truly be forgotten, despite the "gifts" they give their believers. It also highlights the importance of man in that process. The gods may be far more powerful than any mere human, but it is the collective belief of humanity that matters. We have the power to keep gods alive.
If Mr. World wanted to talk to Wednesday, he could have just found him at the hotel. He didn't need to turn Wednesday and Shadow over to the police. Yes, Mr. World is giving Wednesday a chance to consider his "opportunities," but he is also demonstrating his immense power.
"I'm sorry... foy lynching you."
"Like a Renaissance pope, I absolve you. You may sit." Crispin Glover is wonderfully eccentric as Mr. World.
"Spicy, medium, or chunky. They get a choice, of coure — of course! But they are buying salsa."
"Just like an oyster, you're trying to cover me up with something smooth and slimy. Pretty on a necklace, but, inside the shell, that slimy thing just wants that scratchy thing out of there."
Wonderfalls sighting! Tracie Thoms, who played the female detective in tonight's episode also played Mahandra in Bryan Fuller's wonderful Wonderfalls.
Mad Sweeney's bad luck continues... with a little help from the devilishly smart Laura Moon. He ends tonight's episode fleeing from the police station after having been arrested for Laura's murder. He has plans to wait until Laura's "meat" slides off of her bones and he can take "his" coin back for himself. In the mean time, however, his bad luck is most likely going to get in the way. Was it his bad luck, perhaps, that contributed to the bad timing of the Shadow/Wednesday arrest?
As Wednesday and Shadow flee the police station, Shadow is attacked by some kind of wood creature that we have never seen before. Could this be another god — perhaps Yggdrassil from Norse mythology? Or is it a manifestation of the Bone Orchard that Shadow keeps dreaming about?
Speaking of Shadow's dreams, the poor man continues to doubt what is real and what is not, constantly asking Wednesday if he is awake or not. He is unwilling or unable to trust his own sense of consciousness.
Jim Starlin, the creator of Thanos, tells us about what it feels like to see his creations immortalized in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
We won't see Guardians of the Galaxy 3 for a while, but we know who we'd like to see in it!
The Guardians of the Galaxy movie was a high risk, high reward situation for Marvel. It was a film that tested the waters to see if characters removed from the perceived a-list of superheroes could make it as a film property. It worked. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opened big, and now Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is definitely happening.
Fans already know that classic Marvel cosmic concepts like the Kree and the Nova Corps will appear again, but other great Marvel spacefarers are just waiting in the wings for the Marvel Studios machine to call their names. Here is a look at some choice Marvel cosmic characters and concepts that could potentially join the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy 3.
First Appearance: Incredible Hulk #271 (1982)
Created by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema
Hey, Disney, didja know you guys have the rights to a space walrus? Well, when the Mouse finds this little tidbit out, don’t be surprised if we see Rocket pal around with Wal Rus in Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Wal Rus was Rocket’s right hand, um, walrus in the raccoon’s pre-Guardians days. Wal Rus was a staunch ally, a great pilot, and like any good space walrus, could turn his tusks into firearms.
Wal Rus is good in a tussle and is sure to turn up in Marvel’s new Rocket Raccoon comic series. Disney does so love their talking animals, and here’s a marketable piece of walrus just ready for the Disney machine.
Tusk guns, c’mon now, are we going to pretend that isn’t awesome?
First appearance: Fantastic Four #211 (1979)
Created by Marv Wolfman and John Byrne
In the first film, the Guardians faced a space badass with a hammer. Well, for the next film; why not make it a space badass with an ax?
Terrax is one of the most notorious killers in the Marvel cosmos and was even a chosen Herald of Galactus. We’re not sure if Fox has the rights to Terrax because of the whole Fantastic Four deal, but if they don't, Marvel would have a hard time finding a bigger threat to the Marvel cosmos than Terrax the Tamer, a monstrous force that fought the entire FF to a standstill and was instrumental in the formation of the New Warriors.
Hell, Vince McMahon could make Terrax versus Drax the main event at WrestleManiaand I’d buy a ticket.
48. Monark Starstalker
First Appearance: Marvel Premiere #32 (1976)
Created by Howard Chaykin
Why Monark Starstalker? Well, primarily it’s because the dude’s name is Monark Starstalker. If you are a company and hold the copyright on a swashbuckling space character named Monark Starstalker, by golly, it is your duty to exploit it.
Starstalker is psychically connected to his ship, he can synch his senses with robotic bird named Ulysses in order to see, he can appear as anyone through his perception bending nano-cloud, become invisible, and can avoid detection by machine. He is the closest thing Marvel has to a Flash Gordon or a Buck Rogers, and would be an excellent point of view character as Marvel expands their cosmic library of characters.
Again, I repeat, he’s a blind space swashbuckler that uses a robot bird to see the universe. What James Gunn can do with that...
First appearance: Marvel Premiere #5 (1972)
Created by Robert E. Howard, Steve Englehart, and Frank Brunner
More of an entity that would most likely appear in Doctor Strange, but as the Guardians traverse the galaxy, it would be pretty cool to see them encounter something Lovecraftian. The coolest part about the cosmic horror Shuma-Gorath is that he was created by none other than Lovecraft contemporary Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian. It would be unforgettable to see some old school cosmic horror pop up in Guardians as well as allowing something created by the great Howard to be part of the Marvel Universe.
Space can be a very scary place, and if the Guardians have the misfortune of peering beyond the void, Shuma-Gorath awaits. And let’s face it, whether we know it or not, we have all, at some point, wanted to see a tree fight a Lovecraftian nightmare.
First appearance: Iron Man #55 (1973)
Created by Jim Starlin and Mike Friedrich
He was an Avenger, an Eternal, and has the misfortune of being the brother of the Mad Titan, Thanos. Most of all, Starfox has been a cool and underutilized character in his own right, a roguish love god who enjoys the finer things in life and a great adventurous spirit. As Marvel continues to populate their Cinematic Universe with more and more of their great heroes, let us not forget about Eros, a potential Guardian who could act as a romantic foil in the budding Star-Lord/Gamora relationship or serve as a story point to further the coming of Thanos.
45. Seekers 3000
First appearance: Marvel Premiere #41 (1978)
Created by Doug Moench and Tom Sutton
The Guardians aren’t the only rag tag group of space misfits flying around Marvel space. They may be obscure, but the crew that appeared in Seekers 3000 is a fondly remembered concept by those lucky enough to have stumbled across their very few appearances in quarter bins.
The basic concept is the last survivors of Earth looking for a new home, or something, but, the characters and ships are all well-designed and the concept very worthy of exploration. Heck, look at the ship on the cover of Marvel Premiere #41, a film appearance by the Seekers would be the closest thing we could possibly get to a Guardians/Star Trek crossover.
44. The Stark
First appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (1990)
Created by Jim Valentino
James Gunn and company would have to do some story gymnastics to figure out how this despotic alien race got a hold of Tony Stark’s technology, but fans would lose their minds if this advanced race of alien conquerors appeared. You see, the Stark are an alien race who use Iron Man armor and Stark Tech to conquer planets and spread mayhem. They wrongly worship Tony Stark with a religious fervor and use his inventions to spread terror throughout the galaxy.
In the original comics, the Stark existed in the far future, but having this race of cosmic villains go up against the Guardians can provide a tether between the world of the Avengers and the world of the Guardians. Heck, Tony Stark joined the Guardians in the comics, the Stark can provide the story impetus to get the character fighting side by side with Star-Lord and Rocket, and we know we all want to see that.
Just a reminder that the leader of the Stark’s name is Taserface. I just feel you should know that. Sound familiar?
43. Doctor Minerva
First appearance Captain Marvel #50 (1977)
Created byScott Edelman and Al Milgrom
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 moved our team away from the villainy of the Kree, but you have to believe that some Kree could still be out there that have it in for the team that took out Ronan the Accuser. In the comics, Doctor Minerva was a cold and calculating geneticist that wanted to breed with the OG space hero Captain Mar-Vell. When Mar-Vell spurned her advances, Minerva swore to take revenge on the Kree champion turned Earth hero.
In a future film, just replace Mar-Vell with Peter Quill and you have Guardians' newest lethal lady. Heck. Doctor Minerva would also be an amazing big bad in the coming Captain Marvel film with Brie Larson.
42. Star Brand
First appearance: Star Brand #1 (1986)
Created by Jim Shooter, John Byrne, John Romita Jr.
Originally relegated to Marvel's New Universe, the hero and concept of the Star Brand, a cosmic tattoo that grants its wearer incredible powers, has become a part of the Marvel Universe proper in the pages of The Avengers. Writer Jonathan Hickman brushed the dust off the Star Brand and created a new character to wield it, introducing a new symbol of cosmic might that could shake up the Marvel Universe proper.
We all know Marvel loves to introduce concepts in the comics before they appear in a film, so it is conceivable that this new character could be a harbinger to a movie appearance. What better place for the wielder of the ultimate cosmic weapon than in the ultimate cosmic film franchise?
First Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #7 (1990)
Created by Jim Valentino
If Mephisto is to arrive in a future Doctor Strange movie, perhaps his coming can be complemented by his daughter Malevolence, a character who has faced the future Guardians in the pages of the '90s comic. She certainly is daddy’s girl, and like Gamora and Nebula she would seek to escape the shadow of her evil father.
First appearance: Iron Man #54 (1973)
Created by Bill Everett, Mike Friedrich, George Tuska, and Jim Starlin
She’s Drax’s daughter, that alone makes Moondragon a no-brainer for inclusion. She’s an insanely powerful telepath, during her heel days she roofied Thor, and she has been an Avenger, Defender, and a Guardian. But most of all, during her Guardians days, she gained the ability to transform into a giant dragon, and I for one need to see a raccoon with a machine gun riding a tree riding a dragon. Plus, y’know, Drax’s daughter.
39. Molecule Man
First appearance: Fantastic Four #20 (1963)
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Owen Reece was a sickly young man doted on by his mother. He was a mama’s boy who was abused by the world around him and after an accident, became one of the most powerful beings in the cosmos. With the power to control the very fabric of reality, Molecule Man is a cosmic threat trapped in the body of a man still mourning his mother, a villain who tugs on the heart strings. If Fox doesn’t have the exclusive rights to this reluctant FF villain, Owen Reese could be a worthy candidate for the big bad of Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Marvel’s best villains are the tragic ones, and the timid but nearly omnipotent Molecule Man is as tragic as it comes.
First appearance: Thor #154 (1968)
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Mangog once defeated Odin in single combat and masqueraded as the king of the gods in order to drain all the gods of Asgard of their life force. So, tell that to Loki...Mangog was replacing Odin before it was cool. In his less glamorous days, Mangog served as a minion of Thanos, a little bit of character history that could serve to thrust the cosmic killer into the film spotlight. Thanos is going to play a huge rule moving forward and he is going to need minions, lackeys, and heavies. Why not use a creature that once defeated Odin to enforce Thanos’ will?
Plus, we just need to see that awesome Jack Kirby design on the big screen.
37. The Elders of the Universe
First appearance: Avengers #28 (1966)
Created by Stan Lee and Don Heck
We’ve had The Collector and Grandmaster is on his way to Thor: Ragnarok, but we are dying to see the rest of the cosmic bigwigs known as the Elders of the Universe. The Elders are like the McLaughlin Group but with cosmic demi-gods instead of boring guys in suits. In the comics, it was the Elders that once wielded the Infinity Gems. Thanos took them down one by one to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet. It seems Thanos is going down the same path in the films so perhaps the Elders have a role yet to play.
Many of the Elders would be perfect foils for the Guardians. Imagine The Champion against Drax or the Gardener against Groot. However you introduce this cosmic council of conceptual beings, they have been a cornerstone of the cosmic side of Marvel for decades.
36. Kang the Conqueror
First appearance: Fantastic Four #19 (1963)
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Well, someone’s going to have to wield the Time Gem, right? It’s all a matter of TIME (get it?) before Kang pulls the villain card in a future Avengers film. Other than Ultron, Kang is probably the Avengers’ greatest adversary. Who doesn’t want to see the Marvel Cinematic Universe get timey wimey?
Kang is an evil freakin’ version of Doctor Who, and this complex baddie can be eased into the Marvel Universe via an appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy 3. Kang’s evil cannot be contained in one movie and it would be a blast to see Star-Lord, Rocket, Groot, Drax, and Gamora get up to some time shenanigans.
35. Pip the Troll
First appearance: Strange Tales #179 (1975)
Created by Jim Starlin
Most of the old school Infinity Watch are already part of the first movie, with Drax, Gamora, and Thanos all playing major roles. Well, it just doesn’t seem right to keep Pip, the Troll out of the proceedings. Pip was a long time ally to Adam Warlock just like Gamora and Drax and could add even more humor to the world of the Guardians. Hey...we hear that Peter Dinklage guy is pretty good, and he might just be making an appearance in Avengers: Infinity War.
First appearance: Strange Tales #138 (1965)
Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko
I don’t care where and I don’t care how, but somehow, somewhere, Marvel MUST include Eternity in a film. He’s the living embodiment of reality, a universe given sentience- as drawn by Steve Ditko. This needs to happen. Eternity has more of a chance of appearing in a Doctor Strangemovie but, it would be really awesome to see the Guardians' reaction if they were to witness the entire universe...walking around...in a cape. They might be the Guardians of the Galaxy, but Eternity is the Galaxy. He should probably be voiced by Stan Lee or something.
First appearance: Thor #225 (1974)
Created by Gerry Conway and John Buscema
Not many comic beings come with the power levels of Firelord. First appearing in Thor, Firelord became a herald of Galactus, proving his cosmic badassery. Firelord served time with the future iteration of the Guardians and even joined a Guardians spin off team, the Galactic Guardians. This flame haired cosmic powerhouse is every bit as powerful as Thor or the Hulk and has a cool anti-hero vibe that would make him a perfect story engine for a future Guardians film.
The visual alone could sell Firelord, with his flaming hair and fiery staff, Firelord would just pop on the screen. Firelord also has a fierce temper which could put him at odds with the Guardians or he could even join the team as a powerhouse that rivals Drax.
32. The Spaceknights
First Appearance: Rom #1 (1979)
Created by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema
If Marvel had the rights to Rom you can bet your ass he would be number one on this list, but they don’t, so fans will just have to settle for the Spaceknights, which is okay because they are pretty awesome in their own right. Writer Bill Mantlo created such a riveting back story of the Galador/Wraith War in the pages of Rom, that Marvel could seriously make a trilogy of films about the conflict that would rival the scope of Star Wars.
Rom was a toy designed by Parker Brothers and licensed by Marvel. It was really just a large space knight toy that made noises, nothing more, but Mantlo and company fleshed out the hunk of plastic to such a degree that the comic lasted much longer on the stands than the toy did on the shelves. In 2000, writer of all things cosmic Jim Starlin introduced Rom’s sons, Balin and Tristan, who become the first of a new generation of Spaceknights, which is a place Marvel films can start if they were inclined to brings the Spaceknights to the big screen. Marvel may not have Rom, but they have all the concepts introduced in Rom, and those concepts are strong enough to become a huge property.
First appearance The Avengers #19 (1965)
Created by Stan Lee and Don Heck
Mantis was a compelling and hilarious addition to the Guardians, and we want more of the bug lady! Did you know that the comic book version of Mantis was once engaged to the former combat mentor of Clint Barton? After Mantis joined the Avengers, she met and fell in love with the Swordsman. Mantis inspired Swordsman to give up his villainous ways and the two became quite the item. Well, until Swordsman died and was replaced by the spirit of a vegetable alien. But that’s a story for another time...
With the Guardians on their way to Earth, it would be quite cool indeed if we learned more about Hawkeye’s past and tied that past into the next chapter of Mantis’ cinematic evolution. Swordsman is a master combatant that could hold his own against any Guardian and it would be fitting if one of Marvel’s strangest couples joined together in the always weird world of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
30. Shocket Raccoon
First Appearance Howard the Duck #1 (2016)
Created by Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones
If you thought Rocket was unique think again. Meet Shocket Raccoon, a female counterpart to Rocket genetically engendered by The Collector to breed with Rocket. Listen, Peter and Gamora are a bee’s eye lash away from hooking up, Drax and Mantis have this strange little almost romance going, so it’s time for Rocket to find love amongst the stars.
Shocket is every inch the space badass as Rocket and would be a perfect companion for everyone’s favorite intergalactic trash panda. In the comics, Rocket and Howard the Duck help Shocket escape the Collector’s menagerie and all of a sudden, Rocket isn’t so alone in the galaxy. In every film, Rocket finds a bit more heart, maybe it’s time he gave that heart to a woman that was literally made for him. And listen, Shocket is an excellent pilot and likes to make things go boom. The Guardians can always use one more of those types.
29. Supreme Intelligence
First appearance: Fantastic Four #65 (1967)
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Forget Doctor Who’s the Face of Boe, the Supreme Intelligence is sci-fi’s original gross floaty head. The Supreme Intelligence is the master planner of the Kree, a race that featured so prominently in the Guardiansmovie and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. With a Ms. or Captain Marvel film so often talked about, we are going to have to meet the Kree boss sooner or later, and the next Guardians film could be the perfect place. The Supreme Intelligence is also the title Den of Geek editor Mike Cecchini forces his staff to refer to him as.
28. The Beyonder
First appearance: Secret Wars #1 (1984)
Created by Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck
Want to send a Marvel fan into paroxysms of glee? Just say three words: cinematic Secret Wars. How are the Avengers and Guardians going to end up meeting? (Because they will)
Well, if not to stop Thanos, then how about Secret Wars, a gathering of Marvel’s greatest in a contest of champions? The Beyonder’s name still carries cache with fans who remembers Marvel’s first crossover event, but please Marvel, lose the soul glow ‘fro.
27. The Stranger
First appearance: Uncanny X-Men #11 (1965)
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
The Stranger may have first appeared in the X-Men, but the mysterious space giant with the Ron Swanson mustache has long been a force in the Marvel Cosmos taking on the Silver Surfer, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, and even the Champions (we love the Champions...someone has to). The Stranger played an important role in the Infinity Gauntlet opposing Thanos and has long been trying to inflict his will on the people of Earth, something that would surely piss of Peter Jason Quill and the Guardians should they ever run afoul of ol' space mustache here.
First appearance: Eternals #1 (1976)
Created by Jack Kirby
We got a teasing glimpse of them in the first film, and had their story fleshed out by Ego, but the story of the Celestials is so epic it is more than worthy of further screen time. The Celestials are unknowable space gods who travel the cosmos judging if planets are worthy of life. Thumbs down means it’s all over.
The Celestials were created by the cosmic deity Jack Kirby and have always been one of the more awesome spectacles of Cosmic Marvel.
This article is very long, hence the two pages....
Bounty hunters keep very busy in the galaxy far, far away. Here's a list of the best bounty hunter stories in Star Wars!
If you’re a fan of a certain age, you will remember setting up your Kenner Star Wars action figures in the same Usual Suspects-like line up that the bounty hunters appeared in during their The Empire Strikes Back debut. Think back now, Darth Vader lecturing these strange aliens with perhaps a few Star Destroyer commanders smattered around, warning them against disintegrating their bounty.
Other than Boba Fett, these intergalactic scum only had a few seconds of screen time, but those brief ticks of a clock were unforgettable. The image of a few alien toughs, some truly salty looking armored humans, and even a few droids fueled the imaginations of Star Wars fans for generations.
Rumor has it that one of the upcoming Star Wars Story films could feature some of these famous bounty hunters, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to spotlight some of the coolest Expanded Universe tales featuring Dengar, IG-88, Boba Fett, Bossk, Zuckuss, and 4-LOM.
Now remember, most of these stories were wiped out of continuity when Disney took over the galaxy far, far away, but that doesn’t make them any less readable and awesome. And yeah, we may even have a few that are part of the current Star Wars canon. So strap on your blasters and we promise, there will be no disintegrations as we turn back time and examine the coolest bounty hunter stories of the Star Wars galaxy.
Ah Dengar, we know kids of the 80s probably referred to you as Diaper Head, but you are still badass. Dengar was front and center when Vader gave the bounty hunters their marching orders and could also be seen chilling out in Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi. Dengar was played by Morris Bush, an actor who also appeared in Hammer’s Scars of Dracula (1970), the Christopher Lee pot boiler Creeping Flesh (1973), and the bizarre Ringo Starr musical comedy Son of Dracula (1974). Interestingly enough, Bush worked as a stand in for David Prowse in Star Wars (1977). According to Prowse, that is Bush’s foot you can see kicking Obi-Wan’s cape after Luke’s mentor is struck down by the Dark Lord of the Sith.
But where can you read about ‘ol Diaper Head? In the 1996 Kevin J. Anderson-edited Tales of the Bounty Hunters anthology (get ready, this isn’t the only time I’m going to mention this collection in this article), author Dave Wolverton related Dengar’s origin in a short tale entitled "Payback." In this piece of essential Dengar fiction (yes, such a thing exists), Wolverton details that Dengar used to be a swoop bike racer who was injured as a teenager by his racing rival. Of course, that rival was none other than a young Han Solo. Wolverton makes Dengar’s vendetta against the captain of Millennium Falcon very personal.
But Wolverton’s hyper-readable story isn’t our Expanded Universe essential Dengar pick. That honor goes to the season four episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars entitled "Bounty." In this toyetic installment of Clone Wars, an aimless Asajj Ventress joins up with a band of roguish bounty hunters that includes a teenage Boba Fett, Bossk, and the grizzled, weathered Dengar. Dengar plays a secondary role in this episode (doesn’t he always) to Fett and Ventress, but when Dengar springs into action, he truly shines. Better yet, Dengar is voiced by lifelong Star Wars lover Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Star Trek), and you just know that when Pegg was a wee lad he took his Kenner Dengar figure on many adventures. Pegg’s Star Wars enthusiasm shows as he fills the once tabula rasa Dengar with a salty, badass personality. "Bounty" was a Dirty Dozen-like adventure through the underbelly of the Star Wars galaxy and finally gave fans a sense of who the bandaged badass of Star Wars truly is.
With a scant few seconds of screen team, IG-88 showed the world that not every droid in the Star Warsuniverse is cutesy. Yeah, we saw a few black imperial R2 and R5 units and a smattering of Death Star sroids, but IG-88 was a different mechanical animal all together. IG-88 was all sharp edges with a surreal design and multiple big honking firearms. Fans only got one quick glimpse of this death machine, but it was enough to emblazon this oddly shaped engine of destruction in fans’ minds forever. IG-88 was built and operated by puppeteer and effects guru Bill Hargreaves, and by operated I mean that Hargreaves moved IG’s head a tiny bit in Empire. But, damn, what a creation!
So we’re going to take IG-88’s chosen chronicle from the aforementioned Tales of the Bounty Hunters. In a short story entitled "Therefore I Am," it was revealed that everyone’s favorite murder droid had a great deal in common with Marvel’s Ultron. You see, in this tale, it was revealed that there were actually four models of IG-88 that shared the same malevolent consciousness. The IG master intelligence wanted to kick start a droid revolution and conquer the galaxy, but when it was activated, IG-88 murdered its creators and then built three duplicates of itself. One of those duplicates answered Vader’s call for bounty hunters while the others began plotting for the droid uprising. After Vader gave his marching orders, IG-88 stealthily downloaded Imperial files off the ships’ computer. Through this data theft, the assassin droid discovered top secret plans detailing the construction of a second Death Star.
After IG sent that info to his duplicates, it tracked Solo to Bespin where it had a violent encounter with Boba Fett. Hey, remember the IG carcass in the background of the Ugnaught smelter sequence in The Empire Strikes Back, the one where the little pig people played keep away with Chewbacca? Yeah, this short story explains that carcass, as Fett blasts the IG unit to oblivion. But there were still three IG-88s out there. Two of them went after Fett but the last remaining IG-88, get this now, downloaded itself into and took over the freaking Death Star. Yes, according to Anderson’s "Therefore I Am," at the end of Return of the Jedi, the Death Star gained sentience thanks to IG-88. Of course, this was right before Lando Calrissian, Wedge Antilles, and Nein Numb blew the sucker up, but still, a malevolently intelligent Death Star is about as badass as it gets. That certainly would have led to the droid uprising, if not for fate and a fateful, last ditch bid at freedom by a desperate band of rebels.
IG-88—from a blink and you’ll miss it first appearance to a bee’s eyelash away from wiping out all non-mechanical life in the galaxy. Awesome.
Can you imagine Star Wars without Fett? Honestly, the whole saga wouldn’t have been much different on screen, but it certainly would be fundamentally altered in the hearts and minds of fans, because Boba Fett’s legend lives in the Expanded Universe, or fans’ own personal expanded universes at least. There is a mystique to Fett. Maybe it’s because Boba Fett was the first mail away action figure which signaled to SW fans everywhere after 1977’s Star Wars that there would be more adventures in a galaxy far, far away to come. Perhaps it’s the fact that the Fett figure was supposed to feature a rocket-firing backup until Kenner grew worried that kids would choke on Fett’s spring loaded missile. Dude, Fett is so dangerous he was considered a threat to real world children before he made his film debut. Take that Dengar!
Perhaps it’s that badass souped up Stormtrooper like armor that Fett wears or perhaps it is because every inch of this gravelly voiced outlaw is covered in dangerous armaments. There are countless reasons that the whole world has a Boba Fettish and the stories we are about to list take advantage of this rarified adoration. It’s hard to narrow down just one great Boba Fett Expanded Universe story, so we won’t. We’ll hit you with a few.
Boba Fett was played by Jeremy Bulloch in both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. For years, no one knew the lethal bounty hunter’s origins until George Lucas detailed Fett’s clone birth in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002), but before that, Fett was a mystery than many Expanded Universe creators tried to shed some light on.
First up is a yarn entitled "Prey" that appeared in Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars Tales #11 (2002). This flashback story written and drawn by Kia Asamiya features Fett being dispatched by Moff Tarkin to retrieve Han Solo after the future hero of the Rebellion defects from the Imperial Navy. Darth Vader disagrees with giving this assignment to a bounty hunter and goes after Solo himself. This leads to Fett and Vader engaging in an eye popping lightsaber battle in the middle of the Mos Eisley Cantina! Fett, who had procured a lightsaber from a dead Jedi (awesome), held his own against Vader, proving that this bounty hunter backs down from no man. Solo escaped by attaching his ship to a Star Destroyer and floating away when the warship dumped its garbage. Hmm, that sounds familiar, huh? This battle also built that subtle grudging respect that can be felt when Vader addressed Fett aboard the Star Destroyer Executer in Empire.
From the Dark Horse era to the first Marvel Comics era, let us go back in time to Star Wars#81 (1984) by Jo Duffy, Ron Frenz, Tom Palmer, and Tom Mandrake. There have been a number of Expanded Universe accounts of Boba Fett escaping the Sarlaac Pit, but this semi-classic published by Marvel just happens to be the first. The issue was entitled (get ready for it) "Jawas of Doom!" Let that sink in for a moment.
The story takes place just after the Battle of Endor and sees Han Solo searching for some extra cash. Han, Chewbacca, Leia, R2, and C-3P0 fly to Tatooine so Han can withdraw his credits from a Mos Eisely bank. Sadly, Han’s credits were frozen at the same time he was (in carbonite, natch!). Meanwhile, Boba Fett was spat out by the Sarlaac Pit and picked up by aggressive Jawas. It seems that since Jabba the Hutt’s demise, the Jawas have become more and more aggressive. In other words, the only thing that was keeping these hooded desert rodents in check was a mob boss, and now that Jabba is gone, the Jawas have become a gaggle of little murder bundles. So the Jawas droidnap R2-D2 and Boba Fett, whom they mistake for a droid due to his strange armor. Boba Fett has amnesia because comics and becomes the Jawas hapless prisoner (this is like an action figure adventure I would have had with a 103 degree fever).
Han, who sets on a rescue mission, boards the Sandcrawler and is shocked to see Boba Fett. The two former enemies work together to defeat the Jawas (no, really) until Fett regains his memory and takes a pot shot at Han. Han leaps to safety just as the Sandcrawler plummets into, you guessed it, the Sarlaac Pit. Wahh-wahh-wahhhhhh! What a strange little must-read story. First off, it featured the first post-Return of the Jedi appearance of Fett and, secondly, it then almost turned Fett into a kind of tragic hero before depositing him back into the same pit of death in which he met his ignominious film demise. One has to wonder if Marvel was under marching orders by Lucasfilm to make sure Fett stayed in the Sarlaac, and if so, what kind of plans did Lucas have for the fan favorite hunter killer back in 1984? And what about those killer Jawas. How are you not eBaying this right now?
Let’s move on to some alternate escapes from the Sarlaac Expanded Universe fiction, shall we? We have discussed Tales of the Bounty Hunters ad nauseam (and we will again), but now, let's take a look at Tales from Jabba’s Palace (1996), another Kevin J. Anderson-edited anthology. In "A Barve Like That: The Tale of Boba Fett" by J.D. Montgomery, readers get to experience Fett’s time in the Sarlaac. This short story features the most backstory that was ever revealed about the mysterious bounty hunter pre-Attack of the Clones, as fans are welcomed into Fett’s thoughts for the first time. Most of these thoughts consist of “Oh my lord, I’m slowly being digested over a period of a thousand years. It hurts. It hurts. Solo is a dick!” but there is also a great deal revealed about the heart and spirit of the hunter.
This tale mostly takes place within the Sarlaac, as a trapped Fett is able to converse with the Pit’s first victim, a being named Susejo. Through Susejo, Fett learns how hopeless his plight truly is—but guys, this is Boba Fett, the most lethal bounty hunter in the galaxy, a walking weapon, the first mail away action figure! Fett isn’t having any of that noise and tricks the Sarlaac into digesting his rocket pack. Well, Kenner was right, that backpack was dangerous, and when the thing explodes, Fett is freed of the Sarlaac. Pretty intense and much better than dying while fighting rabid Jawas. Montgomery’s tale really highlighted what Star Wars fans new all along—that nothing can stop Boba Fett, the most lethal bounty hunter in the galaxy.
Boba Fett is so badass he couldn’t even be stopped by the Star Wars Christmas Special (1978). For real, the haphazardly animated nine-minute animated short featuring the introduction of Boba Fett is the only watchable part of the infamous Christmas special. In this short, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker fall victim to a sleeping virus and Chewbacca and the droids must team with a mysterious armored figure named Boba Fett to save the heroes.
Over the course of the stiffly animated feature, Fett fights a lizard dragon thing and is still a menacing presence despite the fact that he barley moves in this unbudgeted production. Now imagine, kids everywhere sending away for the Kenner figure and encountering Fett for the first time in the Christmas special. Even though the rest of the special is unwatchable, Fett’s animated debut must have been pure magic for Star Warsfans of a certain age. And that’s why we love Fett and his mystique, because his uniquely marketed pre-The Empire Strikes Back introduction into the Star Wars galaxy introduced the very idea of an Expanded Universe. Expect more Fett very soon, possibly in his own feature length film in the next few years.
Bossk, possibly the most fearsome looking bounty hunter to gather on the Executor in The Empire Strikes Back, has long been an iconic but minor adversary in the Star Wars saga. Like Fett, Bossk was a Kenner mail away action figure, which just adds to the aura of this Trandoshan villain. Bossk is so tough, he doesn't have time for footwear, and his arms and legs barely fit into his famous yellow space suit. You just know that Bossk ripped apart some poor pilot to score his flight gear, and the lizard-like bounty hunter really pops in the few seconds he is onscreen in Empire.
Played by British actor Alan Harris, Bossk also pops up in Return of the Jediand has appeared in many Expanded Universe tales. By the way, that Bossk’s famous space suit was a leftover costume used in the 1966 Doctor Who episode "The Tenth Planet Part 1" is pretty cool sci-fi synergy, huh?
To find our Bossk highlight, we look to the recent past and to the young adult Star Wars Rebels novel Ezra's Gambleby Ryder Windham (2014). Before this EU tale (which is part of the new Disney canon), Bossk was traditionally portrayed as an almost mindless, cannibalistic brute. While this has added to the infamous legend of Bossk, it didn’t leave room for character subtleties. Windham took care of all that by portraying the Trandoshan as a morally ambiguous hunter with a unique sense of honor.
In this recent prose Rebelsadventure, Bossk is depicted as a reluctant anti-hero with a conflicting sense of right and wrong. Bossk helps Ezra Bridger and is presented to fans in a heroic light for the first time. But in Empireand in other Expanded Universe fiction, Bossk is a flesh-hungry monstrosity who uses his personal ship, the Hound’s Tooth, to track his prey across the galaxy. So whether you like the new, more complex Bossk or the slavering, blood hungry scum of yesteryear, you've got to admit that with a few short seconds on screen and one garbled line that almost caused ‘ol Admiral Piett to poop his Imperial trousers (Res luk ra'auf!), Bossk has long captured the imagination of Star Wars fans.
Zuckuss and 4-LOM
Before we delve into our final pair of bounty hunters, let us play the name game. When Kenner produced its last two bounty hunter action figures in 1982, the toy company made a bit of a boo boo. Kenner used the Zuckuss name for a character that was clearly a droid and used an alpha-numeric droid designation for a character that was clearly an alien. Yes, according to Kenner, 4-LOM was an alien and Zuckuss was a droid, but history now tells us that Kenner done screwed up. In recent years, 4-LOM has been correctly identified as the bug eyed droid aboard Vader’s Star Destroyer in Empire, and Zuckuss has become the robed, bug eyed alien and all is right with the galaxy.
But this name confusion just adds to the mystery of these two strange beings. The two bounty hunters in question appear in the same shot together and thus, have always been associated with each other. So when the two made their first appearance in the Expanded Universe, they did it as partners, as the Lenny and Squiggy of the Star Wars universe, but with an intense blood thirst and lots of guns. Before we delve into our 4-LOM and Zuckuss highlight, let us mention that 4-LOM was played by actress Cathy Munroe while Zuckuss was played by Chris Parsons (who also played the white protocol droid that appeared on Hoth, K-3PO—because if we’re going to go SW obscure, we might as well take it all the way to the extreme).
Okay, of course our 4-LOM and Zuckuss tale comes from Tales of the Bounty Hunters because quite frankly, neither of these scums has made many Expanded Universe appearances. You would have thought that with their really awesome costumes 4-LOM and Zuckuss would have popped up in Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi, but nope, it was one and done for this pair of assassins.
In the Tales of the Bounty Hunters story, "Of Possible Futures: The Tale of Zuckuss and 4-LOM" by M. Shayne Bell, fans learn the complex histories of both of these blink and you’ll miss ‘em bounty hunters. 4-LOM and Zuckuss ambush a group of Rebels as the freedom fighters are attempting to escape Hoth during the first act of The Empire Strikes Back. The pair planned to sell the captives to Vader and the Empire.
During the mission, fans learn of the background of both bug-eyed bounty hunters. 4-LOM was once a simple protocol droid whose programming became compromised. At first, 4-LOM began stealing from passengers of a luxury liner he worked on and before long became proficient in all sorts of mayhem. Eventually, 4-LOM embarked on a career as a thief and a bounty hunter and became so infamous, that even IG-88 considered recruiting 4-LOM into the droid revolution but thought better of it because the former protocol droid’s personality was too unstable.
As for Zuckuss, this diminutive killer was a member of the Gand species, a group of insectoid aliens that breathed pneumonia and had to wear specially-made breathing apparatuses or suffocate in oxygen rich atmospheres. Gands also used special chemicals called the Mists to help them reach precognitive trance states. Whether Zuckuss really had mystical powers or just kind of got high and hunted people is unclear, but it was clear that this alien and droid made a formidable pair.
In Bell’s tale, Zuckuss and 4-LOM are also shown to have a sound moral compass as, after the bounty hunting duo capture the Rebels, they free them and help the fugitives escape the Empire. So there you have it, according to the now out of continuity Expanded Universe tale, two of our infamous bounty hunters in question possessed the heart of heroes even though they looked like things that crawled out of an H.R. Giger fever dream.
Most of these Expanded Universe tales are now expelled from the Star Wars canon, but the wonder that surrounds these six bounty hunters remains. As we move towards Rogue Oneand countless more Star Wars films, books, comics, and cartoons, you can be assured that these six characters that captured fans imaginations in about six seconds will continue to fascinate Star Wars fans of every age. Happy hunting.
In the '90s, Lucasfilm decided to take Star Wars in a much darker direction with Shadows of the Empire.
This article contains spoilers. But really, Shadows of the Empire has been out since 1996. I wouldn't worry too much.
Star Wars in the 90s
The ‘90s were the dark ages of Star Wars. George Lucas’ happy cinematic accident was still a beloved pop culture tentpole, and the entertainment industry was still busy learning from its business model. But it was also a time of relative quiet for the franchise. Another film with the main cast was implausible, and the excuses for new merchandising were slim to none. So Lucasfilm started brainstorming new ways to capitalize on the Star Wars brand and ensure all of its media channels were fully functional before the arrival of the Prequel Trilogy.
Enter Shadows of the Empire—a mad scientist’s experiment in cross-promotion that would make editors at Marvel weep at the complexity of its moving parts. This multimedia initiative was designed to tell one large narrative across various mediums, with each platform contributing an important piece of the story. To get the full Shadowsexperience, fans would have to read the novel and the comic books, play the video game, listen to the soundtrack score, buy the toys, collect the trading cards, etc.
When Shadows was conceived by Lucasfilm heads Howard Roffman and Lucy Wilson in 1994, it was intended to be set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. This era has always been a “safe zone” for expanded universe material to play around in. In fact, it’s still mined by Marvel and Disney for tie-in material to this day. Shadows would join the ranks of the classic Marvel comics with the giant talking rabbit (who was never considered canon, sadly enough) as an expanded universe story set during the actual trilogy itself.
After the pitch was tossed around the Lucas subsidiaries, a memo from LucasArts designer Jon Knoles changed their minds. He suggested setting the Shadows project after The Empire Strikes Back instead of before it, as this was a.) fertile ground for storytelling. and b.) way more intriguing. And he wasn’t wrong. This new setting made the task of telling a huge movie-like story a way to test the boundaries of the franchise before its inevitable rebirth for Episode I.
Post-Empire was a sweet spot for Star Wars to hit at the time. If you couldn’t already tell by its name, there was a push to make Shadows“dark”—which basically translated to “’90s as fuck.” This slick new edginess would keep Star Wars relevant in a time of geek culture dominated by the over-muscled caricatures of Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane and the low-tech barbarism of Mortal Kombat. Instead of behaving like it was still the early 1980s, it was time Star Wars hit puberty and toughened up some.
Even in today’s climate saturated with spin-offs, webisodes, and other ancillary materials, telling one big cohesive story across different media formats is still a highly experimental undertaking. There had to be a center to all the tales that would be told under this umbrella, an axis on which all peripheral events spun around. This anchor point was the bestselling Shadows novel published by Bantam in 1996.
Writing the Book
For all intents and purposes, Steve Perry’s Shadows of the Empire was to be considered “the movie.” It had what everyone was craving—a new adventure with the core characters the audience loved and the promise of mature themes and content.
Steve Perry was hand-selected to be in the Shadows talent pool by Bantam editor Tom Dupree as a payback for writing a quick and dirty novelization of The Mask for free. Perry’s background writing for Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, and Spiral Zone made him a shoo-in for the job. Designing the core narrative of an intricate brand opera would be a collaborative process best suited for a writer with a background in television. (That he’d written novelizations for Dark Horse’s Alien graphic novels might have also helped.)
Before long, Perry found himself writing down page after page of notes during a lengthy creative meeting with all creative stakeholders at Skywalker Ranch in the fall of 1994 to keep track of the many different needs every licensee had for the story. Each medium demanded their own set pieces, action scenes, and settings to be interesting. Perry would think up ways to sew these into the pockets of his overarching story.
Armed with his reams of notes, the author banged out a twenty-five page outline detailing all major action beats for the primary story arc with suggestions on how they could cross over. The outline was well-received, even if it came back with a ton of notes. But the cooks in the kitchen found it agreeable, and that was all that was needed to move the crazy Shadows train forward. Perry got to work at tackling the manuscript at the beginning of 1995, making his own version of a missing Star Wars movie from his home office in Oregon.
The storyline of Perry’s Shadows book follows the adventures of Luke, Leia, Lando, and Chewbacca in their efforts to locate their carbonite encased buddy Han Solo. Their quest takes them through the galaxy’s criminal underworld, where they meet gritty new ‘90s characters that either try to kill them or help them out. In the process, Luke becomes a badass, Darth Vader gets a new nemesis, Chewie gets a haircut, the droids get to drive the Millennium Falcon, and Princess Leia gets to be sexually objectified like crazy. Okay, that may be an oversimplification, but basically, Shadows is a story about Star Wars that’s not quite told like a Star Wars story—but it is an entertaining page-turner. Yet the risks Shadows takes are really just recycled moments from the Original Trilogy, a classic symptom of being a media tie-in novel.
However, the book did intrigue readers everywhere with certain storylines it juggled, like the attempted assassinations of Luke Skywalker, the details behind the “many Bothans” tragedy hinted at in Return of the Jedi, and the Empire’s dealings with the Black Sun crime syndicate. Reading about the hijinks of the Skywalker twins and friends during a mysterious era is always intriguing, and Perry did as much justice as he could to the voice of the characters.
If Shadows of the Empire has a main character, it’s probably Xizor himself. After all, this villainous character was being fleshed out long before any official creative meetings had been held. The Dark Prince was the mascot for the grimdarkness of Shadows and the underworld it would explore.
Based on the plot outline he turned in, Steve Perry received notes with very specific instructions from Bantam on how they wanted Xizor to behave, citing the Godfather films as a tonal guideline. Bantam wanted an evil clone of Aristotle Onassis, the infamous Greek tycoon that married Jackie Kennedy. They wanted a villain who was corrupt, crafty, and had enough hubris to take on the franchise’s most beloved big bad: Darth Vader himself.
When creating this major expanded universe villain from scratch, the creative team at Lucasfilm approached the task just like they would for any creature you’d see in a Star Wars film. Xizor’s design process fell somewhere in the middle of thoughtfully crafted and painstakingly conceived. Xizor was meant to have an “exotic” flavor to his appearance, which designers translated as looking vaguely Asian. Yet Prince Xizor was more than just a vehicle for bizarre cultural appropriation. He was the powerful leader of Black Sun, a criminal syndicate functioning on the Outer Rim.
His reptilian style inspired a new race of beings for the Star Wars universe: the Falleen, who lived on a planet called, ironically enough, Falleen. As a Falleen, Xizor could breathe underwater and secrete pheromones to manipulate the opposite sex, which were so strong that even our favorite tough cookie with the hair buns fell under his thrall. His olive skin tone also changed according to whatever mood he happened to be in. And that iconic claw pose of his? That was inspired by unused concept art of Bib Fortuna.
Meanwhile, Xizor’s seduction of Princess Leia—or, rather, the quasi-Asian lizard dude’s date rape of Star Wars’ headlining female character—was awkward. In this sequence, Xizor uses his pheromone powers to roofie Leia into submission after forcing her to wear a revealing outfit. Shadowswent beyond the humiliation of tricking Alderaanian royalty into wearing a kinky slave outfit for a giant slug. This was technically assault. When Perry received feedback on his story outline asking for Xizor and Leia to go all the way, he refused. He didn’t want to deal with the backlash from the fans, as such an event would incite the same emotional reaction as killing off a main character. So instead, Leia gets out of the situation by kneeing the Falleen studmuffin right in his iguana dick, then dashes off (pun intended).
Perry handled Prince Xizor’s character incredibly well considering all of the creative suggestions he received. He knew the Dark Prince wasn’t just a character, he was a test for each member of the Skywalker family. Xizor spent literally all of his time and energy obsessing over Luke, Anakin, and Leia, discovering their weak points and pressing their buttons. In this respect, Xizor is an embodiment the novel’s central theme: vulnerability. The vulnerability of the each member of the Skywalker family.
A new protagonist was also introduced—Dash Rendar, aka ‘90s Han Solo. Although Dash was conceived by Perry himself, that didn’t mean he had any more creative control over his character than he did with Xizor’s. Lucasfilm and Bantam both made it clear they didn’t want an exact carbon-copy of Kylo Ren’s dad to fill the void he left behind. They did, however, want a substitute space pirate to act as a guide through the wrong side of the interplanetary tracks.
Dash was the macho middle ground between Kevin Costner and Tom Cruise—a smuggling mercenary that traveled around the galaxy in his Outrider (aka ‘90s Millennium Falcon) with a droid named Leebo riding shotgun. He held a lifelong vendetta against the Emperor for ruining his family after his brother crashed his freighter ship into Palpatine's private spaceport museum. Rendar helped Rogue Squadron fend off the Empire’s forces during the Battle of Hoth. He even helped the “many Bothans” that died steal the new Death Star plans! Despite all of this, Luke still thought he was kind of an asshole. Hmm. Maybe that’s because the Force told him Dash was secretly made out of cardboard, old issues of Youngblood, and testosterone.
If Dash Rendar were to be described by one word only, it would be “functional.” He doesn’t serve a function for the Shadows narrative per se, but boy does he ever for the multimedia campaign. After all, Dash was the star of the video game component of Shadows of the Empire, which featured his participation in the Battle of Hoth. I wouldn’t say that Dash is a person, but more of a Frankenstein’s monster of pastiches culled from Star Wars and its imitators, stitched together with Harrison Ford’s casual cockiness. Basically, he was an endless library of “shit Han Solo says.”
The real fan favorite of Shadowsturned out to be a character that still doesn’t have a decently sized action figure to this day: Guri, Prince Xizor’s deadly fembot bodyguard. She was the only replica droid trained to be an assassin—a hybrid of Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct and Sean Young in Blade Runner. Compared to Princess Leia, Guri was a lightning rod for pent-up sexual tension in the Star Wars universe. In fact, Xizor took advantage of her more built-in “intimate” functions whenever he could, which only amplified the rapey nature of the crime lord.
Much like Han Solo’s sugar-free counterpart, Dash Rendar, Guri the sex assasin was a Steve Perry original. The femme fatale was conceived as a character who would be loyal to the paranoid Falleen leader, someone he could trust. Since Xizor could never trust another living being with his life, he bought a synthetic humanoid for nine million credits to be his lieutenant, enforcer, and information gatherer. Basically, she was like having a ninja as your personal assistant, which further reinforced the vaguely Asian motif surrounding the Dark Prince. But it was strongly suggested that he used her to run everything, and probably couldn’t handle the weight of his responsibilities on his own.
Luke & Leia
Core characters were subject to redesign as well, specifically their wardrobe. Lucasfilm wanted to visually convey to the audience that their heroes were in between two very distinct eras (Empire and Jedi.) While Chewie and Leia got “extreme” disguises to play dress-up in, Luke Skywalker’s wardrobe was meticulously reconceptualized.
Lucasfilm’s Lucy Wilson would send notes to Dark Horse’s cover artist Drew Fleming on the Jedi knight’s garb, asking him to “please dress [Luke] in the same black outfit he shows up in in RotJ…the same black long-sleeved top, pants, and boots…but make his tunic a khaki color and give him a utility belt with various tools/etc. hanging off of it…”
But playing with Luke’s fashion choices wasn’t the only way that Shadows of the Empire illustrated that Luke was in a transitionary phase. Jon Knoles wanted the the overarching narrative of the project to tie up a loose end that had been bugging him since the early ‘80s—where did Luke get his new green lightsaber?
Thus another plotline to juggle was born, one of Shadows’ most interesting: Luke’s quest to build his fancy new weapon. Watching young Skywalker learn how to build his own based on Obi-Wan’s instructions was fascinating for aspiring Jedi everywhere to read, but there isn’t as much symbolic weight behind this act as there could have been in a film made by Lucas. At least it was treated as a pivotal step on the protagonist’s figurative journey to becoming a Jedi Knight and not just another macguffin to scratch off the list. (Or was it?)
What’s frustrating about this sidequest is that it takes the place of a solid character arc for Luke, which is a shame. Dealing with the fallout from Vader’s reveal at the end of Empire would make Anakin Jr. the most captivating character in the dramatis personae. But no, learning his father’s secret doesn’t seem to affect Luke’s inner world much at all. Why wouldn’t we want to know what our hero’s state of mind was during this mysterious stretch of time?
If Shadows didn’t give us insight into its most pivotal character, it did give us a glimpse at Leia’s emotional landscape following the loss of Han. The first loss of Han, rather. If anyone was at their “most vulnerable” here, it would be the Princess—someone who fears showing weakness. SotE’s journey into the seedy Star Wars underworld caused all of her issues to rise to the surface, making Leia the heart of Perry’s book.
Despite the third-person take on her inner-monologue, Leia was treated as a character best handled from a distance. When she’s not being objectified, harassed, or protected from objectification and harassment by Chewie and Lando, she’s busy pulling up her sleeves and getting to the nitty gritty of propelling the novel’s major plotlines. As such, Princess Leia comes across as the Skywalker that’s the real hero here.
The only real worthy piece of continuity from her storyline was how she got the Boushh disguise she wears in Jedi, a detail that most fans probably never wondered or cared about.
The attempted Han Solo rescue, which is the driving force early on in the story, obviously turns out to be the MacGuffin that leads the Skywalkers and their friends on other adventures. The video game tackles the earliest part of this mission, when Dash tracks down the bounty hunters who were originally tasked with capturing Han. Fighting his way through the planets Ord Mantell and Gall, Dash finally locates Fett and his prized slab of carbonite. Leia, Lando, Luke, and the Rebellion launch a rescue mission that sparks the Battle of Gall. It fails and Fett gets away again.
Fett’s struggle to get the frozen Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine is the major subject of the Shadows comic. On his way to the desert planet he is attacked both by the Rebels and rival bounty hunters Bossk and Zuckuss. Ironically, he even has to hide out in an asteroid field at one point to fight off his assailants. Ultimately, Fett proves why he’s the greatest bounty hunter in the galaxy, outsmarting his pursuers and getting the payday.
Things get more intricate from here. Prince Xizor, who vows to avenge his family after they’re killed by Darth Vader before the events of the book, plans to destroy Vader by killing his son and replacing him as the Emperor’s right hand. Xizor tries to have Luke assassinated several times in Shadows, only to be thwarted at the last minute every time by Rebels or Vader’s own bounty hunters. Vader, on the other hand, is still trying to find Luke and turn him to the Dark Side, which brings him in direct contact with the leader of Black Sun. The only reason Vader can’t Force choke Xizor out of an exhaust port is because the Emperor needs the crime lord to finish the construction of the second Death Star.
Which brings us to the mission to steal the Death Star plans. Dash and Luke are informed by Bothan spies that the plans are being transported in a fertilizer freighter called the Suprosa. The Rebels launch an intercept mission. You can actually play through this mission as Dash in the Shadows video game.
After some maneuvering, Xizor has Luke captured on the planet Kothlis, where the plans are being decoded by the Bothans. Luke manages to escape Kothlis with a little help from the Force, Lando, and Dash. Vader, who arrives on Kothlis too late to pick up Luke, is informed by his bounty hunters that there’s a rival group of bounty hunters trying to kill young Skywalker.
Meanwhile, Leia is kidnapped by Xizor, who tries to seduce the Princess in his palace on Coruscant. Shadows of the Empire is in fact bookended by rescue missions, as Luke and his friends infiltrate the Imperial capital to save Leia from the evil crime lord. The story climaxes in spectacular fashion in a space battle above the city planet between the Rebels and the Empire, as Xizor attempts to escape but is stopped by Vader, who shows absolutely no mercy.
Shadows of the Empire ends right before Return of the Jedi begins: Luke, Leia, and friends prepare to go on a daring rescue mission to save Han Solo from the clutches of the dastardly Jabba the Hutt, their latest adventure ultimately only a detour.
Dark Horse gave Steve Perry a shot at telling a follow-up story in 1998 with the Shadows of the Empire: Evolution miniseries. Without so many requirements and stipulations from different Lucasfilm branches, Perry was given the freedom to tell a snappy, focused, personal story about Guri. The underappreciated badass got her time to shine in the Star Warslimelight, and although there may be too many panels (and pages) devoted to her posing around suggestively, the story did give her character a sense of resolution. As far as Perry was concerned, Guri was the only loose end from Shadows that needed to be dealt with (or the only one he felt the most inspired to tackle, anyway.)
What’s interesting about Evolutionsis that much like Shadows itself, it’s built around the absence of a pivotal character. It’s Prince Xizor, this time. His spirit still permeates throughout Ron Randall’s gorgeous panel art, much like Han Solo’s did in the Shadows adaptation. In fact, Evolutions is loaded with so many references to Xizor that you expect him to show up during its final moments. But no, in the true spirit of Shadows of the Empire, this turns out to be one big tease.
Instead, we get a highly convenient Dash Rendar cameo at the very end. Guri runs into him at a bar after she gets reprogrammed and loses her memories. Diet-Han looks alive and well to me, so the end of the N64 game was definitely canon (Rendar fakes his death during the space battle above Coruscant). But the romantic overtones of their chance encounter suggest that the two run off into the sunset together, which is a patronizing fate to give a character whose indepence you just spent five issues celebrating, is it not?
Because Episodes I-III tainted Star Wars for a good long while, Shadows of the Empire became an instant obscurity. After all, it was an outdated snapshot of a dormant brand waking up after a long nap to get back to work. Maybe bored gamers may have dusted off their N64 cartridges on lonely Saturday afternoons to play through the Battle of Hoth again in the early 2000s. But that was the only way anyone interacted with this brand experiment again.
Filling a movie-sized hole in the public’s imagination without a movie was a great opportunity to begin the process of redefining Star Wars. Yet even after taking in all Shadows related materials (not including the Sourcebook, sorry folks), I don’t feel as satisfied as I do when I actually see a Star Wars film—even when it’s a bad one. There’s an aura of incompleteness that haunts Shadows, that attitude of “hey kids, you need to read x to understand y” that I found so distracting. Even Perry’s novel, the supposed focal point, suffers from the inclusion of characters like Dash who are obviously shoehorned in for other purposes that are counterproductive to telling an already crowded story.
For a book that was advertised as being so dark, Perry’s Shadows shied away from going too deep into Luke’s psychological scars from the events at the end of Empire. That’s it’s biggest problem: for a “personal” story, Shadows is impersonal, prioritizing shallow action over emotional complexity. In fact, there’s more “darkness” in Empire’s surreal Dagobah cave scene than there is in 300 pages of Shadow’s novel and ten hours of its video game combined.
What Shadows most prepared fans for in terms of Star Wars’ future was the business side of the galaxy far, far away, introduced through Black Sun’s shady dealings with the Empire. While I was reading these scenes, I couldn’t help but flashback to countless scenes of council meetings to discuss tariffs or something. Granted, Shadows’ meetings between Xizor, Vader, and the Emperor were far more engaging, but the signs were there.
The Shadows initiative garnered enough success that it later served as real time inspiration for the Clone Wars marketing campaign in the early oughts. The concept of telling a movie-sized story in the negative space between film installments was ahead of its time, and couldn’t be pulled off in a pre-gaming era. Which is why the mid-90s (a literal negative space for Star Wars) was the perfect time to pull off a crazy stunt like this.
As a whole, the Shadowsexperiment may have added an extra slimy texture to Star Warsthat hadn’t been there before. Exploring the darker corners of its universe through various media formats defined its nebulous gray area in ways the older films couldn’t. This was the most important lesson Lucasfilm learned from Shadows of the Empire, as it helped change Star Wars from a lost movie franchise into the rich multimedia brand experience it is today.
Believe it or not, Stephen Harber is actually Supreme Leader Snoke. Follow him on Twitter at @onlywriterever or visit his website for updates on more Ewoks movies that will never happen.
Alfonso Cuaron's Prisoner of Azkaban was a landmark achievement not only for the Harry Potter franchise, but for contemporary cinema.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was released in U.K. theaters 13 years ago today and we're taking the time to talk about how this film not only changed the Harry Potter film franchise, but helped shape the next decade of young adult film franchises for the better.
Before Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron came on board the Harry Potter franchise to direct the third film, the series was very much a straight-forward, by-the-book adaptation of J.K. Rowling's bestselling series, more or less in line with other film adaptations of children's books. This makes sense, given that American director Chris Columbus had made many of the most iconic family movies of the last few decades, including Home Alone, Adventures in Babysitting, andMrs. Doubtfire.
Cuaron's entrance into the Harry Potter franchise would set the tone for a more complex adaptation of children's books heading into a prolific time for adaptations of young adult book series in particular (partially inspired by Harry Potter's success). Cuaron didn't just change the Harry Potter franchise with his direction of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He changed the status quo for all book-to-film adaptations aimed at young people, making the next decade in blockbuster cinema a much more interesting place.
Let's take a look at what set Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban apart...
Azkaban is dark, emotionally-rich, and tonally-nuanced.
For most people who have either watched the films or read the books, Prisoner of Azkaban marks the beginning of a turning point for the series. While it still keeps the relatively short, more cohesive adventure story format of the first two books/films, it begins to add in a darkness and narrative complexity that is not as present in the earlier, more straightforward Harry Potter installments.
In Prisoner of Azkaban, Rowling begins to expand this world by giving us the story of the Marauders, Peter Pettigrew's betrayal, and Sirius Black's tragic life story as a result of that betrayal. It plays with the concept of time — both in the form of Hermione's Time-Turner and in an exploration of the previous generation's influence on today's youth — in complex ways.
We meet the dementors and learn about Azkaban for the first time. We start to more fully explore the legacy of James and Lily Potters' murders not simply as a tragedy for Harry, but as a tragedy for these people who had complex lives of their owns. Their deaths not only affected their baby son, but the countless others who loved them.
For the first time in the series, Rowling isn't afraid to widen the focus from Harry's own life and perspective to a more comprehensive one, based around the other Mauraders. This change in both scope and tone is reflected in Cuaron's directorial choices. He visibly darkens the movie, while also taking the time to indulge in the emotion of Harry, Sirius, and the countless other characters in this film in a way The Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets did not.
Cuaron didn't simply darken the world of Harry Potter with Prisoner of Azkaban, of course. He played with a variety of tones, infusing wonder, curiosity, humor, and teenage angst into the formula. That last one is particularly important, as it would go on to play a much larger role in the franchise moving forward.
Given the nature of these characters being a bit older than in the first two films, it's understandable that Columbus wasn't able to tease these same notes out in The Sorceror's Stone or Chamber of Secrets, but Cuaron's general interest in the rich, inner lives of Harry, Ron, and Hermione is a vast improvement on their earlier characterizations.
Cuaron gives both these characters and the movie's young audience more credit, asking more of his viewers than Columbus ever did. This is a skill Cuaron also demonstrated in his excellent adaptation of A Little Princess almost a decade prior, and one that would be infused into the best young adult film franchises moving forward.
Azkaban isn't afraid to change the source material.
As much as I hate that Cuaron left out much of the Marauder's backstory in his retelling of Prisoner of Azkaban, overall, his comfort with making changes to Rowling's source material in the interest of pacing, continuity, and the respective strengths and weaknesses of film vs. the novel, were a huge turning point for the Harry Potter franchise that would go on to affect other Harry Potter installments, most notably, Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Cuaron described this challenge to IGN, saying:
I had to be very respectful to the source material, but also to the two previous films. But, at the same time, I was trying to make something that I could feel my own.
Though even the least faithful of Harry Potter films are still pretty darn faithful, both Prisoner of Azkaban and Deathly Hallows: Part 1 aren't afraid to add elements, in addition to taking out details in the interest of time. In Prisoner of Azkaban, Cuaron adds the Shrunken Heads onto the Knight Bus. Though this addition is pretty random and not entirely successful, Cuaron's commitment to making the movie his own is echoed in later franchise decisions, such as the addition of one of the most perfect scenes in the entire series: Hermione and Harry dancing in Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
When it comes to film adaptations of popular books, changing the source material isn't always a good thing, but I think writers and directors should be willing to take more chances, given the differences in the storytelling forms and, often, the emphasis on first-person perspective in the young adult form. The decision to add in scenes or elements not originally in the books is especially bold and worthwhile, I find, when it is combined with an indulgence in tone or emotion, another aforementioned strength of Cuaron's direction.
In the Harry Potter franchise, Hermione and Harry's dance scene is one of the most emotionally affecting moments in the entire series, and one that never happened in the book. This was also the case for some of the best moments of the Hunger Games film franchise, which was able to expand its point-of-view past Katniss' first person accounts for some of the most powerful moments in the movies: e.g. District 11's reaction to Rue's death in The Hunger Games or the "Hanging Tree" montage in Mockingjay: Part 1.
Azkaban makes Hogwarts feel lived in.
More than either of the films that came before it, Cuaron's Prisoner of Azkaban demonstrated a visual cohesiveness that made the world of Harry Potter come to life after the flat, theme park-like tone of the first two films. Using bleak tones, rich cinematography, and recurring visual motifs, Cuaron created a Hogwarts that felt lived in.
As viewers, we spend more time casually in classes and in the dorms than in earlier installments, capturing the day-to-day routine of the book better than arguably any of the other films, often thanks to Cuaron's signature long, fluid, sometimes handheld shots (a great example of this is this long shot in Cuaron's excellent Children of Men). In large part due to Cuaron's talent as a director, Prisoner of Azkaban never felt like a checklist or a race from plot point to plot point, but rather a peek into an existing world that was there before we joined it and will be there long after we've left.
It set the stage for the films that would come after.
Though Prisoner of Azkaban would be the only Harry Potter film Cuaron would direct, he left an inedlible mark on the franchise moving forward. David Yates and Mike Newell would bring their own directorial quirks to this world, but it was Chris Columbus who drew the outlines of this fictional on-screen universe, and it was Alfonso Cuaron who gave them the detail and nuance that really made it come to life on film.
It's hard to imagine what the Harry Potter franchise would have looked like moving forward if not for Cuaron's weird, wonderful, and visually-elaborate influence on the competent, but ultimately straight-forward and somewhat magic-less world that Columbus created with the first two films. Cuaron, a master of jumping genres and target demographics with his films, never panders to his younger audience, instead creating not just the best film of the Harry Potter franchise, but a young adult genre classic that set the bar for every similar franchise that has followed.
The Wonder Woman movie is here, and that's just the beginning of the DCEU goodness awaiting us, from Justice League to Batman and more!
With Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad now in the books, the DC Extended Universe is in full swing. The Wonder Woman movie is nearly here, and it's all leading up to the Justice League movie in November of 2017.
So, it's time to take a look at all of the DC superhero movies that will be released over the next few years. And trust us, there are a ton of them on the way, and we expect more details will be announced as we go forward.
We have all the release dates for every one of 'em right here, as well as official details, the most interesting rumors, and suggestions for further reading where appropriate.
Click the blue links to go to articles containing everything you need to know about the movies!
Here's how this works, because the schedule is getting a little weird. We're starting with the dates that we know Warner Bros. has reserved specifically for DC superhero movies. You'll find that in some cases, there isn't officially a project attached to that date yet. Then we'll get into the stuff that we know for 100% certain is in development, but that don't have release dates. Then we'll get into some of the long shots at the bottom.
Here's an excerpt from our review:
Wonder Woman takes a page from, dare we say it, the Marvel Cinematic Universe playbook by telling a mostly straightforward origin story. While it is somewhat predictable in its basic structure, the movie also provides the kind of satisfying narrative and character arc missing from its predecessors. And for possibly the first time since the DCEU officially started with 2013’s Man of Steel, the movie features a lead character who unambiguously embraces the call instead of refusing it with aspects of that character’s own personality and history creating more organic conflicts later on. There is also genuine warmth in the relationships that the movie sets up, creating the kind of empathy that was sorely missing from the more nihilistic BvS and Suicide Squad.
Zack Snyder will direct Justice League, and BvS co-writer Chris Terrio is back. The villain of this one is Steppenwolf, one of Darkseid's relatives, and it focuses on Batman building a team to confront him.
Here's the official synopsis:
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
This one will also introduce Aquaman's Queen Mera (played by Amber Heard), which would make sense considering that the Aquamanmovie will follow the next fall.
At this point, there's zero chance this makes that March release date. After losing two directors/writers in Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) wrote a screenplay, and Rick Famuyiwa (Dope) this one needs some work, and potential directors now include Matthew Vaughn and Robert Zemeckis. The latest is that it's being completely rewritten by Joby Harold.
Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Madame Bovary) is playing Barry Allen, but probably a very different Barry Allen than the one we currently love on TV. Billy Crudup will play Dr. Henry Allen, with Kiersey Clemons as Iris West. Ray Fisher (Cyborg in Batman v Superman and Justice League) will also appear.
Now, about that release date change...there's now an empty space in July that Warner had previously reserved for a different DC superhero movie...
July 27th, 2018 - Unknown
This was formerly the date occupied by the Aquaman movie, but that was bumped to October, and then December. At one point we thought this could end up being the debut of Ben Affleck's Batmansolo movie but that film has just hit its own production problems, with Mr. Affleck bowing out as director, Matt Reeves coming on board, and a complete rewrite of the script looming.
Maybe The Flash, which is likely about to hit some production delays will just get a few months of breathing room? Or will Warner Bros. just use this for something else entirely that has nothing to do with superheroes? That seems like the most likely scenario, and I doubt we'll see The Batman before 2019. We'll probably find out very soon.
Jason Momoa is playing Aquaman. There's no doubt that they've been taking Aquaman very seriously. Amber Heard will also appear as Queen Mera. Patrick Wilson is Ocean Master and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is Black Manta.
James Wan (Furious 7) will direct from a script by Kurt Johnstad (300: Rise of an Empire).
April 5th, 2019 - Shazam
Shazamhas both a writer (Henry Gayden, of Earth to Echo fame) and a star (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the villainous Black Adam) announced. If we end up getting to see Henry Cavill's Superman fight Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam some day, it's tough to imagine anyone would complain. Lights Out director David F. Sandberg is in the mix to direct this one, but hasn't been confirmed yet.
But like other projects on this calendar, this doesn't seem to be on the fast track, and with a recently announced Black Adam solo movie with Dwayne Johnson now in development (more on that in a bit), it's not clear what that means for the immediate future of Shazam. The fact that Dwayne Johnson is just about the busiest man in Hollywood doesn't help, either.
June 14th, 2019 - Unknown
This was long ago announced as the Justice League 2 release date, but this is apparently about to change. Director Zack Snyder would like to take on another project, and there are recent indications that Warner Bros is prioritizing the Batmansolo movie over this, and that this could end up being that film's date instead.
It's also possible that this could end up being David Ayer's Gotham City Sirens movie as part of a four movie 80th anniversary Batman celebration, and we have more on that down below.
November 1st, 2019 - Untitled DC Film
No information has yet been given as to the story or what characters will be featured in the film. Man of Steel 2is back in active development at the studio. Could this be it? It's yet another potential landing date for Ben Affleck's Batman solo movie, too. In fact, given that movie's ongoing troubles, this is probably its most likely arrival date.
November is a safer month for high profile releases than October, and this could be where the now-rescheduled Justice League 2 ends up, although we suspect it will be a bit longer than that.
The truth is that we just don't know what DC has planned for Nov. 2019, so we'll just have to wait and see.
April 3rd, 2020 - Cyborg
And this one is the biggest surprise of them all. Ray Fisher made his first (very brief) appearance as Vic Stone/Cyborg in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and will clearly have a crucial role to play in both Justice League films if they're grooming him for a solo film. He's going to feature in The Flash solo movie, too.
No other details are presently available, and there are also rumors that this one might be reworked into a movie that would introduce the Teen Titans to the big screen.
Fairly or unfairly, Green Lantern has the most working against him. The 2011 film failed to kickstart the DC Universe as planned, and received a lukewarm (at best) critical and box-office reception. There are, of course, ways around this.
One way is to simply not make Hal Jordan the central Green Lantern of the movie. It was revealed at SDCC 2015 that the Green Lantern movie is now called Green Lantern Corps, and this one may focus on as many as three Green Lanterns, likely with John Stewart as the main Green Lantern of Sector 2814. David Goyer and Justin Rhodes are writing the script, but there's no director in place yet. There's a slim chance that Goyer could end up directing, though.
We've heard bits and pieces indicating that Green Lantern won't even show up until the end of Justice League, or possibly even Justice League 2. By the time 2020 rolls around, a decade will have passed, and by then the character won't be considered so radioactive by studio execs.
Now, let's get into the projects that are in the works, but don't have release dates yet. We've grouped these roughly in the order we expect to see them based on how far along they are.
Gotham City Sirens
Harley Quinn isn't just for the Suicide Squad. Warner Bros. has tapped David Ayer to direct Gotham City Sirens, which will team Harley Quinn up with other female DC villain, most likely including Poison Ivy and Catwoman. It's not totally clear if this is replacing a Harley Quinn solo movie, which we have a few details on here.
This one is on the fast-track, so it could take over that June 14th, 2019 release date vacated by Justice League 2. There are really thin rumors that Warner Bros. wants to release four Batman themed movies in 2019: Gotham City Sirens, Nightwing, Batgirl, and that Batman solo movie they keep promising us. I wouldn't put too much stock in that just yet.
But let's talk about two of those other Bat-themed movies for a moment...
The Lego Batman movie director Chris McKay has been tapped to direct a Nightwing movie. Bill Dubuque (The Accountant) is working on a script. No other details are currently available, and this one doesn't have a release date yet, although there are rumors of a 2019 window. We wrote more about it here.
Joss Whedon will write, direct, and produce a Batgirl movie, one that is reportedly based on Gail Simone's recent New 52 take on the character. We have some more details here, but there's no casting or release date to report yet. This is another one where there are rumors of 2019 in the wind, but don't put any stock in that yet.
While the critical response to the first film wasn't so hot, the box office was blazing, so Suicide Squad 2 is definitely happening. David Ayer going to be too busy with Gotham City Sirens until further notice, though, and possible directors include Mel Gibson, Danny Espinosa, and Jonathan Levine. Adam Cozad, who wrote The Legend of Tarzan, is working on a script.
Justice League 2
Don't be fooled by the fact that this lost its 2019 release date, Warner Bros. is still planning a second installment, since the first one is bound to make all kinds of bank. Things will stay quiet on this for a few more months.
Shazam doesn't have a director or a star to play its title character yet, but it sure does have a villain. And that villain, who will be played by Dwayne Johnson, is certainly strong enough to sustain his own movie. There's no release date set for the Black Adammovie, and this is the kind of thing that could work as a nifty prequel to set up the mystical world of Shazam if they choose to go that route. We're currently on the lookout for more info.
Booster Gold (and maybe Blue Beetle)
Flash and Arrow executive producer Greg Berlanti is going to executive produce and possibly direct a Booster Gold movie. Zack Stentz (Thor, X-Men: First Class, a recent episode of CW's The Flash TV series) will write the script.
Early reports described this as a "superhero buddy cop movie" that would involve Blue Beetle. We'll get you more updates on this as they become available.
And now for the long shots...projects mentioned, rumored, or that haven't had any movement in a while.
Warner Bros. knows they have one of the biggest stars in the world already in costume, so they're reportedly considering a Deadshotsolo movie, as well.
Back on the schedule after years of being dormant, the Lobo movie may attempt to be the DCEU equivalent of Deadpool. Jason Fuchs must have impressed Warner Bros. with his work on Wonder Woman, because he's on board to write the script for this one.
We'll update this with more information as we get it, but it should be a fun ride.
Sandmanisn't a superhero movie, so the fact that he wasn't involved in an announcement that primarily focused on high-profile franchises (along with the superhero slate, Warner Bros. focused on Lego movies and Harry Potter spinoffs). It isn't a DC Universe movie that will have any bearing on future Justice League films. But it is one of the most successful, enduring comics of all time.
The latest news on this isn't encouraging, though. It appears to be a dead project.
Dark Universe might be more familiar to comic book fans under its comic name, Justice League Dark. This one will feature the supernatural characters from the DC Universe. Characters like Swamp Thing, Demon, Deadman, Zatanna, and possibly even John Constantine.
Guillermo del Toro was attached to this one for quite some time, but had to leave the project. Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) will now direct.
Legion of Super-Heroes
This one came as a big surprise when the rumor surfaced a couple of years ago. The word is that Warner Bros., perhaps inspired by the runaway success of Guardians of the Galaxy, is looking to put together their own superheroic space opera. Nobody has been hired. Warner Bros. have simply placed this one on the table as a DC property potentially worth developing, and are inviting writers to make pitches.
Perhaps the longest of the long-shots, the Metal Men movie is something that's been in discussion as far back as 2007. It's the most bizarre concept of the bunch, involving a mad scientist and his group of sentient elemental robots, but like Suicide Squadand Legion of Super-Heroes, perhaps that uniqueness is what makes this one so appealing. Warner Bros. can't be seen to copy the Marvel model too closely, so veering away from solo outings for traditional heroes and into this kind of territory might be the very best thing they can do for the brand.
The Metal Men recently received a New 52 facelift at the hands of writer Geoff Johns, the co-chair of DC Films. If they're a favorite of DC Entertainment's Chief Creative Officer, it would be wrong to count the Metal Men out, even if there's been no public movement on this project in recent memory.
We'll keep updating this with new information as we get it!
Cinemax cancels its dark crime drama Quarry and co-creator Michael D. Fuller provides post-mortem thoughts.
Quarry viewers just received some long-awaited news and it is not good. After several months of speculation, Cinemax has decided to cancel its monumentally morose, pathos-driven crime drama after just one season.
The announcement of Quarry’s cancellation was confirmed today by Michael D. Fuller, who co-created the series with Graham Gordy. The move gives closure to fans of the series after its fate was left hanging in the balance after the September-October 2016 run of its 8-episode inaugural (now only) season had concluded. According to Fuller, despite solid ratings and reception, Quarry has become a casualty of “several factors,” notably the increasingly used explanation of a network looking to “re-brand” its dramatic lineup.
Quarry, adapting the prolific 1976-present novel series of the same name by Max Allan Collins, is set in 1972 and stars Logan Marshall Green as Mac Conway, a Marine sniper Vietnam War vet. After a rough transition to civilian life upon returning home to Memphis, Mac finds himself thrust into the orbit of a clandestine “Dixie Mafia,” who wish to use his talents for wetwork that’s locally sourced. Interlaced with war flashbacks, the series is a dark character showcase of an already-tortured man’s painful arc leading into the world of contract killing. The series also co-stars Jodi Balfour, Peter Mullan, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Damon Herriman.
In his confirmation of Cinemax’s cancellation of Quarry, co-creator Fuller, clearly in mourning for his passion project, laments on his blog how a half-decade-long process ultimately amounted to so very little, stating:
“My writing partner on the project (and one of my best friends of nearly 20 years) Graham Gordy and I first came across Max Allan Collins’ Quarry novels in December of 2011. We then worked on Season 1 of Rectify and spent the rest of 2012 developing Quarry w/ Anonymous Content writing the pilot and the series bible. We sold the show to Cinemax in the spring of 2013, shot the original pilot in the summer of 2013, received the series greenlight in summer of 2014, went into production in the spring of 2015 and aired in the fall of 2016. Half-a-decade for what ultimately amounted to one season of television that I am immensely proud of personally and professionally.”
Indeed, the cancellation leaves a Quarry quandary for the viewers who tuned into the series and expected to learn about the fate of Mac, who was last seen in possession of a mysterious toiletry bag, stripping down and swimming across the mighty Mississippi River. Regarding the unrealized Quarry Season 2 and Cinemax’s unfortunate intervention, Fuller states:
"Season 2 was going to be set in 1973 and see Mac fully immersed in The Broker’s network, the arrival of Mac and Arthur’s war buddy Hall Prewitt and the trouble coming w/ him, Buddy asserting his individuality, all w/ the specter of Watergate looming. We actually wrote the entire second season, 6 episodes, before receiving word that Cinemax was going in a different direction w/ their branding and content. Since we didn’t get a Season 2, let’s just speculate as to if Mac actually made it to the other side of the river.) It’s a sadness I will carry w/ me for the rest of my life, but there’s a tremendous measure of solace in the fact that I had the opportunity to work w/ some of the most immeasurably talented people in the world on something we all believed in and deeply, abidingly cared about. A Memphis-BBQ-platter sized thanks is due to our wonderful cast and crew who made our writing better than it had any business being, and to Max Allan Collins himself, who trusted us w/ a character he’s lived w/ for 40 years: thank you, sir. I hope we didn’t mess it up too badly.”
Thus, Quarry will have to stand as an 8-episode curiosity that posterity might be able to enjoy via streaming outlets. Of course, Max Allan Collins’s Quarry novel series shows no signs of losing steam, with the 14th novel, appropriately titled Quarry’s Climax, set to hit shelves this October. Indeed, the television series, in its brief life, can at least be seen as a live-action gateway for fans into that deep, decades-spanning literary mythology.
We will get more details about the mysterious project tomorrow at BookExpo's Marvel panel.
Keep you ears to the ground tomorrow. Fan-friendly YA author Rainbow Rowell (Fangirl, Carry On, Eleanor & Park) sent out a mysterious tweet today revealing she will be writing something for Marvel and that the details will be revealed tomorrow at BookExpo.
— Rainbow Rowell (@rainbowrowell) May 31, 2017
This only moments after Marvel itself anounced the news that Rowell would be joining the team.
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) May 31, 2017
What might Rowell be working on? It's unclear as of right now, but we will keep you updated. The panel she's appearing at tomorrow is called "Marvel: From Prose to Panels" and is taking place at noon on the Uptown Stage.
Whatever it is Rowell might be penning, this is good news. Rowell has proven herself a moving storyteller who knows how to work within and in response to already-established works. Her YA novel Fangirl, about a college girl who writes fanfiction about a popular set of wizarding books, is a meta, multi-level story that proves it understands fandom culture better than most mainstream stuff out there.
Carry On, the sequel-of-sorts-but-not-really to Fangirl is set in the fandom world Rowell created for Fangirl. It's a loving, yet challenging response to the Harry Potter story and "Chosen One" stories in general that stands on its own. (It's also one of the 7 Harry Potter Spin-Off Movies We'd Like To See.)
This won't be the first time Rowell has ventured into the comic book world. Back in 2014, it was announced that she would be collaborating with cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks on a graphic novel for First Second. The title has not yet been released, but this kind of lead time is not uncommon for the graphic novel publisher.
We'll keep you updated on Rowell's Marvel project. In the mean time, get excited about this news.