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    We have your exclusive preview of Batman & Zatanna's new team up!

    NewsJim Dandy
    Jun 26, 2017

    Detective Comics was a pleasant surprise when Rebirth kicked off, and has settled into a solid groove as an excellent Batman-universe tale. Tynion routinely hits great character beats for every member of the expansive cast - just last issue, he had a moment between Clayface and Orphan that was genuinely emotional and great to read. And, of course, literally everyone loves Zatanna, so to use her to follow up on "The Button" (also outstanding) should be a lot of fun. 

    DC sent along an exclusive first look at Detective Comics #959, the next part of Zatanna's guest appearance.

    Here's what they have to say about the issue:

    DETECTIVE COMICS #959 Written by JAMES TYNION IV • Art by ALVARO MARTINEZ and RAUL FERNANDEZ • Cover by YASMINE PUTRI Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.“Intelligence” part two! While his team comes to grips with Azrael’s past, Batman is on the trail of the shocking secret he learned at the end of last month's epic BATMAN/FLASH crossover, “The Button”—and it's brought him directly to the Mistress of Magic, Zatanna!

    Check it out down here:

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    What if Superman was raised in Russia? That's the starting point for the acclaimed Superman: Red Son. And a movie version may be happening.

    News Simon BrewRyan Lambie
    Jun 27, 2017

    This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

    PLEASE NOTE:  Den Of Geek UK has now confirmed with very, very, very reliable sources that this is not an animated movie that Warner Bros is looking into, but a live action one.

    Here's the story...

    Red Son, just to set the scene, was a Superman comic book penned by Mark Millar, that posited what would have happened were Superman to have been raised in the Soviet Union. It was published back in 2003, and was widely acclaimed. We've no intention of spilling the full plot of it here, just to reiterate it's very, very worth seeking out.

    That said, it’s not something that Warner Bros has been interested in making a movie out of (at least, there's been no public word as such). At least, it seems, until now.

    The aforementioned exchange saw the brilliantly-bearded Kong: Skull Island director, Jordan Vogt-Roberts, reveal in his Twitter feed that he’d pitched a Red Son movie to Warner Bros “months ago,” arguing that “it’s the most punk rock thing the DCEU could do in my mind."

    It all started with this Tweet...

    From there, these happened - and look what Vogt-Roberts then dropped into the conversation...

    Millar, in response to that Tweet, wrote...

    Millar hasn’t been involved in the process (and when we chatted with him for the update at the bottom of the article, we got no sense at all that it's a project he's in any way interested in, not least given his extensive slate of other work), and his post was a response to Vogt-Roberts' Tweet.

    The idea for a film is coming from Warner Bros itself. 

    It does suggest that Warner Bros is genuinely starting to spread its wings with the DC Extended Universe however, if it’s looking beyond fairly conventional Superman tales. It’s very, very early days, and it may all come to nothing. But an hour before I wrote this story, the idea that Warner Bros would even be considering a Red Son movie would be a very long shot. Now, it seems that it’s actively chatting to directors about it.

    FURTHER UPDATE: Den of Geek UK asked Mark Millar about the project, and have now heard back from him. We asked him if this was something definitely happening. "Is this something they're genuinely planning? I have no idea", he told us. "I've got pals at Warner Bros but never discussed it with them. I think they're just going through their back catalogue of big books and hoping to lure in good directors as opposed to any particular interest in developing Red Son." 

    Read Superman: Red Son on Amazon

    "There's always 50 conversations for every comic book movie that gets made and as far as I know this is something that is very much just at conversation stage."

    We’ll keep you posted as we hear more.

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    Superman Returns never quite connected with audiences, but it's much better than its reputation suggests.

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    Jun 28, 2017

    Superman Returns, which was released on June 29, 2006, never quite connected with audiences the way the studio expected. In retrospect, its low-key, emotional approach is almost revolutionary, especially in light of our post-Avengerssuperhero movie world where most superhero movies are consistently trying to outdo each other with spectacle in the third act. There's a lot to like in Superman Returns, despite some of its questionable choices, and it's a movie that may have had the deck stacked against it from the start.

    It's a movie that clearly wants to appeal to a particular segment of the audience, namely Superman purists who grew up on Christopher Reeve's films, which depicted a friendly, idealistic hero operating in a fairly black and white world. Bryan Singer famously made his broad Superman Returns pitch to Superman: The Moviedirector, Richard Donner, and was so excited by the prospect of directing the character that he walked away from X-Men: The Last Stand. After the success of Singer's X2: X-Men United, which (for the time) was the rare superhero sequel that improved dramatically on the original, things seemed to be going the Man of Steel's way.

    The internet had spent much of the previous decade reading the developments surrounding Superman's big screen adventure with horror. Superman Lives had seen a procession of talent that seemed mismatched to the project, with stories taking absurd liberties with the character and the legend, all in the name of modernizing Superman, killing him, resurrecting him, giving him a robotic exo-suit, selling toys, and stripping the character of the hope and optimism that he normally would embody. There was even a very different Batman vs. Superman movie in development. Superman Returns feels very much like a reaction against all of that, almost like a commentary on Hollywood's behind-the-scenes mishandling of the character for a decade or more.

    But even a Superman Returns defender (like this writer) is often perplexed by some of the film’s decisions. Bryan Singer set out to make a romantic, mature Superman movie, as well as one that paid homage to the world established in the films that starred Christopher Reeve, a franchise that ended in tatters with the embarrassing Superman IV: The Quest For Peace in 1987. That one proved deadlier than Kryptonite to the Man of Steel's box office prospects for nearly 20 years. To that end, Superman Returns tells the tale of a Superman who has been absent from his world, just as he had been absent from the big screen, so the title is both about the character's return to Earth and the franchise's literal return to screens.

    The logic here, in theory, is sound. Superman’s origin story is one of the most oft-told in all of pop culture, and the rationale seemed to be why try and top the version put forth in Superman: The Movie, arguably the single greatest realization of a superhero origin story ever put to film. Everyone knows the broad strokes of Superman’s origin, but by adapting some of the other familiar trappings of the Richard Donner film (Krypton’s design, the John Williams theme, Marlon Brando as Jor-El), Singer and co. use some effective cinematic shorthand, immediately establishing a recognizable continuity without having to do too much heavy-lifting. It's a technique recently adopted by films like Creedand The Force Awakens, which more or less jettison the baggage of a procession of poor sequels in favor of letting the audience pick and choose what they want from the backstory.

    But on the other hand, it was never quite clear just how much of the previous Superman franchise was actually supposed to exist within the confines of SupermanReturns. The most likely scenario is that both Superman: The Movie and Superman II form the entirety of the Superman Returns backstory, which would account for what is perhaps the most controversial element of the film: Jason Lane.

    The introduction of Lois Lane's son, who to nobody's surprise was fathered by Superman, left a bad taste for some. Regardless of the fact that Superman left Earth before he likely would have detected Lois' pregnancy--meaning there was no way he could have known he had fathered a child--the "deadbeat dad" narrative took hold and never let go. It seemed like an unnecessary flourish in a movie that already spends considerable time depicting a Superman trying to come to terms with a more cynical modern world than the character had faced in his 1980s big screen outings.

    Watch Superman Returns on Amazon

    The youth of the core cast accentuated the problem with the new timeline. Brandon Routh (at 26) and Kate Bosworth (at 22) would have been well suited to a “Superman Begins” approach to a new mythology, but the idea that Superman had been gone for five years, after presumably having a career and friendship alongside Lois Lane that lasted at least two to three years prior to that, just didn’t seem to line up with the way these characters were portrayed on the screen.

    Brandon Routh did a fine job with that material, though. His somber, haunted, lonely Superman was recognizably the altruistic icon, and you could see him struggling to maintain that noble, hopeful edge in a world that seems to have moved on without him. The effect may have been one in which audiences felt sorry for the Man of Steel rather than identify with his pain, and that could have been off-putting. On the other hand, it's a different kind of alienation than producer Jon Peters had been desperately pushing during the previous decade of trying to bring Superman back to the screen, where Supes was alternately depicted as a neurotic, aloof alien or a cold loner. Here, with the film acting as a vague sequel to the Reeve films, you could at least see in Routh's performance the shadow of the character's past optimism, shaded with his new worldview.

    On paper, this vision of Superman sounds brilliant, and even subversive. But the weighty themes weren't couched in enough blockbuster convention to make it work for a broad enough audience, and there were some questionable editing choices early on. For starters, a massive sequence involving Superman visiting the ruins of Krypton was cut from the opening of the film. This sequence (it's available on the Blu-ray) is not only visually impressive and gives the movie a needed dose of sci-fi spectacle early on, but it's crucial to understanding why Superman was gone in the first place, and it's referenced later in the film.

    Instead, the movie opens on a cartoonish sequence involving Kevin Spacey's Lex Luthor (a casting that was better in theory than it ended up being in practice) stealing a fortune from an elderly woman (played by Noel Neill, arguably the greatest Lois Lane ever, and who deserved far better than this) via some of the most inexcusable expository dialogue in recent memory. Superman Returns then unfolds at an almost glacial pace, and you don't get to see Superman in costume until nearly an hour into the film, which is exactly what you would think skipping the origin story was intended to avoid. Other than a handful of big moments, the movie never quite develops a sense of pacing or urgency.

    What's frustrating is that Superman Returns could have still done virtually everything Bryan Singer set out to do, remained as faithful as possible to the tone and spirit of Richard Donner’s vision for the franchise, but told a more recognizably fresh story. And yes, that would have included the kid, and the leaving earth angle. But instead, the film's structure and character beats are too faithful to Superman: The Movie, with scenes and dialogue that play like loving tributes to the 1978 film. Audiences who were demanding fidelity to that vision of the character already knew that movie by heart, and wanted a new adventure, not another Lex Luthor land grab. There's no reason these themes of Superman coming to terms with a world that has moved on without him couldn't have been explored within the framework of a more exciting villain (Brainiac has long been waiting in the wings as Superman's best big screen option).

    But the deck was stacked against Superman Returns from the outset. When you consider that the budget for the movie was reportedly $270 million, something doesn't add up. Let’s compare that to two other 2006 blockbusters, X-Men: The Last Stand ($210 million) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ($225 million). Both of those films were much heavier on action, sets, costumed characters, and special effects than the relatively subdued Superman Returns, and yet cost far less to make (and ultimately did better at the box office). If those numbers don’t convince you, let’s compare that Superman Returns budget to that of Man of Steel, a far more action and special effects heavy film than its predecessor, which still only cost $225 million, nearly $50 million less than Returns, seven years later.

    Superman Returns was likely “billed” for pre-production work done on the many iterations of the development hell cautionary tale, Superman Lives, and the J.J. Abrams penned Superman: Flyby. My theory (and it’s one that I’m certain will never be confirmed) has long been that Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns pitch was so appealing to Warner Bros. at the time precisely because it meant that it could be brought in on a relatively modest budget (by superhero movie standards), and the accountants could be kept happy. Even the movie's best action sequence, the universally acclaimed space plane rescue, was fairly similar to an Air Force One rescue in Abrams' Superman draft, right down to a landing in a baseball stadium. I've long suspected that some of the visual work had been bought and paid for by that earlier version of the project.

    Warner Bros. may have been gambling on the momentum of the recently revitalized Batman franchise (via 2005's Batman Begins) and the comparative new-ness of the superhero movie revival (keep in mind, in 2006 we were still lucky to get one superhero movie per summer, and both Spider-Man 2 and X2: X-Men United had both proven within the last three years that the genre was no longer a fluke) to carry their more thoughtful Superman re-introduction to financial success, and then they could unleash a more action-oriented sequel down the road.

    Of course, that wasn’t to be. Superman Returns just didn’t generate a lot of heat at the box office. It limped to a $200 million finish (with almost another $200 million worldwide), which ordinarily would have been enough to garner a sequel, but again, that inflated $270 million budget figure means that the film may have just barely broken even when all was considered. It was reasonably well regarded critically, and certainly not as reviled as that summer’s other superheroic offering, X-Men: The Last Stand (which did more business at the box office).

    But even that muted emotional response is a problem. Everyone has a strong opinion about X-Men 3. Fewer seem to even remember Superman Returns, let alone harbor particularly strong feelings about it one way or the other. For that reason, perhaps Superman Returns' box office underperformance can be attributed to its failure to excite core superhero fans, who were almost universally disappointed by the lack of new characters, any hint of wider Superman or DC mythology (the “shared cinematic universe” of today was still a pipe dream in 2006, although many hoped that Routh’s Superman could one day meet Christian Bale’s Batman), and its introspective tone.

    The result? A sequel that never materialized. Despite the fact that Warner Bros. quickly said they were moving forward on a sequel (which would have been titled Superman: The Man of Steel) very little actual movement towards a Superman Returns 2 ever took place. Bryan Singer seemed to quickly sense that audiences were dissatisfied with the lack of action and there was talk of a more action oriented sequel.

    Bryan Singer admitted that he only discussed the possibility, telling Empire, "We did explore it a little. Just hammering out ideas. I think Darkseid was going to be the villain. It was pretty world-destroying, actually." We'd be looking at a vastly different superhero movie landscape if Superman took on Darkseid in the summer of 2009, a year after The Dark Knight and Iron Man once again showed what was capable in these kinds of movies.

    A breakdown of a sequel treatment that made the rounds several years back (which involved Brainiac arriving disguised as a hero, and Superman being forced to end the life of his young son after he was possessed by Brainiac) was a fake, and it never appears that things moved beyond the talking stage. Warner Bros. was likely willing to move on from Superman Returns long before they were ready to tell the people actually involved in the film. 

    Even Brandon Routh never really knew the shape it would have taken. "There were several conversations with me over the years, but I was never that involved,"he told us. "I heard rumors of what might be, but there was a lot of change happening over at Warner Bros. at that time, so things didn’t fully evolve and escalate and I think that was one of the challenges that potential sequel met with, there was just a lot of shifting going on there."

    Join Amazon Prime - Watch Thousands of Movies & TV Shows Anytime - Start Free Trial Now

    And maybe it's appropriate that it never happened. For better or worse, Superman Returns never felt like the start of something new, but rather a farewell to an era of the franchise that never got the appropriate sendoff it deserved. For fans, it's still worth a look, and it's likely the last Superman movie we'll ever see where the primary function of the character isn't concerned with the just how much he can do with his powers on screen.

    The airplane rescue is rightly touted as a high point in the character's cinematic history, but don't overlook the moment when he pulls the yacht out of the water, just at the moment when all seems lost for Lois, Richard, and Jason. I'm not sure any Superman movie has ever quite nailed that feeling of absolute hopelessness before the last minute rescue. It's an extraordinarily tense sequence, but the moment of release when you realize everything is going to be okay as the music swells is something that future big screen Superman adventures should look to for inspiration.

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    Often spoken of, but rarely seen, The Amazing Spider-Man TV show from the late '70s has never had a DVD, Blu-ray, or digital release.

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    Jun 28, 2017

    There's a good chance that if you're reading this, you've never really seen all that much of The Amazing Spider-Man, the live-action CBS TV series that aired between April 1978 and July 1979. The show produced a mere thirteen episodes (including two feature-length installments and an additional two-parter that sometimes aired as a TV movie), before vanishing into the abyss of infrequent basic cable airings, incomplete VHS releases, low-quality convention floor bootlegs, and finally, complete obscurity.

    You've probably seen bits and pieces on the internet, wondered at the complete lack of memorable villains (a mad scientist with a grudge here, the occasional ninja there, and plenty of dudes in business suits), been blinded by the '70s fashions (those very wide), or snickered about Spidey's rope web-shooters and the show's relatively (by today's standards) low-budget look. But look a little closer, and you'll see what fans of the series do.

    Nicholas Hammond's excellent Peter Parker deserves more recognition in the pantheon of superhero performances. The show's lo-fi aesthetic sometimes feels more true to Spider-Man's hard luck roots than the nine figure blockbusters that he's starred in. Most importantly, there are the incredible stunts. Spidey stuntman Fred Waugh most certainly scaled the sides of buildings, without the benfit of special effects, and often with a camera built into the headpiece of his Spidey rig. The occasional visible cable aside, there are some dizzying moments involving a very real Spider-Man dozens of stories up the side of a building, dangling from a helicopter, or in one (often reused) sequence, actually swinging from one building ledge to another.

    After The Amazing Spider-Man left the airwaves, if you squinted hard enough, you might be able to spot it in your cable listings from time to time, popping up on local stations specializing in syndicated content or basic cable channels like TBS, USA, or even The Sci-Fi Channel (in its pre-Syfy years). Home video releases were scarce, with several individual episodes made available by companies like Playhouse Video (who were owned by CBS) and low-rent VHS houses like Prism and Star Classics. To give you an idea of the quality involved, my copy of Star Classics'"Photo Finish" episode was defective and didn't have sound. I was a dissapointed little kid. 

    Not even the great Rhino Home Video, who partnered up with the Sci-Fi Channel in 1997 to release a number of episodes on VHS, wasn't complete or definitive. For one thing, they left out "The Captive Tower," which has never had any official home video release that I can find, and the one most often missing from basic cable marathons (although I distinctly remember Sci-Fi Channel airing it). Ironically, it's the series' best, most exciting episode. I've never actually seen the Rhino versions, and wasn't even aware of their existence until this writing, so I can't really speak to things like picture or sound quality, but Rhino have always been known for putting out loving releases, so I would have to imagine they were better than their predecessors.

    Watch Spider-Man movies and TV shows on Amazon

    Another problem is that several unrelated episodes were edited together for overseas release or for airing as three cable TV "movies." As a result, the most widely available versions of six of the series thirteen total episodes have been spliced together, which also makes it impossible to watch the series in production or airdate order. The versions of those single episodes that pop up on YouTube from time to time are of even lower quality, since most of those never saw any kind of home video release in unaltered form. If that sounds a little too OCD for you, consider this: even as a fan, I'm the first to admit that some of these aren't great, and on its best day The Amazing Spider-Man isn't exactly binge-watching material. It's often better in smaller doses.

    Den of Geek doesn't advocate piracy. But when something is unavailable via official channels for as long as The Amazing Spider-Man, fans are gonna do what fans are gonna do. Even most convention floor bootlegs I've come across simply don't have many of these episodes in their original format (the "spliced episodes" issue, etc). What's worse, the quality isn't always consistent from episode to episode. I have yet to find one set, for example, that uses the same sources throughout. It would seem that the Rhino/Sci-Fi Channel branded VHS releases would coincide with a brief period when Sci-Fi would air Spidey marathons, but I've yet to come across one set sourced entirely from those airings or the VHS.

    You would think that after nearly 40 years, and with Spider-Man being handily the superhero merchandising champion of the world (he buries Batman, for example), someone would have finally wised up and given us some kind of definitive official release for this series. While it's quite likely that the suits simply don't believe there's much demand for the series (and they might be right), I have to wonder. Warner Bros. have made similarly forgotten superhero fare like the SuperboyTV series available through their budget Warner Archive label, and for a number of years even made the complete live-action Japanese Spider-Man sentai available for free streaming (it's long gone, sadly). If they were willing to do it for that one, why not The Amazing Spider-Man?

    Let's have a look...

    There have been persistent rumors through the years that The Amazing Spider-Man was denied proper home video releases simply because Stan Lee was ashamed of the show. Lee was never a fan, for sure. "I felt the people who did the live-action series left out the very elements that made the comic book popular...They left out the humor. They left out the human interest and personality and playing up characterizations and personal problems," Lee said in an old interview. Lee did at least have high praise for the show's practical stunt work. Anyway, I'm not sure Stan Lee has the power to block a home video release like that. But is it possible that the rights to The Amazing Spider-Man are tied up in a legal web, similar to what prevented the release of the 1960s BatmanTV series on home video for so long?

    A look at recent releases of other Spider-Man television properties on home video doesn't offer many clues. The most recent Spidey animated series, Ultimate Spider-Manis released via Buena Vista Home Entertainment (a division of Marvel parent company, Disney), as is the '90s animated cartoon. Spider-Man: The '67 Collection (an excellent collection of Spidey's original cartoon) came from Walt Disney Video. This all makes sense, right?

    But recent efforts like the MTV Spider-Man animated series released in the wake of the first Sam Raimi film and the excellent but short-lived Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon were both released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. See why this is getting confusing? It's hard enough figuring out what the deal is with Marvel and Sony when it comes to the movies, but now they're both in charge of releasing home video versions of various TV projects featuring the webhead. Perhaps The Amazing Spider-Man is caught somewhere in the middle.

    My quest to figure out who has the actual rights to put The Amazing Spider-Manout on home video didn't get far. Inquiries with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Marvel, Rhino, and even Syfy (that last one was a long shot, I admit) were dead ends. I had a brief e-mail exchange with Chuck Fries, president of Chuck Fries Productions, the company that produced The Amazing Spider-Man for CBS, who informed me that his company had distribution rights for the series for twenty years, after which the rights reverted "in total" to Marvel. Of course, that was right around the time that the other rights issues surrounding Spidey, the ones that kept him out of the movies for so long (that's a whole 'nother headache), were about to get resolved, and it doesn't answer the question of whether or not Sony then got control of the rights to this series as part of everything else. 

    I still can't determine if there's something blocking any kind of official home video or digital release of this series. But assuming there are no legal hurdles to clear, it's time to release The Amazing Spider-Man in some form. Look, nobody expects this to get some kind of reverential, deluxe treatment along the lines of the recently released and joyously received Batman: The Complete Television Series. Batman '66 was a genuine pop culture phenomenon during its heyday, an inescapable component of syndicated television for the next twenty-five years, and it defined the general populace's perceptions of the character until Tim Burton and Michael Keaton came along. One can't say the same about The Amazing Spider-Man

    But fans (including this writer) would happily settle for cleaned up versions of these episodes released online for paid download or streaming. I don't expect much in the way of a physical release, but at the very least, I imagine that stuntman Fred Waugh (the man who wore the Spider-Man suit and dangled hundreds of feet above ground on the side of buildings, all while wearing what could be described as a primitive GoPro) has some interesting stories to tell about his dangerous time in the Spidey costume, which would make for a fine special feature.

    Check out this bit of archival behind-the-scenes footage of Fred Waugh in the Spidey suit:

    I had an informal chat via Twitter with George Khoury, co-author of the excellent Age of TV Heroes book available from TwoMorrows Publishing, and his take on the situation was the same as that of many fans: a resigned acceptance that there just isn't enough demand for a release. But he did say one thing, which we should probably take to heart. "The studios don't see this stuff as's our job to let them know they exist."

    So maybe we should make some noise on social media. Do you want to see The Amazing Spider-Man get an official release? Let us know. Maybe we can get something going. I will continue to update this article if and when new information becomes available. But the fact that Spider-Man: Homecoming is nearly upon us and there's still no sign of this isn't encouraging.

    In the meantime, there's a petition to the folks at Buena Vista Home Entertainment that you can sign. It's worth a shot, right?

    Until then, I leave you with this glorious video, encompassing lots of the crazy stuntwork that went into making this show, if nothing else, an interesting relic deserving of a second look. Dig the crazy tunes, too.

    Mike Cecchini would sell you out so fast to get this series in high quality. Help him with his priorities on Twitter.

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    DC is collecting all 30 of their original animated original films in one set

    News Jim Dandy
    Jun 28, 2017

    DC Entertainment announced today that following the release of Batman and Harley Quinn this summer, they'll be collecting all 30 (holy socks!) DC Universe original movies in one box set to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the line.

    The films, which started in 2007 with Superman: Doomsday, have covered classic DC stories like the Death of Superman, The Dark Knight Returns, and Justice League: The New Frontier. Over the last few years, they shifted towards telling one longer story, with nine of the last 12 stories all fitting together (from The Flashpoint Paradox to presumably the upcoming Batman and Harley, only The Killing Joke, Justice League: Gods and Monsters, and Assault on Arkham were not at least consecutive stories with a Batman or Damian Wayne arc). However, The Judas Contract, the most recent release, did mix the classic Teen Titans storyline into the current DC Animated original continuity, so perhaps that's a sign that more adaptations are to come (Den of Geek would be happy to provide a comprehensive list should the need arise, DC).

    The box set will be 32 discs, and will include the newly released commemorative editions of Wonder Woman and The New Frontier, along with a disc that contains all the animated shorts - The Spectre, Catwoman, Jonah Hex, Green Arrow and Superman/Shazam: The Return of BlackAdam

    And don't forget: we took a look at all of them and told you which ones are worth watching and which you should skip. That list will be updated soon, and can be found here. Stay with Den of Geek for updates to this box set, including special features. 

    The box set arrives on November 7. Just in time for your holiday shopping needs.

    Here's the full list...































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    Whether you've read The Dragonbone Chair or not, Tad Williams' return to this world is an epic saga for anyone who likes high fantasy.

    Tad Williams is at it again. His new novel finds novel angles in familiar territory, recapturing the world of the Storm King's War for the start of a new saga. The first novel in the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, The Dragonbone Chair, was published back in 1988, inspiring authors like George R.R. Martin to write their own epic fantasy series. The last in the trilogy, To Green Angel Tower, was published in 1993. The return to this fictional world has been a long time in the making.

    The Witchwood Crown follows some of the same characters 30 years later, but introduces some new, younger characters to the mix. You can jump into this book without having read the previous three, but be prepared to be inundated with names of people, lands, and traditions that will all be hard to keep track of at once. Persevere, and you’ll have a pretty good grasp on all but the most obscure references. And, in classic fantasy novel tradition, there's maps and an appendix to help you follow along.

    A lot takes place in this massive book that clocks in at 736 pages. That's partly due to the shifting viewpoint and globe-hopping between chapters. Primarily we follow the Erkynlanders (King Simon, Queen Miriamele, Prince Morgan), the immortal Hikeda’ya or Norns (Viyeki, Nezeru, Tzoja), and sparse chapters that detail the struggles of the nomadic Thrithings-folk.

    The story is split amongst these viewpoints, as the Hikeda’ya Queen awakens from a coma-like recuperative sleep, and they decide the time has arrived to move against the mortal people of the world again. The Norns, you see, are still sore that they lost the war to mortals many years ago. They wish to restore themselves to their former glory and don’t much care for anyone who doesn’t look like them.

    The people of Erkynland fear the rumors that the "White Foxes" are on the move again. Tensions are so high you could cut them with a knife. Part of the King and Queen's worries lie in their grandson, Morgan, their sole heir who has more interest in women and booze than affairs of state.

    One of the most poignant quotes I pulled from the book was right before a battle, as King Simon addresses young singer Rinan. Simon had yelled at Rinan for singing songs about him in the past, then felt compelled to explain:

    You see, lad, there’s the world in songs and stories, and then there’s the world that actually happens to you. And they’re not the same. Even the songs that are about real things -- songs that are mostly true, I mean -- they’re about people thinking about those things afterward.

    Simon is very much grounded because of his past. He doesn’t appreciate the glorifying of his past heroic deeds because he started out as a simple kitchen boy. Simon and Miriamele’s relationship and rule are stable, wholesome and not without a sense of humor. These are the easy "good guys" to root for. It's from this we can base the moral compass of the world, because the Norns and Sithi are more extreme in their belief systems.

    The Norns are very entitled, even though they were nearly wiped out by mortals in a past war. They hide themselves away underground, leading to the sickly white skin tone that gains them the derogatory term "White Foxes" by those Erkynlanders.

    The Sithi are opposites of the Norns, but not altogether easy to get along with. Recent events have made them distrustful of mortals, which makes what should have been a likely alliance a very tenuous reunion.

    The book is a slow boil, each part like a new portion of a musical composition in a different key but inevitably builds to the conclusion. This isn’t your typical fantasy novel that ends in a war between feuding nations, though it seems that’s where it inevitably will lead in successive books. (The Witchwood Crown is part one in a planned trilogy.) Instead, we have several climaxes for our different characters, leaving them in precarious positions and begging the question of what will happen next.

    That’s not to say that things don’t happen in the rest of the book. There’s revelations, voyages, disputes, battles, stealth, and so much treachery. Sometimes, the more interesting chapters are those that took a step back from the rising tensions between mortals and Norns to take a look at the migratory Thrithings clans or the point of view of a slave. These portions fill out a rich world populated with characters that compliment each other.

    A number of viewpoint characters hold back information that will have dire consequences, if not in this book then later on in the series. Morgan comes upon a few unsettling situations that he doesn’t divulge to his royal grandparents. A monk, simply filling a library in honor of the King and Queen’s deceased son, stumbles upon a banned — and purportedly dangerous — book. Nezeru has to lie to save her life. Lies are sometimes needed to bring about truth.

    Nezeru makes a profound character change, and is one to watch. She is one of the Queen’s Talons, but all that changes during a mission in the field. She purposefully misses the killing blow on her victim and is punished for it. Nezeru is half mortal and her hesitation lands her in deep trouble.

    Nezeru starts questioning how the Norns do things. That is amplified when her party is joined by mortal Queen’s huntsman Jarnulf. He’s pretty bold for being a mortal among immortals, and he says more than enough to get himself in peril among his Norn traveling companions, who don’t want him around.

    Even Viyeki, her Norn father, shows great change. He holds a nice title being High Magister of the Order of Builders, but his steadfast beliefs in the Norn way of life are chipped away. Several notable plot points happen, but there’s is a pivotal moment near the end of the book that really sells the change.

    Viyeki is out in the world on the Queen’s business, and a light rain begins to fall. He marvels at the sensation, and how much different life is when not stuck belowground: "What would it be like, he wondered, to live always beneath the sky like this?"

    Throughout the sometimes ponderous 700+ pages, you can’t help but grow fond of these characters. I think of Morgan and his drunken exploits which later lead to profound insight. I also think of Nezeru, becoming more independent the further she travels. With each switch of the chapter we get another viewpoint and another thread to follow.

    It’s quite the tapestry that Tad Williams has woven. If you like fantasy that doesn’t hit you over the head with magic spells, or world-spanning tales with numerous rich characters, you’ll enjoy what Williams has brought to the table here. I know I did.

    ReviewBridget LaMonica
    Jun 29, 2017

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    Before Star Trek, Star Wars, or Super 8, J.J. Abrams wrote an epic Superman movie, and it very nearly happened.

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    Jun 30, 2017

    Long before Henry Cavill put on the tights for Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, he was very nearly cast as Kal-El in a different attempt to revitalize the Superman legend on the big screen. In 2002 J.J. Abrams was enjoying some acclaim thanks to the Felicity and Alias TV shows, but he was still years removed from the career-changing Lost and Mission Impossible III. On July 26th, 2002 Abrams delivered the first draft of a screenplay titled simply "Superman." I've read both of Abrams' drafts of the project, and they're a lot of fun.

    Abrams' Superman was written in the wake of a series of failed attempts to bring the character back to the big-screen after Cannon Films' disappointing (and low-budget) Superman IV: The Quest for Peace all the way back in 1987. During that time, the franchise had scripts written by writers as diverse as William Wisher, Dan Gilroy (who recently found acclaim with Nightcrawler), and, most famously, Kevin Smith, all of which dealt in some form or another with the "Death of Superman" storyline from the comics which had generated endless publicity and stellar sales between 1992-1993. Tim Burton was attached to direct for several years, and he developed the project for his intended Superman, Nicolas Cage, then at the peak of his blockbuster success in the wake of The Rock and Con Air.

    Once those projects fell apart, Warner Bros. opted for a different take on the mythology. Two, as a matter of fact. One was the project that we're discussing here. The other was Batman v. Superman: Asylum, written by Se7enscribe Andrew Kevin Walker with Enemy Mine director Wolfang Petersen set to direct (I wrote much more about that one elsewhere). Why reinvigorate one franchise when you can do two at once, right? While that movie was never to be, Warner Bros. clearly decided to save its concept for a rainy day.

    A look at Abrams' first draft (which entered various stages of pre-production under the working title of Superman: Flyby), reveals many of the same elements which, years later, would make his Star Trek reboot a financial (albeit polarizing) success. Like he did in Star Trek, Abrams leaves little to chance, making sure that every element of Superman's origin is significant (perhaps too significant) while every relationship is introduced and explained in almost excruciating detail.

    These incidents of "Abrams over-explaining" are peppered throughout the draft. Ty-Zor is, essentially, General Zod...but instead of a mere rival, he's Superman's angrier cousin. Clark's glasses aren't a disguise, they're custom made with "lead-specked" lenses to help the young boy control his vision powers. Clark Kent is a college senior with an undeclared major until he runs into a feisty journalism student named Lois Lane at a frat party, thereby changing the course of his career (as if the "stalker" criticisms of Superman Returns weren't pointed enough). Jonathan Kent drops dead of a heart-attack when news of Clark's first excursion as Superman reaches him. Jor-El visited Earth decades earlier to determine whether the Kents were worthy of raising his get the picture.

    Like Man of SteelSuperman: Flyby shows off a Krypton full of giant robots, warsuits, and toy-ready weapons known as "Blastaffs" wielded skillfully by a decidedly pro-active Jor-El (described as a "king" at one point in a draft). Abrams offers copious notes throughout the script, going beyond commentary, characterization, and stage directions into musical cues and other suggestions. In what would have been a refreshing twist, one of his notes reads that "all scenes on Krypton are spoken in actual language we will develop" and calling for subtitles during important passages of dialogue.

    When summaries of this draft hit the internet, the backlash centered on a number of deviations from the established mythology. At the top of that list is the fact that Superman isn't sent to Earth in order to escape the destruction of the planet, but rather to protect him from his evil uncle (Jor-El's brother), Kata-Zor. You see, was 2002, and Hollywood was drunk on the success of films like The Matrix, the Star Wars prequels, and the Lord of the Rings films. This meant that Superman: Flyby was intended as the first act of a trilogy; one that centered on Kal-El as an heir to the throne of Krypton, with a mysterious "Prophecy" he must fulfill. There's more of this throughout the draft, as we're introduced to minor Kryptonian characters like Predius, who Abrams promises "we won't get to know...until the next film of the series." 

    Of course, Ty-Zor finds his way to Earth, and the expected mayhem ensues. In fact, given what's on the page here, Man of Steel (and, for that matter, the Transformers movies) would look like a plucky little indie film in comparison. Superman's battle with Ty-Zor (and his ninja-like Kryptonian cronies, Baz-Al, Caan, and Alta) and their giant robot war machines isn't confined to Metropolis or Smallville (and Gotham City, which also gets a mention) but do considerable damage to the pyramids at Giza and the cathedral of Notre Dame! And, let's just say that the controversial ending of Man of Steel had some precedent here, as well.

    Watch Man of Steel on Amazon

    If you found Abrams' Star Trek films too subtle, then you would likely have been in heaven watching his Superman. The first draft is 139 pages, and certainly tries to do too much...including a Doomsday-less "death and resurrection of Superman" sequence which feels so shoehorned in that it could only be a result of a Warner Bros. studio edict insisting that the best-selling Superman saga in decades should somehow make it to the screen. Wait...that sounds familiar. Think about how certain sections of Star Trek Into Darkness were crowbarred into the narrative, and you're on the right track.

    And then, of course, there's the other matter that made waves when this draft leaked. Lex Luthor is a CIA Agent, working in the "Special Operations Division," who spends his time chasing down reported UFO evidence. Lex is a clever, well-written, fun character, and it seems that his general mistrust of Superman is simply a result of his unique job description...until it's revealed in the final pages that he is actually a Kryptonian sleeper agent, with all of the abilities of Superman. I wish I could say that this reads better than it sounds, but it doesn't, especially after the all-out carnage from the battle between Superman and the other Kryptonians (aided by the armies of the world), Superman's death and rebirth, and all of the civil war and strife still happening back on the decidedly non-exploded Krypton. It's a bit much.

    While both drafts are famous for the controversy they stirred, it should be noted that these are fairly enjoyable reads. The dialogue is lively and smart, and, despite my Superman purist instincts howling at Krypton's continued existence, Abrams crafts it in such detail, with its own language, specific geography, races (there are intelligent non-humans that also populate Krypton), and even seemingly insignificant details like board games, that it's a fascinating read. Clark Kent's awkward persona isn't an act, but rather a result of years of living in a world that he fears he could shatter with a misplaced display of emotion. I feel like we see a little of that in the Spock of the recent Star Trek films, but there's a hint of this in the Clark Kent of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman as well.

    Here's the thing: when Flyby works, it really cooks. After Superman's rescue of Air Force One, there's a sequence similar to the "first night on the job" sequence from Superman: The Movie. Only here, there are no cats stuck in trees. Instead, Superman is rescuing Japanese fishing boats from tsunamis, stopping erupting volcanoes in Peru (presumably in a more convincing fashion than what was on display in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace), and even making the time, in proper Golden Age Superman style, to stop a wife-beater in his tracks (in the second draft some of these are subbed out for a daring daylight jewelry store robbery in London, an avalanche in Austria, etc).

    Abrams describes Superman's screen presence (and how other characters react to him) as "like seeing every great sports figure of all time, rolled into one, at the height of their career, only airborne." With the right director, there would certainly have been a few magic moments, and it's all but certain that Superman's battle with a giant Kryptonian mech (known as a "Rouser") would have been an impressive spectacle.

    But when it doesn't work? It's groan-inducing. There are significant pacing issues in the first draft, particularly in the last act. It feels like these events take place in the time it takes to read them. In the space of about thirty pages Superman debuts, becomes an idol of millions, then loses that trust thanks to the actions of Ty-Zor and his buddies, dies, becomes loved again, and returns. THEN it's on to the big battle. Woof.

    The second draft is dated October 24, 2003, runs 125 pages (compared to the first draft's weighty 139) and it's the first time the title "Flyby" actually appears on the page. Early on, the religious nature of the "Prophesy" that Kal-El will eventually fulfill is played up, and there's some mention of a Kryptonian "holy land" named Menna, which appears to be an entire continent. While Krypton isn't destroyed in this version, a chunk of it is, as a powerful bomb planted by Kata-Zor detonates, leaving Krypton looking like "a planetary apple" with "a bite taken out of it." The early sections are tightened up considerably, losing a truly awful "growing up Kent" musical montage which featured...I kid you not...a Kryptonian dirty diaper joke.

    Luthor is no longer a Kryptonian sleeper agent, but a disheveled crackpot and UFO enthusiast, who stumbles on a Kryptonian pod (sent, of course, by Kata-Zor to track down Kal-El) with a dying soldier inside. The alien encounter leaves Lex bald, but also "enlightened" and he goes from crackpot to super genius thanks to a rather nebulous Kryptonian mind-meld that isnt adequately explained. Lex is no longer a CIA agent in this draft, and he soon becomes the more familiar billionaire head of LexCorp that fans had come to expect...and he's running for President.

    The bizarre "Kryptonian mind-meld" aside, it's remarkable how making Lex a more traditional (and central) piece of the plot makes Flyby feel that much more like an actual Superman movie, even before we get to see Superman in action! The traditional dynamic is here, with Lois Lane investigating the corrupt billionaire while he experiments with dangerous alien technology in secret labs. And, of course, Superman's rescue of Air Force One (whose distress was engineered by Luthor) is the revelation Lex needs to confirm what he had seen all those years earlier. The first meeting of Superman and Luthor plays like something out of Superman: The Animated Series, and, of course, when Superman refuses to join Luthor's plans for conquest, Lex activates a beacon that will lead Ty-Zor to Earth. 

    Less time is spent on Krypton in the second draft, perhaps because of the (ahem) fractured state it was left in, or perhaps in an attempt to deliver a movie that could be made for less than $300 million. But while Krypton still hasn't been totally wiped out, it's clear that the destruction of the continent of Menna has had long-reaching consequences, and the planet is in danger of falling out of orbit and finally meeting the fate that fans expect...just not yet. Other issues that had bothered folks in the leaked first draft are also eliminated, notably the super-suit's weirdly "alive" nature, as well as any mention of Jimmy Olsen being "effeminate" and some unfortunately dismissive (and unfunny) jokes at the expense of his sexuality. 

    The ninja-like Kryptonian warriors from the first draft are absent, and the battle between Superman and Ty-Zor (and his giant mech) is confined to Metropolis. While Superman once again dies and is reborn, it happens in a matter of minutes, and the pacing issues from the earlier draft are mostly resolved. Both versions of Flyby end the same way, with Superman boarding the craft he arrived in to fly off to Krypton and pursue his destiny in the second act of the intended trilogy. The strange Krypton stuff aside, the 2003 draft of Superman: Flyby feels MUCH more like a Superman movie than the first...and probably would have been actually affordable to film.

    So, how close did we come to actually seeing Superman: Flyby on the big screen? Pretty close, it would seem. A pre-Terminator: Salvation director McG was set to direct, before a (yes) fear of flying took him out of the running. Rush Hour (and future X-Men: The Last Stand) director Brett Ratner then took over the chair, only to be replaced guessed it...McG. Other directors were approached, but Ratner and McG did the most work by far on the project.

    Phil Saunders (who would later go on to concept art success with AvengersJohn Carter, and Tron: Legacy, among others) did a number of designs under Ratner's watch, but left the project shortly before McG took over (more from Saunders on this right here). The Stan Winston Studio (Terminator 2PredatorAliens) designed (and possibly sculpted) costumes for Superman and Ty-Zor. You can see a clay sculpture of a Ty-Zor design from Eddie Yang of the Stan Winston Studio right here.

    Casting was well under way, as well. At one point there were reliable reports (that appear to have been lost to the ages, unfortunately) that Anthony Hopkins was playing Jor-El. McG claimed in an interview that "we had Robert Downey Jr. locked up to be Lex Luthor, which I think would have been extraordinary." Given how Luthor is written, particularly in the second draft, it's easy to see how Downey would have fit right into the shoes of a very different kind of genius, billionaire industrialist.

    A number of supporting roles were, at the very least, well into the discussion process, as well. An 18 year old Shia LaBeouf was cast as Jimmy Olsen, and in an interview with USA Today he claimed that Johnny Depp was another possibility for Lex Luthor and Scarlett Johansson was one of McG's choices for Lois Lane (with Selma Blair's name also mentioned).

    And what about Superman? "Ironically, we liked Henry Cavill a lot, but we hadn't cast him yet." A photo of Henry Cavill from his screentest showing him in a Superman costume has surfaced. At the time of the second draft, Cavill would have been 20 years old. Test footage was "reportedly shot" with Cavill, Jason Behr, Michael Cassidy, and Supernatural's Jared Padalecki. Ashton Kutcher screentested for the role. There were disturbing rumors that Warner Bros. wanted Justin Timberlake to wear the cape. There were others, too. Casting a Kryptonian is an arduous process.

    [related article: 11 Actors Who Have Played Superman]

    Ultimately, White Collar star, Matt Bomer was Brett Ratner's choice to play Superman. "There was a time when Brett Ratner and I were going to work together on it (Superman)," he confirmed in a 2010 interview with MTV News. The studio preferred Josh Hartnett. Nobody got what they wanted.

    How did a film like Superman: Flyby get so far into the process and never materialize? Money, of course. Abrams' first draft would have been unfilmable from a budgetary standpoint, and while the second draft toned down the gigantic set pieces considerably, it still wouldn't have been cheap. There had been Superman films languishing in development hell in various stages of pre-production for a decade which meant the clock was ticking, and the budget was creeping skyward. It's worth noting that Superman Returns, a low-key movie by superhero standards, had a rumored budget of over $200 million...meaning that it was likely billed for about $100 million worth of Superman films that never saw the light of day, including Flyby.

    There is one major element of Flyby which did eventually make it to the screen in Superman Returns. During Superman's first public appearance he rescues a crashing Air Force One (not an experimental space plane), and sets it down on the field at Fenway Park (although in Superman Returns it appears to be Dodger Stadium), before ignoring the President to ask Lois Lane if she's okay. The description of the plane rescue on the page makes it pretty clear that the most exciting sequence in Superman Returns was at least partially developed for Flyby.

    More than a decade later, fans finally got to see a Superman movie utilizing all of the firepower at Superman's (and Hollywood's) disposal. Man of Steel is more faithful to the Superman mythos than Superman: Flyby, which was certainly a product of its time (the less said about the Matrix-esque Kryptonian martial arts battles in the first draft, the better). Despite some of the action taking place in Gotham City (and other DCU locales like Hub City getting mentions), Flyby was less interested in starting a cinematic DC Universe than it was in building a very specific movie world for Superman to inhabit. It seems likely that if Flyby had made it to theaters in 2004 or 2005, it would have succeeded in launching a franchise, but it would have been just as contentious (if not more so) than Man of Steel

    I ramble endlessly about unproduced superhero movie scripts (and other things) on Twitter.

    Click here for more of Phil Saunders' Superman: Flyby concept art.

    Click here for more of Steve Johnson's Superman: Flyby concept art. 

    *** Jake Rossen's Superman vs. Hollywood helped me track down a few details, and was invaluable in helping keep the timeline straight on all of this. ***

    This article originally ran in June of 2013. It has been lightly updated and corrected since then.

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    The hockey bros web comic will be moving from Tumblr to the "real" world.

    News Kayti Burt
    Jun 30, 2017

    We've written before here at Den of Geek about why Check, Please! is the queer hockey bros web comic you should be reading, but, soon, it will be easier than ever to check out the comic off the web.

    According to Entertainment Weekly, Check, Please! is getting an official printing (outside of its Kickstarter printings). First Second Books will be publishing two volumes of the college-based comic. The first, which is set to be released in fall 2018, will include the first two "years" of Bitty's time at Samwell University.

    The second, which is set to be released in fall 2019, will include the second two "years" of Bitty's adventures with Samwell University's hockey team and his love story with Jack Zimmerman. Both volumes will include extra content not featured in Check, Please!'s Kickstarter editions.

    It's unclear, at this point, if the in-print publishing will result in the comic's removal from its online homes — via its official website and Tumblr— in fall 2018.

    Presumably, author Ngozi Ukazu will include to update her second volume story online at least until its publish date in fall 2019. This is good news because, as great as it will be to have a tangible copy of Check, Please! to call your own, this comic and its fandom are so internet-based. The internet will always be the place this story calls home.

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    Everything we know about the second season of The Shannara Chronicles...

    News Kayti Burt
    Jun 30, 2017

    The Shannara Chronicles will be moving from MTV to Spike for Season 2. Though we'll have to wait until October to see the new episodes on their new home, the show has officially finished filming it second season in New Zealand...

    Here's everything we know about the upcoming season...

    Shanara Chronicles Season 2 Release Date

    The Shannara Chronicles Season 2 will premiere on Spike in October. In the mean time, Spike is airing an encore of Shannara Chronicles Season 1 that began on Thursday, June 29, if you feel like reliving the drama of the first season before the second season premiere.

    Shannara Chronicles Season 2 Trailer

    As of yet, we have seen no footage from The Shannara Chronicles season two, but we'll be sure to update this page when a teaser or trailer drops.

    Shannara Chronicles Season 2 Cast

    In the first season, The Shannara Chronicles starred Arrow's Manu Bennett, Pan's Labyrinth's Ivana Basquero, The Carrie Diaries' Austin Butler (also know as Thea Queen's DJ assassin boyfriend), and relative newcomer Poppy Drayton. Of course, the fate of Drayton's Amberle was very much in-the-air come the season one finale.

    Returning for Season 2 from the original Season 1 cast will be: Austin Butler (Wil), Ivana Baquero (Eretria), Manu Bennett (Allanon), Aaron Jakubenko (Ander) and Marcus Vanco (Bandon).

    Speaking to Hypable about her character's arc in Season 2, Baquero said: "I think for Eretria this season is mainly about discovering where she comes from, who she is, who her parents really were, what the tattoo means… There’s a lot of that in this new season."

    The Shannara Chronicles Season 2 will pick up a year after the events of Season 1, and finds The Four Lands in chaos, with an organization called The Crimson is intent on hunting down magic users.

    Amidst the unrest, Will, still mourning the loss of Amberle and his separation from Eretria, has turned his back on his magical healer destiny. Meanwhile, Bandon has turned super evil and is on a mission to resurrect The Warlock Lord. (No, The Warlock Lord is not a nice guy.)  

    Hypable caught up with Ivana Baquero (aka Eretria) recently to talk Shannara Chronicles Season 2. Baquero teased: "I can say that Wil is indeed looking for Eretria. So that’s still happening. And we will discover who the person is that she sees down in the tunnels with the Trolls."

    More generally, Baquero said of Season 2's structure: "There’s a lot of new evil and new elements coming up. So rather than being one quest and one story, now there’s a lot of storylines trying to contain this evil that’s trying to take over the world. It’s going to be very interesting."

    There's a whole host of new characters this season. As Baquero described it: "We've got new girls, new boys… We got Gentry [White,] Malese [Jow,] Vanessa [Morgan]… Obviously, they're great additions. And it;s great to have new people now that we've lost others. So I don’t necessarily feel like I’m the only female lead. There’s a lot of people involved." 

    Here are all of the new characters to look forward to...

    According to MTV News, Malese Jow (The Flash, The Vampire Diaries) has joined the Shannara Chronicles Season 2 cast as Mareth, a "volatile and unpredictable" young woman with magical powers who will help Wil find his way back to his friends and escape The Crimson. "Sharp, brash, and independent to a fault," Mareth knows how to get what she wants.

    Also joining the cast is Vanessa Morgan (Finding Carter) as Lyria, a young woman romatically linked to Eretria. Nice to see Eretria getting some love, especially amongst all of the danger and mayhem it sounds like we're in for in Season 2.

    Speaking to Hypable about the same sex relationship between Erertia and Lyria, Baquero said:

    What I love about the show is that [sexuality] is so natural. It's not even a thing. It's normalized and it's great. I think if anything there would be more of an issue if she were to go out with an Elf, because of the elitism and the difference in class ...

    It's not something that is frowned upon by anyone. It's what it is. It's been normalized. I think that's great and I hope it reflects the future in a way. Crossed fingers.

    Gentry White (UnReal) will play Garet, the "wise-cracking Weapons Master of the Four Lands." Garet is a bounty hunter, "skilled, sly, and charismatic," it sounds like Garet could add some comedic elements to Season 2.

    Caaroline Chikezie (Everly) will play Queen Tamlin, "the powerful and cunning ruler of Leah," and the only human kingdom in The Four Lands. Queen Tamlin is a ruthless weapons manufacturer who uses her royal clout to make a political alliance with the elves. Ambitious lady.

    Desmond Chiam (Bones) has been added to the Shannara Chronicles cast as General Riga, the leader of the extremist soldier group The Crimson. On a mission to wipe out all magic in the Four Lands, Rigam used to be a top dog in Eventine's army, but has had a major change of heart after watching his people slaughtered in the War of the Races and fighting the Dagda Mor in the War of the Forbidding. This guy does not like magic.

    Will Amberle Be Back in Shannara Chronicles Season 2?

    You may have noticed that Drayton's Amberle isn't on that cast list, but we're not ready to give up hope on her character's non-tree-form return just yet...

    Speaking to SciFiNow about the possible return of Amberle, Brooks teased:

    Yeah, actually, although you might wonder how, and I won’t tell you, but we gave some serious thought to that, and there was a lot of talk about bringing her back out of the tree and so forth, but I said 'No, she’s a tree [laughs], you can’t bring her back, that’s terrible storytelling, you have to find a different way.' So then I told them how they could do it, so we’ll see.

    But yeah, I think she’s signed on for another season or so, and she’ll back for that. I know that she probably wishes she’d gotten a different role, because she really liked the series, but her life was finite in that particular storyline.

    More recently, Brooks told Just Jared Jr. about a possible Amberle (or at least Poppy Drayton) return:

    I will say that once a chosen becomes the ellcrys tree, they are always the tree. You’ll just have to wait and see what happens... 

    Brooks also spoke about what season 2 might look like, particularly if the season will pick up where season 1 ends versus jumping ahead to the events of The Wishsong of Shannara...

    This is an interesting debate that’s ongoing. When I first saw this I thought, 'Well, we should just move on and do a whole new season that involves the next book and forget about this season.' But of course MTV said, 'Are you crazy? We’re building fan support for these actors, we can’t boot them out of there and bring all-new people in!' And I said, 'Well, they could be the same characters, just the children or whatever…' that didn’t work.

    It became clear that they were going to build the story around the actors they have right now, and that was going to be the thrust of the story no matter what. But they are free to remove elements from other books, and I think they will do that. They’ve already been talking about Wishsong and using bits and pieces or large chunks of that storyline and building around the characters they already have, which isn’t too difficult to do. So that’s what they will do. What shows tend to do when adapting books is do the first season and then go off in different directions, so I forsee my duty as being to help them get there in the best way possible.

    Shannara Chronicles Season 2 Synopsis

    MTV also released an official synopsis for the new season of The Shannara Chronicles...

    A year after the events of last season, The Four Lands is in chaos. The re-emergence of magic has the populace terrified, and an organization called The Crimson is hunting down magic users, using fear and intimidation to sow discord among the races.

    Wil, scarred by the loss of Amberle and his separation from Eretria, has turned his back on his magical destiny to become a healer. But when a mysterious woman named Mareth saves Wil from a Crimson attack, he is forced to rejoin the fight.

    After reuniting with Eretria, Wil and Mareth seek out Allanon, only to learn that the Druid’s former protégé, Bandon, is on a mission to resurrect a creature of darkest evil: The Warlock Lord. Together, our heroes must band together to take down The Crimson and prevent Bandon from unleashing an even greater threat upon the Four Lands, before it’s too late.

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    When will we see Deadpool 2, the Gambit movie, X-Men 7, X-Force, or New Mutants? We have your upcoming X-Men movies schedule right here.

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    Jun 30, 2017

    Now updated with official release dates for Deadpool 2, New Mutants, and X-Men: Dark Phoenix as well as reserved dates for six more untitled movies!

    20th Century Fox has a Marvel superhero movie schedule that’s quite nearly as busy as Marvel Studios’ for the next few years. Even with the failure of the FantasticFour, they've got enough X-Men characters to keep everyone neck deep in mutants until further notice. 

    Deadpool was a runaway success for the studio in 2016, and Logan followed in that movie's edgy footsteps. New Mutants and Deadpool 2 are now in production, with X-Men: Dark Phoenix to follow any minute. 

    Watch X-Men movies on Amazon

    While 2018 looks like it's going to be a very busy year for all our favorite mutants, the studio has even bigger plans for the future, as they just locked up SIX more dates for untitled Marvel movies over the next few years. While there's always a chance one of these could end up being another shot at Fantastic Four, for now, let's just assume they're all X-Men related. Exhibitor Relations first reported these new dates.

    Here they are:

    June 7, 2019

    Nov. 22, 2019

    March 13, 2020

    June 26, 2020

    Oct. 2, 2020

    March 5, 2021

    Let's get to work...on the ones we know about, or are at least pretty sure about.

    The New Mutants 

    April 13, 2018

    Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) is directing the New Mutants movie. Boone will also co-write the film with Knate Gawley, Scott Neustadter, and Michael H. Weber. This has just entered pre-production.   

    The New Mutants were the first of Marvel's X-Men spinoffs in the comics, dealing with a younger crop of gifted youngsters as the core X-Men cast expanded and aged. Danielle Moonstar, Wolfsbane, Sunspot, Cannonball, Magik, and Warlock will all be part of the team, making for a more racially diverse cast than we've seen in most X-Men movies so far.

    Learn more about the New Mutants right here!

    Deadpool 2

    June 1, 2018

    Josh Brolin has just been cast as Cable, so that's a pretty big deal. Drew Goddard is helping out with the script, too, which is a good thing. And it's going into production within the next month or so.

    The first Deadpool movie did amazing business in February with an R-rating, so this should really cook with that June release date.

    Watch Deadpool on Amazon

    X-Men: Dark Phoenix

    November 2, 2018

    Little is known about this at the moment but the title sure reveals a lot, doesn't it? This would be the proper X-Men 7 that New Mutants most certainly is not. Simon Kinberg is probably going to direct this one. 

    We've written extensively about why doing the Dark Phoenix saga properly on screen is a good idea right here.

    And then there are all these mystery dates...

    February 14, 2019

    June 7, 2019

    Nov. 22, 2019

    March 13, 2020

    June 26, 2020

    Oct. 2, 2020

    March 5, 2021

    There are really only a few possibilities here (other than the inevitable Deadpool 3)...


    With Logan marking the last time Hugh Jackman will play Wolverine, the X-Men films are bound to find themselves in dire need of a new heroic "face of the franchise" some time in the next five years, and Channing Tatum as Gambit might just be the answer.

    A proven box-office draw like Tatum playing a sly, shady X-Man might be the way to go. Gambit's complex backstory should provide ample fodder for a solo movie, which will apparently focus less on traditional superheroics and more on his background as a thief. Everyone loves Deadpool, but clearly he (the character, not Ryan Reynolds) doesn't have the leading man looks of a Channing Tatum. Lea Seydoux will likely play opposite Tatum as Bella Donna.

    Of course, the big problem here is that Gambit recently lost director Doug Liman, and there is continual chatter that they haven't even gotten the script right yet. Not to mention the fact that they keep moving this troubled project off various release dates. We're sure it will happen eventually, but whether it still involves Liman, Tatum, or Seydoux when it does is another story.


    Jeff Wadlow’s early X-Force draft was met with vocal approval from X-Force co-creator, Rob Liefeld. The above concept art comes from that era of the film's development. The problem is, Mr. Wadlow is no longer involved in this one, but Joe Carnahan just came on board to write a script, and that guy knows action movies. 

    We're going to first meet Cable in Deadpool 2, which will also introduce Zazie Beetz as another X-Force member, Domino. It's possible that X-Force could essentially function as Deadpool 3 if they decide to pursue the same tone.

    Don't expect this one until at least 2019.

    What do you think? What else do you think can make it onto the X-Men movie calendar? Let us know!

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    Eventually, Marvel will get around to making Captain America 4, and these are the villains who should give Cap a headache.

    The Lists Marc Buxton
    Jun 30, 2017

    The Red Skull, Batroc the Leaper, Crossbones, Hydra, Zemo. Fans have seen film versions of some of Captain America’s greatest foes, but not all of them...not by a long shot. There are still plenty of villains left to plague Cap’s film world, villains from other dimensions and from the mists of past wars, as well as villains ripped from today’s headlines.

    Here are some villains that need film time to prove to the world why Cap, the only man that can hope to stop these despots, killers, and monsters, is the greatest patriotic hero of all. Here's hoping for Captain America 4...

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    First appearance: Captain America #218 (1978)

    Created by Don Glut and Sal Buscema

    Ok, what would be cooler than a twenty-foot tall version of Captain America (as played by Chris Evans) messing shit up in the next Cap film? A twenty-foot tall Chris Evans? C’mon, ladies!

    Ameridroid makes the sacred into the profane. He's a giant robot version of America’s greatest hero controlled by the mind of a Nazi scientist. That’s right; this titanic symbol of patriotism is controlled by Nazi genius and all around d-bag Lyle Dekker. Listen, Ed Brubaker managed to make the Ameridroid work, so it isn’t as silly as it seems.

    Twenty foot tall Cap! The shield is huge! Like a flying saucer! No? Okay, moving on...

    Primus and Doughboy

    First appearance: Captain America #209 (1977)

    Created by Jack Kirby

    Maybe not as a film’s main antagonists, but Primus and his shape shifting powers along with the prehensile Doughboy would make these insane androids killer soldier villains for any upcoming Captain America sequel. Primus has the ability to bend his putty-like form into anybody, which could give a film an edge of paranoia...a one man Skrull if you will.

    Primus can be the primary weapon of Arnim Zola if Marvel ever decides to make Zola the A-list villain Jack Kirby created in the Bronze Age. Doughboy and Primus could combine into a powerful monstrosity, which would make life pretty miserable for Cap as he tried to bring down Zola in the modern day.


    First appearance: Captain America #386 (1991)

    Created by Mark Gruenwald and Rik Levins

    She went one on one with Carol Danvers, she’s a polymath and a criminal genius, she’s one of Captain America’s most motivated foes...she is Superia. Superia once tried to sterilize every woman on Earth so her and her crew of Femizons could be the only women left with reproductive capabilities. That’s really nasty, man.

    Superia has a long career as one of the coldest blooded women in the Marvel Universe, and like the Red Skull’s daughter Sin (more on her soon), she would make a great first time cinematic lethal lady. Superia may not have enough history to make a main antagonist, but as a soldier of Sin or Baron Zemo (you know he'll be back), she could really work.

    Plus, the word Femizons is just too awesome not to use in a movie.

    Plan Chu

    First Appearance: Yellow Claw #1 (1956)

    Created by Al Feldstein and Joe Maneely

    Marvel Studios would have to be very careful with this archaic villain, but by calling him by his real name, Plan Chu, they can explore one of their greatest pre-Silver Age villains. The modern day masterpiece, Agents of Atlas, made Plan Chu work in a modern context, and by following that lead, Marvel Studios can have a historically rich villain threaten Cap’s film world.

    A battle between Cap and Claw would be man out of time versus man out of time as the greatest hero of World War II would face off against the greatest threat of the Cold War. The Claw has employed ex-Nazi agents in the past and was a constant threat in Marvel’s Silver Age. With some sensitive reimaginings; the Claw could be a menacing modern day threat to Cap and company.

    Batroc’s Brigade

    First Appearance: Captain America #105 (1968)

    More Batroc is always a good thing. Considering Ze Leaper survived the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there is no doubt going to be a fan uprising for the triumphant return of Cap’s most French (actually, he's Algerian) foe (well, at least at Den of Geek there will be).

    There have been a number of iterations of Batroc’s Brigade. The first being Batroc, the Swordsman, and the Living Laser, which never made much sense since the Living Laser is more powerful than Batroc by a wide margin, but whatever the case, how cool would a film version of the Swordsman be?

    The second version of Batroc’s Brigade consisted of the mustachioed savate master, Porcupine, and Whirlwind. Yeah, that’s unlikely, but Marvel putting the Porcupine on the big screen before DC got to Brainiac or Darkseid would certainly give the House of Ideas bragging rights.

    Finally, the third version of the villainous team was Batroc, Zaran, and Machete, a team that made much more sense since Batroc’s losers, ahem; colleagues, were less capable than their leader. This would be awesome. Or maybe just in my own head, but it would still be awesome, je ne sais pas?


    First appearance: (as Starr Saxon) Daredevil #49 (1969), (as Mister Fear) Daredevil #54, (as Machinesmith) Marvel Two-in-One #47

    Created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan

    Machinesmith was once the Daredevil villain Starr Saxon until he transformed himself into a cybernetic organism. The robot-maker turned robot would be a perfect villain for the modern age. As Steve Rogers continues to learn modern technology, the one foe he would have trouble facing would be a master of machines that Steve’s anachronistic mind would have trouble wrapping his head around.

    Themes of techno fear would be a perfect area for a new Cap film to explore, plus, in the comics, Machinesmith has worked for the Red Skull many times in the past so he can easily be integrated into the films. He’s the internet troll that can reach out of the computer and strangle you, and he would be a great modern challenge for Cap.

    The Red Guardian

    First appearance: Avengers #43 (1967)

    Created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema

    This was hinted at pretty strongly between the lines in Captain America: Civil War. The tale of Alexei Shostakov mirrors that of Steve Rogers. Hand picked by his government, Alexei became the living embodiment of his beloved country. A film that utilized the Red Guardian could ask the question what use is a patriotic hero if the country he symbolizes has fallen? 

    Master Man

    First appearance Giant-Size Invaders #1 (1975)

    Created by Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins

    What greater challenge for Cap than a Nazi superman?

    Master Man plagued the Invaders during the dark days of World War II. Along with Warrior Woman, U-Man, Brain Drain, and Sky Shark, Master Man was part of the Third Reich’s answer to the Invaders and could be a good multi-generational threat for Cap. John Byrne created a modern Master Man in the pages of Namor, the Sub-Mariner, so Marvel Studios has a few options to choose from if they go the route of Marvel’s most notorious ubermensch.

    Master Man was supposed to be the first true member of Hitler’s master race until Cap and the Invaders defeated him. Could there be a Master Man in Marvel’s cinematic world, and if so, what if he somehow ended up in the contemporary world to pick up the Axis’s plan to conquer the world? Cap is at his best when combating Nazis, and Master Man is the ultimate goose stepper.

    Madame Hydra

    First appearance: Captain America #110 (1969)

    Created by Jim Steranko

    Like Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, Madame Hydra, aka, the Viper, can be another double dip character for Marvel and Fox. Of course, the Viper figured prominently in The Wolverine, but the serpentine fatale is also a leader of the modern day version of HYDRA, the evil organization founded by the Red Skull. Since pockets of HYDRA still exist in the modern world (see Avengers: Age of Ultron), it stands to reason that so does Madame Hydra.

    Marvel doesn’t have to call her the Viper, but the green tressed vixen has been a major Cap foe for decades and as such deserves her time in the sun. Not many villains are evil enough for two separate franchises, but the Viper’s cunning will and deadly beauty make her adaptable enough to take on any hero, for any studio.

    The Sleeper

    First appearance: Captain America #101 (1968)

    Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

    A remnant of the Nazi Empire, the Sleeper was the most powerful of four robots hidden by the Nazis and the Red Skull to awaken in the modern world to continue the reign of the Third Reich. Who doesn’t love giant robots? What’s more badass than giant Nazi robots? The inclusion of the Sleeper and his robotic brethren could be Marvel meets Pacific Rim with Cap and SHIELD desperately trying to stop the advance of seig-heiling mechs.

    The Sleeper and the other Nazi robots were some of Jack Kirby’s coolest designs of the Silver Age, and seeing them come to life on the big screen would be old schools fans’ dream come true. Plus, the Sleeper has a deep connection to the legacy of the Red Skull which could keep the Cap versus Skull conflict going past the battlefields of World War II.

    Scourge of the Underworld

    First appearance: Iron Man #194 (1985)

    Created by Mark Gruenwald and John Byrne

    Perhaps the villain featured in the fourth Captain America film could be something thematically different? In the previous films, Cap has protected the innocent from despots and would be world conquerors...what better way to put Cap’s morality to the test by having him protect the corrupt?

    Scourge was a Punisher-like vigilante who killed costumed criminals. His signature catch phrase “Justice is Served,” was heard while Scourge dispatched many costumed baddies before Cap stopped his killing spree. The idea of justice versus vengeance could fuel a powerful movie as Cap tries to make sure that there is really “Justice for All” in his America by being forced to defend the villains Scourge wants dead.

    Scourge stands as an antithesis to Cap, a man who does not believe in any system, just his own idea of right and wrong. This exploration in the contrasts between a killer and a protector would make for a fascinating movie.

    The Secret Empire

    First appearance: Tales to Astonish #81 (1966)

    Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

    Who doesn’t like evil subversive puppet masters? The Empire has evolved into Marvel’s go-to hooded organization of nefarious intent. The Secret Empire can play off modern conspiracy paranoia, a nightmarish version of government gone horribly wrong. In fact, it was the Secret Empire that made Steve Rogers quit being Captain America for a time (sound familiar?).

    In the comics, as written by Steve Englehart, it was strongly suggested that the leader of the Empire, called Number One, was actually the President of the United States. Rogers was so disillusioned by this he shed his red-white-and blue identity and became Nomad, a man without a country. With the political divide greater than ever in the U.S., now would be a perfect time to bust out a film version of the Secret Empire to challenge modern ideas of patriotism.


    First Appearance: Captain America #335 (1987)

    Created by Mark Gruenwald and Tom Morgan

    The Watchdogs would be a pretty gutsy, politically charged choice for future Captain America villains, and the right wing terrorist group does play a major role in Cap history. It was the Watchdogs, fueled by racist extremism, who murdered the parents of John Walker when the hero now known as U.S. Agent was Captain America. This caused Walker to lose his already loose grip on sanity and kill the men responsible for his parents’ deaths.

    Come to think of it, how great would a film adaptation of The Captain/U.S. Agent saga be? Seeing Steve Rogers shed his identity and become disillusioned with his country would have just as profound an impact on film as it did in comics, and boy, would we love to see a big screen version of Walker’s Cap. All of it fueled by the hateful, right wing Watchdogs, a group that any right thinking fan would pay to see get taken down by any version of Captain America.

    Serpent Society

    First Appearance: Captain America #310 (1985)

    The Serpent Society was a trade union of sorts for costumed villains with snake identities (which would actually be an awesome idea for DC to crib, but with gorillas). The Society, led by the teleporting Sidewinder, provided story fuel for Captain America throughout the late '80s and well into the '90s. Sidewinder is a kind of honorable villain who would be fascinating to see realized on screen.

    Eventually, the Society was taken over by the Cobra, a classic Marvel villain that is also overdue for a media debut. Marvel Studios has not gone the route of a super-villain team yet, and the Society is filled to the brim with villains with interesting powers and looks that could easily fill a toy aisle. Diamondback, a beautiful and deadly member of the Squad, eventually turns on her serpentine brethren because she falls in love with Cap, a story cue that could come across great on screen.

    Any Marvelite worth his salt would love to see Anaconda, Copperhead, Bushwacker, Asp, and the silent but deadly (calling Ray Park) Death Adder fully realized on screen. An all out war between Cap, SHIELD, Falcon, and perhaps the Winter Soldier versus a huge Serpent Society could really make hissssssstory. Sorry.

    Flag Smasher

    First appearance: Captain America #312 (1985)

    Created by Mark Gruenwald and Paul Neary

    Flag Smasher was the anti-patriot, a perfect mirror image of Captain America’s pride in his country. Flag Smasher didn't believe in borders or symbols of national pride, he only believed in self serving anarchy, and with his likeminded cult, ULTIMATUM, Flag Smasher was one of Cap’s most persistent foes of the '80s.

    ULTIMATUM was funded by the Red Skull so there’s your connection to previous films, and any bad guy that uses assault weapons and a mace is a villain we want to see prominently featured in a movie.


    First appearance: Tales of Suspense #93 (1967)

    Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee

    He might not strike the same tone as the other cinematic Cap villains, but who wouldn’t want to see Chris Evans go toe-to-ummm...forehead with MODOK? The perfect soldier versus a giant head in a floaty chair would certainly make for a compelling visual, but on a more serious note, with MODOK, Marvel would be able to continue the evolution of AIM after the death of founder Eldritch Killian in Iron Man 3.

    AIM has always been second only to HYDRA as Marvel’s go-to evil organization, and by introducing their very memorable leader, Marvel could bring AIM to the forefront of evildom. The Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing would certainly be an attention getter but also offer a nice contrast to the genetically flawless Captain America, creating a man versus monster conflict for the ages.

    And seriously, giant floating head, what’s not to love?


    First appearance: Avengers #195 (1980)

    Created by David Michelinie and George Pérez

    One of the few men in the Marvel Universe that is a physical match for Cap, a film appearance from the mercenary with the photographic reflexes is long overdue. How cool would a Taskmaster/Cap fight be on the silver screen with Taskmaster mimicking every one of Cap’s moves, fist versus fist, shield versus shield?

    Taskmaster can come equipped with all of the Avengers signature gear like Iron Man’s repulsors, Black Widow’s stingers, and Hawkeye’s bow to become an all-in-one Avengers team to go one-on-one with Cap. Taskmaster could be played as an anti-hero or a straight out soldier villain. Either way, there would be a cleanup needed in the pants of many fans at the mere idea of seeing a film version of Taskmaster.

    Communist Red Skull

    First Appearance: Captain America Comics #61 (1947)

    Created by Stan Lee and Al Avinson

    A Soviet operative of the Cold War, Albert Malik took up the identity of the Red Skull to further spread the power of his Red masters. A film version of Malik would be able to replace the iconic Nazi scientist so brilliantly played by Hugo Weaving.

    If Marvel doesn't want to bring Nazi Red Skull back, or Weaving doesn’t want to return, the man that carried the Skull’s legacy of evil through the '50s and '60s would be a perfect film villain. A Red Skull dedicated to bringing back the glory days of Soviet Russia could be a stark reminder to Steve Rogers of how much international turmoil he missed when he was on ice.

    The Communist Skull even had a role in the modern era, as, for a time he was secretly a U.S. Senator until Cap brought him down. Like Cap, the evil of the Skull is a legacy that can be carried into future films by the commie spy, saboteur, and mastermind, Albert Malik.

    Hate Monger

    First appearance: Fantastic Four vol. 1 #21 (1963)

    Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

    Ok, he’s freakin’ Hitler. Who wouldn’t want to see Captain America kick the bratwurst out of a clone of Adolf Hitler?

    All joking aside, Hate Monger is a really intense villain and one of the scariest foes Cap ever went up against. The Hate Monger has the power to force others to be filled with hatred, this on-the-nose symbolism might not be subtle, but it makes for a darn effective villain. Captain America was built to take down Hitler, and what would be more gripping than Cap versus Hitler in the modern day?

    Marvel would have to tread carefully with this one, but the prospects of a film version of the Hate Monger could be one of Marvel’s most daring moves. In Captain America’s very first comic, Cap is rendered punching Hitler right in his hateful mug. This classic moment of the Golden Age could be recreated in the next Captain America movie with Steve Rogers trying to silence the hate speak of history’s most repellant villain.


    First appearance: Captain America #290 (1984)

    Created by J.M. DeMatteis and Paul Neary

    If Marvel doesn't find some clever way to bring back Johann Schmidt, then the legacy of the Red Skull could live on in Sin, the daughter of Cap’s greatest foe. Sin played a major role in Ed Brubaker’s great run on Captain America, which inspired Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

    Sin also has a deep connection to Asgardian magic as she once captured a number of mystical hammers to fuel her neo-Nazi army. A film combining Norse mythology with the continuing conflict of Captain America and the Red Skull would be pretty cool to see. There is a great deal of evil in Sin that Marvel could farm for a future installment of Captain America, evil that could keep the name of the Red Skull alive.

    The Grand Director/William Burnside

    First Appearance: Captain America #153 (1972)

    Created by (as "Captain America") Steve Englehart and Sal Buscema, (as The Grand Director) Roger McKenzie and Jim Shooter

    While the Grand Director sounds like something James Cameron would force his DP’s to call him, it is actually the title taken by a man who tainted the legacy of Captain America more than any of Steve Rogers’ enemies.

    William Burnside was the Captain America of the 1950s, the man who took over the suit and shield when Rogers was a Capsicle. Burnside was set up with the Steve Rogers’ identity and fought the Red Menace of the '50s. Eventually, Burnside, and his Bucky, Jack Monroe, were slowly driven insane by the experimental serum in their blood. They were put in suspended animation and awoken in the modern day.

    Here’s where things get dicey. Dr. Faustus brainwashed the already angry and vulnerable Burnside, and the former hero becomes the white supremacist leader the Grand Director.

    Now, what could be a more effective film villain than a Cap gone wrong, a Cap so corrupted by his own inner demons and machinations of others that he adopts Nazi ideology? Burnside’s tragic story is made for film, but we’ll have to wait and see to if Marvel picks this low hanging fruit of villainy.

    Baron Blood

    First Appearance: Invaders #7 (1976)

    Created by Roy Thomas & Frank Robbins

    What could be cooler than Cap versus a Nazi vampire? Really, not a whole heck of a lot.

    The legacy of the vampiric Baron Blood stretches back to World War II, so once again, Marvel could tie this bloodsucking baddie to Cap’s earliest days. Blood, like any good vampire is, of course, immortal, and can be used in the modern day to reintroduce a nightmare from Steve Rogers’ past.

    Blood is one of Cap’s most vile foes, a breeding of repugnant politics and supernatural evil. He is a classic monster in every sense of the word and could serve as the de facto Dracula of the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe (because let’s face it, we’re all going to be old and grey before Marvel Studios dares to attempt anything involving Dracula).

    Blood could also lead to the introduction to Cap’s fellow Invader, Union Jack, the British super-hero who has the misfortunate to be the Baron’s brother. More Golden Age heroes are always welcome, and it’s only a matter of time before vampires are introduced to Marvel’s films. But fear not, this vile vamp doesn’t sparkle.

    A version of this article first appeared in 2014. It has been updated with some new information.

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    We're tracking down every Marvel Universe reference and Easter egg in Captain America: Civil War, which is now on Netflix!

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    Jul 1, 2017

    This article consists of nothing but Captain America: Civil War spoilers. We have a spoiler free review here.

    As expected, Captain America: Civil War is absolutely packed with Marvel Comics references. I've tried my very best to get all of them in once place, but if I missed anything, let me know down in the comments or on Twitter, and I'll keep this updated! And now that it's out on Digital HD (as of September 2) it should be a little easier to spot all of the little things that we might have missed the first time around.

    Watch Captain America: Civil War on Amazon

    So, let's get going...

    - It's striking how much of this movie is still very much Captain America 3, despite how much of this is full of Avengers-related stuff. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a loose adaptation of the first year of Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting's time as the creative team on Captain America, and the core of this story, the redemption of Bucky Barnes still bears a lot of similarities to that.

    For one thing, the Brubaker and Epting comics, while firmly set in the present day, constantly deployed flashbacks to fill in the blanks of Bucky and Cap's history. So this movie's flashbacks to earlier time periods is kind of a spiritual successor to the comics.

    Civil War Comics vs. The Movie

    - So, let's start with the most obvious thing here. Captain America: Civil War is loosely based on Civil War, a comic book story by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. I say "loosely based" because really, it is. All these two have in common is the idea of government regulation of superheroes and a divide ultimately led by Captain America and Iron Man.

    "The Sokovia Accords" refer to the catastrophic events from the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. No matter how many folks the Avengers saved there, the cost in damage and human life was astounding...not to mention the PR disaster that "AI created by a superhero tried to destroy the world by dropping a country on it from orbit" must be.

    Really, the damn gub'mint will just look for any excuse to pass laws restricting freedom, won't they? Anyway...

    In the comics, the inciting event was more small of a local concern, not an international one. In that case it was the destruction of a town by an errant group of well-meaning but dumb low-level superheroes filming a reality show. What both versions of the story have in common is that someone exploded, taking a bunch of innocents with them.

    What caused the split between the heroes in the comics was that the plan was to get everyone to register their real identities with the government so that they could be organized and monitored. Tony Stark went along with it pretty readily, Steve Rogers did not. 

    I can safely say that the movie illustrated this split and the reasoning behind it far more elegantly than the comics ever did.

    - It's also interesting that one of the clauses of the Sokovia Accords is that the Avengers would become a UN sanctioned operation. For many years in the comics, the Avengers did indeed have a UN sanction, although they mostly operated as an independent body. It sounds like things would be a bit more restrictive here.

    - Alfre Woodard's character is identified only as "Miriam" in the movie, but this is Miriam Sharpe. As in the comics, Miriam lost a child because of the aforementioned exploding superhero misadventures. However, the Miriam of the comics leads a very public (and tacky) crusade in the media, while here, she just makes a more quiet and dignified statement to Tony Stark. Again, better than the comics.

    - When Clint Barton starts giving Tony shit about being "the great futurist" that's kind of making fun of some dialogue from the New Avengers: Illuminatiissue that set up the events of Civil War. Essentially, Tony went on and on about being a "futurist" and that's why he knew a law would be passed making life for superheroes difficult. It was some tortured nonsense comic book dialogue, and good on this movie for making fun of it in a low key way.

    It has also been pointed out to me by ACE and Drume in the comments that Robert Downey Jr. put out a music album in 2004 with the title "The Futurist."It's available on Spotify.

    - The whole chopper escape scene did faintly remind me of this scene from the comics, though...

    But far more on-the-nose was that scene during the final Steve/Tony throwdown, where we finally see what happens when repulsors at full power meet a shield that's made of a vibranium/adamantium (what? I'm allowed to say the a-word here even if Marvel isn't on screen!) alloy!

    That came from the cover of Civil War#7, the final chapter of the comic.

    Captain America: Civil War Heroes

    We meet two crucial new heroes in this movie, although really, one of 'em is plenty familiar.

    Who is the Black Panther?

    - Black Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Panther's debut came right in the sweet spot of what is absolutely the pinnacle of the Lee/Kirby collaboration, and he was by far the most high profile black comic book character ever created at the time. The version of Black Panther we meet in this movie is plenty faithful to the spirit of the original, so that's pretty cool.

    T'Challa has become an essential piece of greater Marvel mythology, and we wrote more about some of the amazing work Jack Kirby did with the character right here.

    - The implication should be that King T'Chaka was also once the Black Panther in his youth. They don't really touch too much on the line of succession for the Panther, but I expect we'll get much more of that in his own movie.

    - I'm pretty sure that the bald Wakandan badass lady who threatens Black Widow is supposed to be a member of the Dora Milaje, the all-female Wakandan royal guard.

    - Speaking of Wakanda, that's where we are in that first post-credits scene. Wakanda's technology is far ahead of the rest of the world's, so if anyone can "cure" Bucky, it's them.

    I'm including this next entry so close to T'Challa because it involves the only comic you're likely to read about him in...

    - Martin Freeman's Everett Ross has been kicking around the government of the Marvel Universe since Ka-Zar #17 in 1998. You don't need to know anything about that, though. What's more important (and relevant to his portrayal in this movie) is his appearance in Reginald Hudlin and John Romita Jr.'s take on The Black Panther series from 2005. That's a fun read, and a solid introduction to T'Challa's world, with Everett Ross kind of acting as your personal guide to Black Panther. See also: The Black Pantherseries by Christopher Priest and others which preceeded that one, which is said to be a massive influence on the upcoming film.

    I wrote a little more about Black Panther (and Spidey) in this other article just dedicated to the post-credits scenes.

    Spider-Man in Civil War

    - Spider-Man first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 back in 1962, where he was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko (possibly with an assist from Jack Kirby). Seriously, at this point, Spider-Man has been the face of Marvel as an entity for about five decades, and I'm pretty sure that nobody reading this needs anything in the way of additional explanation, do they? Of course they don't.

    But what's extra cool about this Spidey is it's the first time we've had a properly motormouthed, nervous energy Spidey on the big screen. Tom Holland also very much looks the part of a 15 year old who only just got powers. Spidey's dialogue (and the Peter/Tony banter) sounds like it came right out of the pages of a recent Brian Michael Bendis or Dan Slott comic.

    - I do kind of wish we had gotten a better look at the homemade Spider-Man costume that Peter was running around in before Stark gave him the new outfit. I love low budget Spider-Man costumes. Those goggles were pretty cool.

    - Tony's "surprise" that May is Peter's Aunt and her amused "well, we come in all shapes and sizes" is kind of a sideswipe at the internet's "surprise" that someone as young and attractive as Marisa Tomei would play the traditionally elderly May Parker.

    - In a roundabout way, it does kind of make sense for this to be the movie that introduced Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Within the pages of Civil War, Tony Stark and Peter Parker did indeed share a bond, and Peter did come down on the side of the pro-registration movement while working for Tony. That version of Spidey was much older, with a married Peter Parker in his late 20s, who chose to publically reveal his secret identity in order to show his support for Tony Stark's side. 

    All of that ended up going away because comics are insane (and sometimes not very good) so there's no reason to think too hard about it.

    - In the post-credits scene, I'm not sure what the actual function of that red Spider-light thing is that comes out of Peter's web-shooter, but it sure does look a lot like the old "spider-signal" Spidey would shine to annoy criminals.

    The Other Avengers

    So, we learn a few neat things about the good guys on both Team Cap and Team Iron Man...

    - The revelation that Sharon Carter/Agent 13 is related to Peggy Carter wasn't a surprise to longtime fans. Cap and Sharon had a longstanding romance of their own in the comics, although it's even more complicated than what you see on the screen. You can learn a little bit more about that by clicking here...if you dare!

    - The Falcon naming his drone "Redwing" is no accident. In the comics, Sam Wilson keeps a pet falcon (a little obvious, I admit), and because of supervillain science shenanigans (comics!) the two share a kind of psychic bond that allows the actual falcon to act as Sam's eyes and ears.

    The drone is easier, sure. But c' actual falcon!

    - Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that we'd see the first flowerings of a Vision/Scarlet Witch romance on the big screen, but here we are. Vision's flirtations with Wanda are definitely an indicator of what's to come for them, and I love that there are little elements of familiarity around, like how they call him "Viz."

    Seriously, sign me up for a spinoff starring these two. 

    - With lines like "I knew I should have stretched" this is the closest we've seen Hawkeye to the perpetually beat up and exhausted everyman that he was portrayed as in the absolutely essential, perfect, you need to read all of it right now Hawkeyecomic by Matt Fraction and David Aja.

    - I probably don't have to explain this to anyone, but the Pym Particles have also granted Ant-Man the ability to become, well, Giant Man. The Giant-Man identity is traditionally associated with Hank Pym not Scott Lang, but holy moley, aren't you happy you got to see that happen here? 

    - Speaking of Hawkeye and Ant-Man, can I just point out that we finally got to see this moment from the comics?

    - I owe a nice thank you to Kurt in the comments for this one...there is indeed comic book precedent for Rhodey needing cybernetic enhancements to continue functioning as a hero. It was a bit more gruesome in the comics (Rhodey was left a quadraplegic in the wake of a terrorist attack), but in the aftermath of the comic book Civil War, Rhodey ended up more of a cyborg than a man in a suit.

    - Mike Priest in the comments pointed out the similarities to Rhodey's injury to something else that happened in the Civil War comics, where Bill Foster/Goliath was killed by a cloned version of Thor. That's basically the moment that was used to illustrate how senseless having heroes fight each other was, much like Rhodey's moment was here.

    Captain America: Civil War Villains

    Alright, let's talk about the bad guys...

    - The Soviet officer in charge of programming the Winter Soldier for his missions is Vasily Karpov, who was introduced in the fifth issue of the Brubaker/Epting Cap comics. Now, that's a character with a name from the comics that we can pinpoint, but since the movie's maguffin is really a group of other "winter soldiers" it leads us to another point about these villains...

    - While they're never named, the fact that the other winter soldiers were under Karpov's control kind of indicates that they're supposed to be the Soviet Super Soldiers. Key among these would be Alexi Shostakov, the Red Guardian. While he's never actually named in the movie, I kind of figure that the jacked dark haired guy is the Marvel Cinematic Universe equivalent of the Red Guardian.

    It's never made explicit that these other winter soldiers are supposed to be Marvel's Soviet Super-Soldiers, but that's kind of how I feel about the whole thing. I'll be honest, I kind of wish they wouldn't have killed 'em all off like this, because that kind of grounded take on these characters could have made for a really cool Captain America 4 or something.

    UPDATE! Grant down in the comments says that the dark-haired bad guy is credited as "Josef," and there was indeed a Red Guardian named Josef Petkus. I haven't been able to verify the "Josef" thing myself yet (still need to go for another viewing), but if this is true, it pretty much confirms this whole Red Guardian/Soviet Super-Soldiers thing!

    Who is Crossbones?

    - You might remember ol' Brock Rumlow from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but here he is, in full-blown Crossbones gear. 

    Unlike his movie counterpart, though, Crossbones sprang fully-formed into supervillainy in the pages of Captain America #359-360. He was created by the writer who really kinda shaped the Captain America of my childhood, Mark Gruenwald, and Kieron Dwyer, who I consider to be one of the most underrated comic book artists of his time.

    Brock's first appearance, by the way, comes in a story called The Bloodstone Hunt, which is just a tremendously fun, dopey read. It's the height of 1980s Captain America comics craziness. Fans of the kind of colorful villains and over-the-top technology that the classic GI Joe cartoon was delivering would be in for a treat with this. Seriously, it's like if Cap and SHIELD are GI Joe and the villains are just COBRA cast-offs.

    I suppose it's a little bit of a bummer that another potential tie to the legacy of the Red Skull has been eliminated. Regardless, Crossbones is a quintessential soldier villain, and a fun piece of Cap history to have on screen, even as a minor character. It just adds to the whole authenticity of this being a Cap movie and all.

    Who is Zemo?

    - Daniel Bruhl's mysterious Baron Zemo is a little trickier, since he bears very little in the way of resemblance to his comic book counterpart, which is kind of a shame, because holy moley that comic book version of Zemo...

    Zemo first appeared unnamed in flashback in Avengers#4 in 1964, the same issue that brought Captain America into the present day. Y'see, it turns out that Cap and Bucky were on a mission at Zemo's castle when they caught the express train to suspended animation. Zemo then appeared properly in the pages of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #8 and made the rounds in the usual way that supervillains did in Marvel Comics during the '60s.

    But I have a rather personal attachment to Zemo, as the first Captain America comic I ever read was a vintage copy of Captain America #168, which introduced Zemo's son Helmut (then going by the name of "the Phoenix" ... not to be confused with the X-Men character). This comic, with its tale of how the elder (Heinrich) Zemo was an abusive ass since that dopey purple facemask was literally glued to his face by Adhesive X scared the crap out of me (I was an easily influenced child), and Zemo quickly became one of my favorite Marvel supervillains.

    Anyway, back on track...

    The version of Zemo we meet in the movie bears almost no resemblance to the former Nazi of the comics, although there's some indication that he isn't a particularly nice guy, despite his attachment to his family. Other than the name (and perhaps the accent) the only other real nod to the comic book Zemo is the mention of his father. He's not just avenging the death of his wife and son, but that of his Dad. And since this is Helmut Zemo, we can safely assume that his dad's name was Heinrich. Maybe his Dad was a dick, too. Who knows?

    We wrote much more about the history of Zemo right here.

    Random Stuff

    - The floating/submersible prison is referred to as "The Raft" and that's right out of Marvel Comics. Except in the comics, the Raft sits on NYC's East River, right near Ryker's Island. 

    The big screen version is a little more remote.

    There's a little bit of a parallel here to the prison that Tony Stark and Reed Richards built in the comic book version of Civil War to contain supervillains and non-compliant superheroes. The thing is, that prison actually stuck you in the Negative Zone, a concept presumably tied up at 20th Century Fox right now.

    - There doesn't appear to be a Marvel Comics parallel for the ill-fated Dr. Broussard, but I have to wonder if his name is a shout out to Stephen Broussard, a producer on Iron Man 3, Captain America: The First Avenger, and other Marvel projects.

    - Peggy Carter's comic book death (of old age) and funeral took place towards the end of Ed Brubaker's tenure as Captain America writer. It's available on Amazon in this volume if you're interested.

    - Tony amusingly refers to Bucky as "Manchurian Candidate" towards the end. The Manchurian Candidate was a novel by Richard Condon (which I've never read) but it's also an absurdly good 1962 Cold War thriller movie that starred Frank Sinatra. Totally worth your time. Jonathan Demme re-made it in 2004, but I never bothered with that one. I probably should get around to it since Demme is a good director, but for real, see the 1962 version.

    - Making General Ross into Secretary of State Ross is kind of a genius maneuver, and I suppose it's a reasonable evolution for the character who is traditionally the Hulk's least favorite pain-in-the-ass. It's worth noting that for a brief period in the comics, Tony Stark was Secretary of Defense. And Cap nearly ran for President. I would pay all the money to see either of those things happen in a future Marvel movie.

    - It looks to me that the Starks were transporting some kind of derivative of the super soldier formula on the night of that ill-fated car ride. The sharp-eyed C Moesta in the comments points out that the date of the Starks' death (via newspaper clipping) has been consistent since the first Iron Man movie. 

    - Also, the date of the Starks' death totally lines up with the "Stark death" headline we caught a glimpse of in Hydra's archives during Captain America: The Winter Soldier!

    - Did anyone else notice that the weird personal holding cell (what is this, The Blacklist?) that Bucky is kept in is designated D-23? D23 is Disney's annual fan convention, and it's probably where they're gonna start taking all their Marvel footage instead of San Diego soon.

    - This is brilliant, and I can't believe I missed it, but that's Jim Rash as the MIT guy hassling Tony for a piece of the September Grant. Rash is familiar to Russo Bros. diehards as Dean Pelton on Community. (thanks to Kevin Skinner of NYC's Crass Monkey for pointing this out)

    If I missed anything, let us know down in the comments or shout right at me on Twitter, and we'll keep updating this until it's complete!

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    Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Iron Fist and others will team up as The Defenders in 2017. Catch the latest news!

    NewsMike CecchiniJoseph Baxter
    Jun 22, 2017

    Marvel's master plan for teaming Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist (plus some members of their supporting casts) in The Defenders Netflix series is well underway, and we'll see it later this year. The Defenders showrunners are Douglas Petrie and Marco Ramirez (Daredevil Season 2), with Drew Goddard (Daredevil Season 1, The MartianLost) returning as executive producer. The Defenders is currently filming in New York City.

    The Defenders Latest News

    Netflix has released a new poster for The Defenders, showing the titular Marvel street level team in black-and-white, armed with unity and angry, badass countenances. While it doesn't exactly come with any notable revelations, it's still a cool and inspiring image that stokes the quickly-approaching August arrival of the monumental team-up series.

    The Defenders Trailer

    The first trailer is finally here!

    Huge points for appropriate use of Nirvana's "Come as You Are."

    We did a full breakdown and analysis of the trailer, which you can read by clicking here.

    We last saw Elektra in the concluding moments of Daredevil Season 2, when the volatile romance between her and Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock ended – in an inevitable spin on her classic comic book fate – with her apparent death during a clash with clandestine ninja criminal organization the Hand by returning rival Nobu Yoshioka (Peter Shinkoda). However, as we also saw, the Hand, with post-mortem interest in Elektra, dug her up and placed her body into a sacred sarcophagus to be reborn as their new leader the Black Sky. Relevantly, the new promo for The Defenders gives us a slight tease for the end result of that macabre process.

    Thus, while expectations for The Defenders would presumably have a resurrected Elektra pegged as an ally, we could find our heroes on the wrong side of her signature set of sais, at least, initially, anyway. Since the Hand played a major role in the last Marvel Netflix series Iron Fist, showcasing a shakeup in its leadership, it will be interesting to see how things play out in The Defenders, with Elektra as the Black Sky, along with Sigourney Weaver’s billed main villain, “Alexandra.”

    The Defenders Release Date

    A security footage-style teaser video titled "Midland Circle Security Elevator B" features street level MCU heroes in a blindfolded Daredevil, bullet-ridden hoodie-rocking Luke Cage, suit-sporting Iron Fist, and a camera-shy Jessica Jones awkwardly sharing an elevator and some obligatory Muzak. However, the time code in the upper-right ending with "08:18:20:17" divulged the long-awaited crucial bit of info.

    With that oblique move, Netflix has officially revealed that The Defenders will premiere on August 18, 2017.

    The Defenders Story

    It's not much, but it's all we've got right now...

    Marvel’s The Defenders follows Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. A quartet of singular heroes with one common goal - to save New York City. This is the story of four solitary figures, burdened with their own personal challenges, who realize they just might be stronger when teamed together.

    “Every one of them is following their own trail of bread crumbs, trying to unpack a mystery in New York,” showrunner Marco Ramirez told Entertainment Weekly. “We wanted them all caught off guard. Once they’re in that room together, it’s kind of like, ‘Oh, s—, who are you?'”

    The Defenders Photos

    Hit the gallery to see some official stills. 


    While we've already seen this team in the trailer, this new image of them suited up and ready to go, compliments of Empire, will still always be a treat.

    And how about this cool poster from Joe Quesada?

    You can also see a whole stack of set photos here.

    The Defenders Cast

    Charlie Cox will return as Matt Murdock/Daredevil, as will Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Finn Jones as Iron Fist, and Mike Colter as Luke Cage. Don't be surprised if some other characters we meet along the way join the party, like Jon Bernthal's Punisher. Expect supporting cast from each of their shows to at least make appearances, and that will likely include Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson.

    “We're incredibly excited to be able to bring our four street level heroes together in an epic tale woven by Doug and Marco whose work on Marvel’s Daredevil speaks for itself,” said Executive Producer/Head of Marvel Television, Jeph Loeb in a statement when the showrunners were announced in April 2016. "They write and produce not only great action and adventure, but also the heart and touch of humor that's makes us Marvel. With the inclusion of Drew Goddard, we've got a team that's as formidable as the Defenders themselves."

    “This is the big one. Four amazing casts, four amazing series, now all in one amazing story,” added showrunners and Executive Producers Douglas Petrie and Marco Ramirez. “We are thrilled at the opportunity to deliver the show that both we and the fans have been waiting for.”

    The first hero who isn't yet a headliner to be confirmed for the series is none other than Simone Missick's Misty Knight. “I believe I’m safe to say that I will be on The Defenders,” Simone Missick told The Wrap.

    Misty is a huge highlight of Marvel's Luke Cage Netflix series, so having her in The Defenders should be treat.

    The Defenders official Twitter account just keeps dropping casting bombs on us. The latest is that Elodie Yung will appear as Elektra. This show gets better by the day.

    They also confirmed that Jessica Henwick, who will first appear in Iron Fist, will reprise her role as Colleen Wing in the upcoming Defenders team-up series. Here's a brief snippet of Henwick kicking butt:

    The official Twitter account also confirmed what we already knew, that supporting characters from other Netflix shows like Luke CageJessica Jones, and Daredevil like Elden Hensen's Foggy Nelson, Deborah Ann Woll's Karen Page, Scott Glenn's Stick, Simone Missick's Misty Knight, and other will be part of the series.

    Join Amazon Prime - Watch Thousands of Movies & TV Shows Anytime - Start Free Trial Now

    And it doesn't look like we'll get Vincent D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk in this one, unfortunately.

    Marvel's The Defenders Netflix series will consist of eight episodes (the usual count for their assorted solo series if 13), and Marvel has announced the director of the first two episodes. S.J. Clarkson, whose credits include episodes of Jessica Jones, Vinyl, and Orange is The New Black will occupy the big chair for those crucial first two installments.

    “S.J.'s take on the material is outstanding. We loved her work on “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” and couldn’t think of a more talented and accomplished person to helm the first two episodes of Marvel’s The Defenders,” said Marvel’s Head of Television and Executive Producer, Jeph Loeb in a statement.

    The Defenders Villain

    Sigourney Weaver was announced as the antagonist to deafening applause on the NYCC Main Stage back in October. Since then details have been scarce...until now.

    Entertainment Weekly has our first look at Sigourney Weaver as the mystery antagonist of Marvel's The Defenders Netflix series, although this still doesn't tell us a whole lot. We know her name is "Alexandra" and that's all they're telling us. At least for the moment.

    Here's a photo of her in character, which marks the first official set photo we have from the series at all!

    “We knew it would take something massive to pull these four characters from their individual worlds to work together,” Defenders showrunner Marco Ramirez told EW, “but also small enough that it felt like it existed in our world.” Start your speculation engines, comic fans!

     Last month, Ms. Weaver spoke to a little about what to expect.

    "It has a wonderful cast, and we're doing it right here in New York, which means a lot to me...Basically the four heroes come up against this really nice woman, who I'm playing...It's been a blast and I really love my character. I love the shows, too, which I wasn't familiar with before doing this. A real love letter to New York. To me they're not superheroes; they're people with a gift. It's just a different scale, and I'm really enjoying the scale of it. The apocalyptic thing is a little harder for me to understand."

    EW also unveiled the first proper look at the team together:

    We'll update this with more information about The Defenders Netflix series as it becomes available.

    A version of this article originally ran on April 11th. It has been updated with new information.

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    Captain America 4 hasn't been confirmed by Marvel yet, but we all know it's coming. These stories should be considered.

    The Lists Marc Buxton
    Jul 2, 2017

    Captain America: Civil War was a bona fide smash, making the Captain Americatrilogy one of the most successful action adventure sagas in recent history. Starting with Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel has crafted three amazing films highlighting the adventures of Marvel’s purest hero, from the tale of Cap’s origins to the coming of the Winter Soldier to a Civil War, fans have been treated to three epics.

    Along the way, classic Cap villains like Arnim Zola, Baron Zemo, Batroc the Leaper, Crossbones, and the biggest, baddest Nazi of them all, the Red Skull have tested Captain America’s mettle. It seems like fans have seen it all.

    Not so fast, true believer! There is almost a century of great Cap stories that can still be adapted as the legend of Captain America continues to grow...

    “Secret Empire”

    Captain America #169-175 (1974)

    By Steve Englehart, Mike Friedrich, and Sal Buscema

    No not that one! The original!

    Secret Empire was published right in the middle of the Watergate scandal and was a true test of Captain America’s loyalties and patriotism. In this classic story, Cap must face down the Secret Empire, a cabal like group of masked power brokers who have infiltrated the American government on every level. Let’s face it, the current political situation in the US doesn't exactly scream of unity, and so many of the themes explored in this tale are as prevalent today as they were back in ’74.

    The Falcon and Black Panther both play pivotal roles in this saga and a few cool villains are utilized like the male version of Moonstone and the Tumbler. Okay, one cool villain, the Tumbler kind of stinks. I guess these days he would be some evil dude that posts fitspo memes constantly, but back in the day, he tumbled and was evil. Ass.

    I digress.

    In the same way Watergate tested the entire nation, the Secret Empire saga tested Cap’s sense of duty and patriotism. By the way, when the leader of the Secret Empire was unmasked, it was Richard Nixon. Yeah, the story goes there, plus, it has a super cool appearance by the X-Men.

    While a film could never include Marvel’s merry mutants, a few choice Avengers could potentially bring this politically charged saga to cinematic life. I think we know what taco bowl loving orange presidential candidate would be under the Secret Empire hood these days, don’t we?

    Buy the original Secret Empire on Amazon!

    The Roger Stern/John Byrne Era

    Captain America #247-255

    By Roger Stern and John Byrne (duh)

    It might have only lasted nine issues, but the Roger Stern and John Byrne issues of Captain America stand as some of the greatest Cap stories ever published, and packaged together this set of stories would make for one killer film. The opening issues introduce perennial Cap villain Machinesmith and also reunited Cap with his original uniform and shield. Captain America runs for president and after that bit of awesome, fans of the era were treated to the introduction of Baron Blood! Now, I think the world is ready to see Cap take on a murderous Nazi vampire, don’t you?

    Let that sink in, not just a vampire, a Nazi vampire.

    The same story that debuted Baron Blood also introduced the modern day Union Jack, and I don’t know about you, but I need to see a cinematic Union Jack before I’m six feet under. The Baron Blood tale bounces back and forth between World War II and the modern day and we need more flashbacks to Cap’s WWII adventures with the Howling Commandos...especially if they’re fighting vampires. There's also one of the best choreographed fight scenes in the history of Captain America as Cap engaged in an epic final battle with the siegheiling bloodsucker. Let’s just say Cap did Peter Cushing proud.

    These brief nine issues by Stern and Byrne are a freakin’ smorgasbord of awesome Cap moments just waiting to be exploited in future films. And I know I glossed over the whole Cap as President thing, but in this election year, Cap as President has a greater appeal than ever and I swear that will be my last political dig for this article.

    Kevin Feige, if you’re reading this: Nazi vampire! Why aren’t you green lighting this.

    Buy Captain America: Dawn's Early Light on Amazon!

    “Justice is Served”

    Captain America #318-320 (1986)

    By Mark Gruenwald and Paul Neary

    If you're a Cap fan of the '80s, the very name Scourge should send you into a tizzy of nostalgia. For those not in the know, Scourge was a masked vigilante that went around shooting Z-list villains across the Marvel Universe. Thanks to Scourge, Marvel fans no longer had to deal with asshats like Bluestreak, Captain Kraken, and the Rapier.

    In fact, in an unforgettable sequence in "Justice is Served," a metric ton of loser villains got Scourged in in a seedy bar. The whole thing could play out like a killer morality tale as Cap must protect the villains of the MCU from the bloodthirsty Scourge. It’s justice versus vengeance as Cap must protect a cadre of villains from a vigilante that doesn't believe in the American system of justice.

    "Captain America No More”

    Captain America #332-350 (1987-1989)

    By Mark Gruenwald, Kieron Dwyer, and Tom Morgan

    There can be no doubt that the late and greatly missed Mark Gruenwald was one of the greatest Cap scribes in history, and "Captain America No More" was his finest hour. In this tale, Gruenwald introduced John Walker, the Super Patriot, an intensely nationalistic conservative who protected his nation with an intense zeal.

    The US government wanted to gain control of Captain America because, after all, Steve Rogers was created by an experiment paid for and designed by Washington. Like he does in Civil War, Rogers refused government control and gave up his red white and blue uniform and shield. Instead, Rogers donned the black uniform of The Captain and continued his mission. Meanwhile, the government gave the Cap suit to Walker and a tale of two heroes played out.

    This story of a fractured American point of view is more poignant today than it was first told and Gruenwald’s conflict of idealism could be a perfect thematic sequel to Civil War. Of course, when this tale played out, Walker became the US Agent and who wouldn’t want to see that badass fighting American come to life on film?

    Truth: Red, White and Black (2003)

    By Robert Morales and Kyle Baker

    In 2003, Marvel embarked on one of its most ambitious projects to date, the introduction of the first Captain America, an African American Tuskegee airman named Isaiah Bradley. Bradley’s tale would be a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as he essentially could be portrayed as the super hero version of Jackie Robinson. The US government used Bradley as a guinea pig and injected him with an experimental dose of the super soldier serum.

    Imagine a film where Rogers has to unravel the mystery of Bradley in the modern day as the film flashes back to the airman’s WWII tale. Bradley’s story is an important one as it sets a foundation of diversity in the Marvel Universe. It is also incredibly open and honest about the treatment of the black soldiers of the greatest generation, men who were willing to sacrifice everything for the country that treated them with inequality or downright hatred.  

    It’s also about time the genius design work of Kyle Baker gets some film love!

    Buy Truth: Red, White, and Black on Amazon!

    “Red Menace”

    Captain America (Vol. 5) #15-17 (2006)

    By Ed Brubaker and Mike Perkins

    Yeah, Marvel indeed rules the world but it does have a miserable villain problem. Too many of Marvel’s film baddies arrive a bit stillborn. Red Menace was all about the villains as Ed Brubaker (yeah, Ed Brubaker, half of the Winter Soldier creative team) and Mike Perkins put the spotlight on the daughter of the Red Skull, the vile Sin.

    "Red Menace" was Natural Born Killers by way of Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko as Sin teamed up with perennial Cap baddy Crossbones. This tale told the origin of Sin and had juicy parts for Sharon Carter and the Falcon as Cap and his crew must put a stop to Sin and ‘bones’ spree of mayhem. There is still so much to explore in future Cap films as far as the legacy of the Red Skull is concerned, and this arc is a great way to push the evil of Johann Schmidt into the modern age and finally introduce a deadly female adversary into an Earth based Marvel cinematic adventure.

    Buy Red Menace on Amazon!

    Fear Itself

    By Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen

    It seems like any future Cap film will feature both Captain America and Bucky Barnes. Fear Itself was an intense Marvel crossover where both Steve and Bucky play central roles.

    In Fear Itself, Bucky wore the mantle of Captain America while Steve Rogers took on the position of the director of SHIELD. While a potential film could play fast and loss with this paradigm, Fear Itself is a sweeping epic steeped in Captain America lore. Sin, the aforementioned daughter of the Red Skull, is the central antagonist as she uses Asgardian magic to empower a number of Marvel villains. During the course of the tale, thanks to Sin’s machinations, the Hulk becomes Nul, an evil anti-Hulk that just looks awesome. Seriously, putting Nul in a film would be like a license to print merchandising money. All the major Marvel movie players play key roles in this story from Hulk to Natasha Romanov to Hawkeye to Falcon and so many more.

    Fear Itself is a story of American unity and perseverance that combines real world politics with Asgardian myths. Most importantly, it is an intense story that united Steve and Bucky to do what they do best: kick goose-stepping asses.

    Buy Fear Itself on Amazon!

    Sam Wilson: Captain America

    By Rick Remender, Stuart Immonen, Nick Spencer, and Daniel Acuna

    Marvel’s cinematic future is always based on the actors and whether they will return or not. And while we're not in any hurry to see Chris Evans hand over the shield, there's a long history of other brave soldiers who have donned the red, white, and blue raiment of Captain America.

    For example, currently, Cap readers have enjoyed a year and half of Sam Wilson as Cap, and it has been great! Wilson has always been a fascinating character, but now that the social justice Avenger has stepped out of the Falcon gear and into one of the most iconic uniforms in comics, it’s a whole new day for Sam Wilson. And it’s a day that could conceivably arrive in cinemas. 

    The films have been building Sam Wilson up as an A list hero since he raced Steve Rogers at the beginning of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the high flying Wilson could totally carry his own film. For the past year and a half or so, Marvel has been building the legacy of Sam Wilson, bringing in classic Cap villains to test the mettle of the new Star Spangled Avenger and as Marvel continues to build Wilson’s comic book cred, the way becomes clearer for Wilson making his film debut in the Cap threads. 

    Buy All-New Captain America Volume 1 on Amazon!

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    We look at the history of Spider-Man: Homecoming villain, the Shocker, a Marvel Universe C-lister who has made it to the big time.

    Feature Marc Buxton
    Jul 3, 2017

    When one thinks of the history of Spider-Man and his sinister assemblage of villains, one’s thoughts usually go to the big guns like Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Venom, Lizard, or even Kraven the Hunter (personally, I think of Stegron the Dinosaur Man, but that’s my own issue). One might even think of hardcore B-listers like Mysterio, Electro, Sandman, or Vulture. But one's focus certainly doesn’t turn to today’s Spidey villain of the hour: The Shocker. But that’s exactly who we’re here to discuss because Spider-Man’s vibrating bad guy will feature in Spider-Man: Homecoming as played by Bokeem Woodbine.

    Shocker’s inclusion is a bit surprising because he has always been more of a background villain, an also ran that has had a smattering of memorable appearances over the years. That being said, considering that Shocker is not a major Spider foe, all, it’s sort of amazing that the yellow suited crook has stuck around all these decades basically unchanged. And now, the day has come for this persistent Spidey rogue to make it to the big time!

    Shocker may have never been big league, but his creators certainly were. Shocker first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #46 (1967) and was created by Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr. and now that we’ve mentioned Mr. Romita, let’s just talk about the fact that Shocker is the most Romita thing of all things created by Romita. I mean, just look at that costume! The symmetry, the unique design, the way it offsets Spider-Man's own super hero geometry and colors! I think we can all agree that while Shocker won’t make the supervillain hall of fame, he has an absolutely eye popping costume.

    “Enough with the aesthetics,” I hear you say, as you ask “Who the hell is the Shocker?” Well, you know how some supervillains have origins so iconic that the history of that villain becomes embedded in the firmament of the Marvel Universe?

    The Shocker is not one of those villains.

    Shocker’s real name is Herman Schultz. Now unless it’s a Nazi, it’s really hard to take a villain named Herman seriously, but we digress. Schultz was a professional burglar until he got arrested. In prison, Hermie built himself a rig that allows him to shoot intense vibrations out of specially made gauntlets, which he promptly used to bust out of prison. Then he designed a specially padded suit to protect him from the force of his vibrations. As the Shocker, Herman went to toe to toe with Spider-Man and actually defeats the Webslinger! But in their second go around, Spidey defeated his yellow suited foe by webbing Shocker’s thumbs so the villain can’t press down on his gauntlets. Yes, essentially Spider-Man conquered Shocker by defeating him in thumb wrestling. This ignominious conquest was just the first of many as Shocker became something of a lovable loser in Spidey lore.

    And no, Stan Lee's didn't originally intend to call the Shocker "The Vibrator" instead. Yes, we know there's a v-pattern on the costume. Yes, we also know what "the shocker" means. Stop it.

    So with that out of the way, we turn to a few more memorable Shocker appearances. Don’t look for a Kraven the Hunter “Kraven’s Last Hunt” situation or a Doctor Octopus “Superior Spider-Man” situation, because Shocker never really had that career defining story arc. But most Shocker tales are just good fun, and here’s some of the good ones...

    The Shocker’s silliest but most ambitious plan came in Amazing Spider-Man #151-152 (1975-1976) by Len Wein and Ross Andru. In these issues, the Shocker takes over New York City’s electric grid to hold it for ransom. Herman’s big plan is to use the grid to spell his name out in lights. Spidey stops Shocker of course, but really Herman, you go through all that trouble for a million bucks and to spell your name out in electricity? Can’t you, like, sell your earthquake gloves to the military for way more than that?

    As for the Shocker’s powers, well... for a villain that never really went too far, he is kind of a powerhouse. Herman’s gauntlets produce a concentrated wave of compressed air that can be tuned to different vibrational frequencies. Shocker can take down skyscrapers if he chooses. In fact, Shocker’s weapons are so intense that they would kill him if he didn’t wear his distinctive quilt-like suit. So Shocker may be a bit of a joke at times, but his earthshattering powers are really nothing to laugh at. So now that Shocker is ready for his film debut, maybe he will finally take a step up in the super villain pantheon. But really, Herman, that whole spell your name out in lights thing is always going to be a black mark against you. Still, in the worlds of Hannibal Lecter, “Love your suit.”  

    All this silliness aside, for a semi-loser, Shocker has been part of many supervillain teams. At one time or another Shocker ran with the Sinister Six, the Masters of Evil, the Sinister Syndicate, the Thunderbolts, and the Villains for Hire. Don’t get too excited though, Shocker wasn’t part of Baron Zemo’s sick cool version of the Masters of Evil, Shocker joined an earlier incarnation of the team that boasted Radioactive Man, Tiger Shark, Moonstone, and the Beetle as members. This not-so-powerhouse version of the Masters was led by Egghead so yeah, not exactly the ’61 Yankees of villain teams there. But listen, Shocker was a member of the Thunderbolts and we here at Den of Geek love us some Thunderbolts so good on ya Herman! Also, in case you want to see Shocker run with the Masters of Evil, pick up Avengers #228 (1983) by Roger Stern and Al Milgrom.

    Shocker has popped up many times over the years fighting Spidey and other Marvel heroes, but his finest hour was in the absolutely must read Superior Foes of Spider-Man (2013-2014) series by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber. In this comic, Shocker joins with a gang of other C-list Spidey foes such as Boomerang, the female Beetle, Overdrive, and Speed Demon to get into all sorts of shenanigans around New York. Of this cadre of super dopes, Shocker is the most hapless of the lot and barely escapes the Superior Foe’s escapades with his life. Even his fellow villains have no respect for him until the conclusion of the series when Shocker takes down the Punisher (I’m not kidding) and is crowned the king of the New York underworld. Marvel never really followed up on that bit of business, but let me tell you something for free, Sony is looking for prospective properties to build a Spidey film universe. Superior Foes of Spider-Man would be a massive, runaway hit. It could be a Deadpool meets Oceans 11 type of thing.

    Sony, call me, we’ll talk.

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    An $80 million lawsuit between the Tolkien Estate and Warner Bros. over The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings is settled after five years.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Jul 3, 2017

    As a relieved Frodo exhaustedly declared after the One Ring was finally destroyed in the molten pit of Mount Doom, “It’s gone. It’s done.”

    While the Middle Earth mythology of the late author J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) – which spawned The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings– remains a beloved and influential force in all mediums of fiction, it also happens to be one of the most contentious intellectual properties, notably the centerpiece of an $80 million lawsuit over digital dominion stemming back five years between Warner Bros. and Tolkien’s estate. However, that proverbial battle of corporate armies has reached cessation between both parties with an undisclosed settlement that is classified as “amicable.” According to a joint statement:

    “The parties are pleased that they have amicably resolved this matter and look forward to working together in the future.”

    The suit was filed in November 2012, on the cusp of the theatrical debut of the first of a new trilogy of films by returning franchise director Peter Jackson adapting Tolkien’s original Middle Earth tale, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which would be followed by 2013’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and conclude with 2014’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Plaintiffs in the Tolkien Estate and book publisher Harper Collins alleged that Warner (via subsidiary New Line and rights holder rights-holder Saul Zaentz Co.,) exceeded their copyright purview by reaping profits off "tangible" digital merchandise, notably Hobbit/Rings-themed video games and slot machines.

    In response, Warner filed a counterclaim, alleging that the plaintiffs caused Warner Bros. to lose millions after not living up of terms codified in a contract in 1969 and its 2010 regrant. Warner, which distributed The Hobbit Trilogy globally across most major markets and co-produced the films via New Line, maintained that its digital endeavors were customary upon the contract’s conditions. Thus, a particularly boisterous, half-decade-long legal battle ensued with $80 million hanging in the balance; One that has finally come to its conclusion with the latest development.

    The end of the legal battle should come as a relief to fans of Tolkien. While the prospects of more live-action adaptations of the late fantasy visionary’s work are not exactly set in stone, such a thing is still quite possible, especially with the author's son Christopher Tolkien and his decades-long endeavor of curating his father’s notes, transforming them into posthumous works. Indeed, efforts like 1977’s The Silmarillion, 2007’s The Children of Húrin and a developing full novel adaptation of Beren and Lúthien are all potential fodder for film and television.

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    We know that David Goyer is writing the Green Lantern Corps movie, and it looks like the hunt for directors is on.

    News Mike Cecchini
    Jul 3, 2017

    It was revealed during the Warner Bros. SDCC 2015 panel that the Green Lantern reboot will be called Green Lantern CorpsWarner Bros. flashed a logo for the film on a jumbo wraparound screen in Hall H. Further, Deadline recently reported that David Goyer (of Batman Begins and Man of Steel fame) is working on a script alongside Justin Rhodes. Geoff Johns and Jon Berg are executive producing.

    So who is directing? Well, there's no confirmation on that, but That Hashtag Show, who have been well connected with casting related scoops over the last year, claim that Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) is "attached" to the project. I haven't been able to get any additional confirmation on this, as all of Hollywood is on vacation until after July 4th, and frankly, I don't really expect anyone to give me a definitive answer. But Wyatt, who recently walked away from the Gambit movie at 20th Century Fox, would seem like the kind of director Warner Bros. would court for this, and he'd be the second Apes-alum to join the DCEU (Matt Reeves is set to direct The Batman solo movie). Word had earlier surfaced via Meet the Movie Press that David Goyer is being considered as a director, as well, but there hasn't been any confirmation of that. Goyer has experience directing a big budget action movie, having been behind the camera on Blade: Trinity. Considering that Warner Bros. is mostly pursuing high profile directors with distinct styles these days, Wyatt would seem to be more in line with their thinking.

    The focus of the movie is apparently on John Stewart's origin, in what is being described as "Lethal Weapon in space." Expect Stewart to be the neophyte Green Lantern alongside an older, battle-hardened Hal Jordan. That Hashtag Show also have some casting breakdowns that would seem to back that up...

    Hal Jordan: Caucasian, 39 – 50. A former military test pilot, he is now a veteran of the Green Lantern Corps.

    John Stewart: African- American male, 21 – 30. Prior to joining the Green Lantern Corp, he was a sniper in the military.

    Going the team/buddy cop route instead of another solo film isn't all that surprising when you consider that Warner Bros. wants to put as much distance as possible between this and the disappointing 2011 movie that starred Ryan Reynolds. Turning this into a team movie not only takes the origin story out of the equation, it probably means this one will spend most of its time in space. More sci-fi, less earthbound superheroics should help everyone involved.

    Green Lantern Corps Release Date

    Green Lantern Corps will open on July 24th, 2020. The complete DC superhero movie release calendar is here.

    Green Lantern Corps Cast

    A few months back, a rumored casting shortlist for Hal Jordan surfaced via The Wrap, and amid sensible studio favorites like Tom Cruise, Bradley Cooper, Armie Hammer, Joel McHale, and Jake Gyllenhaal, there was one surprise: Ryan Reynolds. Really, having Reynolds' name on there throws that whole thing under suspicion. The 2011 Reynolds movie is radioactive, and the whole point of going the team movie route is to put as much distance between that and the new project as possible, and GL is notable by his absence in the Justice League movie. Furthermore, Reynolds himself doesn't sound terribly interested in returning.

    Armie Hammer also cast doubt on the report by saying he's never heard a word about the project to, of all outlets, TheWrap itself. While promoting his new film Call Me by Your Name at Sundance, Hammer said, "I saw the reporting too, and that's the first I've heard of it."

    Tyrese Gibson has been campaigning heavily for the role of John Stewart over the last year or so, but that hasn't come to anything yet, either. Other rumors indicate that another Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, may also make an appearance. 

    Read some good Green Lantern stories on Amazon 

    A version of this article first ran in July of 2015. It has been updated with new information.

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    Check out our complete guide to every single Marvel Universe reference in Captain America: The First Avenger.

    The Lists Mike Cecchini
    Jul 3, 2017

    You could almost consider Captain America: The First Avenger to be the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we've come to know it. The 2011 Joe Johnston film wasn't the first Marvel movie, nor was it the first to bring in elements from upcoming projects (The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2 both beat it to the punch). But it is the one that does the most heavy lifting in terms of world-building for the Marvel Universe, and some of its scenes have taken on more weight recently, thanks to projects like the Agent CarterTV series, not to mention its two sequels, The Winter Soldierand Captain America: Civil War.

    It's really amazing just how much Marvel lore this movie contains, and how faithful it is, at least in spirit, to the very first Captain America story, too. So join us as we overanalyze as much of Captain America: The First Avengeras we possibly can...

    Just to get this out of the way right up front, our primary players in this movie, Captain America and the Red Skull were both introduced in Captain America Comics #1 in 1940. They were created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Perhaps you've heard of them.

    - The framing sequence of the movie, which deals with the discovery and revival of Captain America has its roots in a number of places. For starters, Cap was revived in Avengers#4 (1964) by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. As you might have guessed, in the comic book Marvel Universe, the Avengers had formed while Cap was presumed dead, and they were the ones who discovered his frozen body and revived him.

    Watch Captain America: The First Avenger on Amazon

    Here, it's SHIELD who are tasked with reviving Captain America, which makes sense, as they're the ones who end up forming the Avengers in the first place. But that's not the amusing thing...

    - The crash site being found by a "Russian oil team" however, kind of mirrors a less celebrated piece of Captain America history. In the infamous 1990 Cannon Films movie (a flick that I kind of have a soft spot for, but that's an article for another time), where there was absolutely no such thing as a "Marvel Cinematic Universe," it was a German oil team who found the Capcicle. I'd like to think this was an intentional nod, but it probably wasn't.

    - This film also marks the first official appearance of Hydra in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hydra first appeared in Strange Tales #135 in 1965, and like most awesome things in these movies, was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

    The thing is, the Hydra of the comics was never really a WWII-era organization. It was, however, always a post-Nazi one, led by Wolfgang Von Strucker (remember him from the opening moments of Avengers: Age of Ultron?) and it did get some support from the Red Skull. But the idea of Johann Schmidt as the founder of Hydra is an invention strictly for the movies.

    We'll talk a little more about ol' Johann Schmidt/The Red Skull in a few minutes...

    - The Tesseract is not only "the jewel of Odin's treasure room" (and that connection to Thorand Thor: The Dark World really doesn't need any additional explanation, does it?), it's one of the Infinity Stones (specifically, the space gem), the series of Maguffins that has linked the Marvel Cinematic Universe together.

    But in the comics...

    ...the Tesseract was something known as "The Cosmic Cube" (it was the '60s, yo), and it was a purely technological, not magical or alien piece of superhero headache inducingness. It's general, all-purpose ability to "warp reality" is more or less in place throughout its comic book history, though, and the Red Skull has shown a fondness for it on more than one occasion...always to his undoing.

    - The ties to the Thormovies don't end with that line about Odin's treasure room, however. You can see the seeds of Thor: Ragnarok hinted at here. The tesseract is stashed in a wall sculpture of Yggdrasil, "the world tree," and the serpent (whose eye holds the key to unlocking the tesseract's hiding place) is Jormungandr, the serpent that Thor does battle with during the Asgardian end of days.

    - Even though Hitler's real life obsession with the occult is well documented, I'd like to think that Skull's line about how "the Fuhrer digs for trinkets in the desert" is a reference to the events of Raiders of the Lost ArkCaptain America: The First Avenger director Joe Johnston worked on the Raiders production (as did legendary Marvel artist Jim Steranko). Marvel also published a comic adaptation of that classic film, as well as The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones comic book series.

    In other words, if you want to believe that Indiana Jones is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, be my guest...Disney owns him, anyway.

    - Scenes of a pre-Cap Steve Rogers getting outraged about the Nazis while watching newsreel footage in a movie theater are staples of any expanded telling of his origin, but especially in the criminally overlooked mini-series, The Adventures of Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty by Fabian Nicieza and Kevin Maguire.

    - Bucky Barnes is a drastically different character from any of his comic book incarnations. Initially first appearing in the pages of Captain America Comics #1, he was a typical "kid sidekick" of the era, complete with Robin-esque domino mask. Bucky Barnes was adopted by the guys at Camp Lehigh after his father died in combat. It was later revealed that the teenaged boy was an accomplished sniper and field agent...but again, none of that is in play here.

    Buy Captain America: The First Avenger on Blu-ray on Amazon

    The idea of Steve and Bucky having a friendship that predates their military days was introduced (like many elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe) in the pages of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's The Ultimates. There, Bucky was a photographer, but he also helped keep Steve from getting his ass kicked in the streets of Brooklyn in their youth. The tables, of course, were turned once Cap took the super soldier cure.

    - The "Modern Marvels" title of the World's Fair exhibition needs no explanation, but note "Phineas Horton's Synthetic Man." That's the original Human Torch you're seeing in that tube. He's an android who bursts into flame, and he graced the cover of Marvel Comics#1 in 1939.

    A Golden Age Human Torch movie would be amazing, but it might take some gymnastics to get that name on film, given that 20th Century Fox owns the rights to "the Human Torch" with the Fantastic Four movies.

    Torch's big nemesis was Namor, the Sub-Mariner, a character whose movie rights might be tied up at Universal. But if any of this is ever resolved, well...we need to see these two go head to head on screen.

    - While this isn't the first appearance in the movies of Howard Stark, it is the first time we meet him as a young man played by Dominic Cooper (he was played by John Slattery in Iron Man 2). 

    The red car that Howard Stark fails to levitate seems to be a precursor to Phil Coulson's beloved flying red hot rod "Lola" on Agents of SHIELD. The red color might indicate a fondness for red that manifests in Tony Stark's armor. Howard is using "reversion" technology to try and levitate this, while Tony famously uses "repulsors" in the Iron Man armor. 

    - Not a comic book easter egg, but yes, that's Jenna "Clara Oswin Oswald" Coleman as one of Bucky and Steve's dates. If you'd like to consider this a side adventure of "the Impossible Girl" through time in order to make Doctor Who part of Marvel continuity, I won't stop you. 

    - Aside from the fact that Stanley Tucci is just delightful as Professor Abraham Erskine, the character has an interesting little history, too. In that very first Captain America origin story, he was referred to as "Josef Reinstein" (which probably rhymes with the most famous scientist of the era). It was later revealed that "Reinstein" was an alias used to protect the good doctor from his Nazi pursuers.

    We'll talk a little more about this version of Dr. Erskine when we get into the Red Skull's entry in a few minutes...

    - While the big screen Steve Rogers is a Brooklyn boy, in the comics, he was born on New York City's Lower East Side...the same mean streets that helped mold his co-creator, Jack Kirby, into the force of nature that he was. Incidentally, the story that Steve gives about his parents dying roughly lines up with what we know in the comics, although his mother died of pneumonia, not TB, there.

    Arnim Zola first appeared in Captain America #208 (1977) during Jack Kirby's incredibly wild return to Marvel. When we first meet Arnim Zola in the Red Skull's lab, his face is distorted through a weird lens. It's a reference to Arnim Zola's rather distinctive Jack Kirby design,'d better see for yourself:

    Crazy, right? Anyway, we see some of Zola's next evolution in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Also, if you squint, you can spot designs for his robotic body in the blueprints in the laboratory.

    - In that lab, Red Skull can be seen looking at a book that shows an old-fashioned illustration of the Norse "nine realms," one of which is "our" world, Midgard, and of course, there is Asgard.


    - Peggy Carter first appeared in Tales of Suspense#77 (1966) and was created by (who else?) Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Trust us, the Peggy Carter of the screen is a much more interesting character than the Peggy Carter of the page. Needless to say, the original Peggy Carter is an important part of Cap's history, even if she wasn't always quite the badass that Hayley Atwell gave us. We have much more on Peggy's comic history right here, if you're interested.

    - Enlisted douchebag Gilmore Hodge appeared in that excellent Cap origin story I mentioned above, The Adventures of Captain America. In that series, it was revealed that Steve was part of a program of guys who competed for the role. The Hodge of the comics was even more insufferable than the jerk on screen, if you can believe that. 

    - Sgt. Duffy is a favorite of mine, mostly because he's played to such perfection by Damon Driver. Duffy dates back to Cap's first appearance in Captain America Comics #1. Part of Steve Rogers' cover when he was at Camp Lehigh had to be that he was kind of a big, dumb, lummox...and thus, poor Sgt. Duffy, who wasn't in on the truth often found his blood pressure rising because of Rogers and his "goldbricking."

    - Colonel Chester Phillips didn't make his way into the comics until the 1965 re-telling of Captain America's origin in the pages of Tales of Suspense #65. Needless to say, Tommy Lee Jones is more fun on screen than the comic book version of Phillips ever was on the page. His little speech about "super soldiers" to the folks at Camp Lehigh refers to how Captain America was referred to in his early days, and the name of the serum that would grant him his abilities.

    Colonel Phillips eventually became General Phillips, because you're goddamn right he did.

    - Now is as good a time as any to talk about the super soldier serum, the Red Skull's origin, and this movie's ties to the less beloved 1990 Captain Americamovie. The idea that the man who gives Captain America his powers first devised a serum (under duress) is something borrowed, intentionally or otherwise, from Albert Pyun's 1990 Captain Americaflick. The imperfect serum is what ultimately turned the Red Skull into, well, a red skull.

    That wasn't always the case, though...

    - In the comics, Schmidt was just an evil young man who Hitler chose to be his representation of the Reich's "values." There was no super soldier serum involved, and for most of his career, he simply wore a mask...his face wasn't actually a red skull. That came later.

    Anyway, back to Cap's origin...

    - The origin sequence with Steve Rogers' transformation is a nearly perfect translation of the original Joe Simon/Jack Kirby story. From the car pulling up at the antique shop (it was a "curio shop" in 1940...same thing), to the old lady ready to blow you away if you give the wrong countersign. She even looks like the character who appeared in just a handful of panels back then.

    By the way, the fact that they managed to sneak the words "vita-rays" into a movie released in 2011 provides me endless amounts of joy. There are few things that scream "golden age superhero origin story" like "vita-rays." I could use some vita-rays, come to think of it.

    Also, that's Richard "Thorin Oakenshield" Armitage as Heinz Kruger, another character from Cap's first appearance. In the comics, Cap beats the hell out of Heinz before accidentally knocking him into the machinery which electrocutes him. Whether that's less gruesome than a cyanide pill or not is entirely up to you to decide.

    - The scene of Steve having his blood taken so that the government could try and duplicate the super soldier serum made sense in the context of the movie at the time, as Cap was always "the only one of his kind" because of the murder of Dr. Erskine. But after watching Agent Carterseason one, this scene carries a whole lot more weight, doesn't it?

    - There's a moment here when the SSR is told that all their focus is going to be put into fighting Hydra. So, with one line, we get the origin of the SHIELD vs. Hydra struggle. Holy moley, this movie got a lot done, didn't it?

    This next bit isn't from the comics, but it's too cool not to point out...

    - Steve's desire to fight in the war and the government's efforts to keep him stateside as a symbol of heroism parallels the story of a real life World War II hero, Marine Corps Sgt. John Basilone. Basilone was awarded the Medal of Honor after some nearly superhuman acts of heroism in combat at Guadalcanal. After that, he was sent back to the States to raise money for the war effort. Basilone was determined to help win the war in a more hands-on fashion, and requested they send him back overseas. He was killed in action (after sending a good stack of enemies to meet their maker) at Iwo Jima.

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    Basilone's story was told on the HBO series The Pacific, where he was played by John Seda. It's a good watch.

    - The costume that Cap wears during his war bond effort is a perfectly comic book accurate version of the classic Captain America costume (right down to the original shield...the round, more offensively minded shield didn't come around until Captain America Comics #2). It says an awful lot about Chris Evans' physique that he can actually make this look good, and he probably would have been just as effective wearing this throughout the movie. But here's the thing...

    It's a little ill-fitting, isn't it? And there wasn't any spandex in 1942. In fact... looks more than a little bit like the version of the costume worn by Dick Purcell in the 1944 Captain America movie serial from Republic Pictures.

    There's moments where it appears they're filming a Captain America movie serial during this montage, too. Considering that the Republic Pictures serial had almost nothing to do with the character from the comics beyond the costume (he was District Attorney Grant Gardner, not Steve Rogers), I'd like to imagine that's what they're filming here: a fictionalized version of the "real" Steve Rogers' non adventures.

    - The bit with Cap socking Hitler on the jaw is taken straight from the cover of Captain America Comics #1. Remember when I said that thing probably hit the stands in late 1940? It was nearly a year before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the US got formally involved in World War II. So that comic showed Cap socking a foreign dictator back when there was war being waged in Europe, but the USA was still a year away from involvement. As a result, the earliest Captain America comic book adventures featured him taking on saboteurs stateside.

    This probably explains why they moved the movie's timeline forward to 1942-1943 rather than the comic book Cap's early days of makes more sense for this movie to take place at a time when the US was already well embroiled in Europe.

    - Oh, and Cap is selling war bonds. You know where else Cap sold war bonds? On the covers of various Marvel/Timely publications in the '40s. It's what all the superheroes did!

    - The Howling Commandos have a rich comic book history all their own. These were the guys led by Nick Fury in World War comics that didn't appear until the '60s. They were created by (wait for it) Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and first appeared in the appropriately titled Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos#1 in 1963.

    There are some notable characters in the big screen version of the Howlers, though. Dum Dum Dugan, of course, has been hanging around the Marvel Universe forever, and has been Nick Fury's right hand man in SHIELD many times. Gabriel Jones grandson is Antoine Triplett , who showed up for awhile on Agents of SHIELD.

    Oh, and Kenneth Choi, who plays Commando Jim Morita here, shows up in Spider-Man: Homecoming as the principal of Peter's school, and the grandson of the character he plays in this very movie!

    We wrote much more about the individual Howling Commandos and their comic book origins in our guide to Agent Carter Season 1, which you can read right here.

    - Also note that the British demolitions expert, James Montgomery Falsworth, in the comics had a costumed identity as Union Jack. Falsworth's inclusion is a nod to the superhero team known as The Invaders, who operated during World War II. Their ranks included Union Jack, Captain America, the original Human Torch, and Namor.

    - While Stan Lee does have a cameo here, please remember: he did not have anything to do with Captain America's creation. Cap was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. However, Mr. Lee did write a good stack of my favorite Captain America stories in the mid-60s, and he was the writer on Avengers#4, the comic that brought Cap into the "modern" Marvel Universe (all with Cap's co-creator Kirby).

    In fact, the only characters in this movie that Lee had any hand in actually creating are Peggy Carter, the Howling Commandos, and Nick Fury. 

    - Yes, that's Game of Thrones' Natalie Dormer leading Cap astray. Your eyes do not deceive you.

    - During Bucky's adventures with the Howling Commandos, we see his proficiency with a sniper rifle, something that obviously comes in handy during his future as a brainwashed cybernetic assassin in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In the original comics, Bucky was a more traditional "kid sidekick" type, like a more combat ready Robin.

    But Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting took elements of Bucky's history (he always seemed proficient with a rifle, he spoke a bunch of different languages) and foregrounded that as they retold Cap's origins in the early 2000s. Why would Bucky be so effective with firearms and languages if he wasn't actually a highly trained operative, right? It's these things that helped lead to the whole "Winter Soldier" badassness.

    - Bucky's "death" however, differs dramatically from the comics. The comic book version of these events saw Bucky and Cap trying to disarm a heavily armed drone. Cap falls off (into the can guess the rest) and Bucky got blown into sidekick mcnuggets. Or so we thought for about 40 years, until Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting brought him back as the Winter Soldier. Either way, as he does in the film, Cap held himself responsible for his pal's death.

    The villain they were trying to take down at the time was Baron Zemo, not the Red Skull, but we'll be meeting Zemo soon enough in Captain America: Civil War, where he'll be played by Daniel Bruhl.

    - Oh, and when Cap begins his assault on Hydra HQ, he plants his shield on the front of his motorcycle. That's something that Reb Brown did in the not exactly awesome Captain America TV movies from the 1970s.

    Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments and I'll add 'em in here!

    Mike Cecchini was almost born on the Fourth of July. Shoot roman candles at him on Twitter.

    This article originally ran on July 4th, 2015.

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    Jon Watts explains the great appeal of doing a movie like Spider-Man: Homecoming has always been seeing this character in an MCU context.

    News David Crow
    Jul 4, 2017

    There is something intrinsically youthful about the Spider-Man character to Jon Watts. He can personally recall when, in the second grade, his mother first bought him a Marvel Try-out book starring the wall-crawler and Doctor Octopus. He imagines that association of Spidey with childhood memories is universal, whether it be from the equivalent of an old Marvel coloring book or this month’s highly anticipated Spider-Man: Homecoming. Either way, the character just appeals to all ages, thanks in large part to artist Steve Ditko’s original sleek design.

    “I think there’s something about him you just can’t help but like when you’re a little kid,” Watts muses during our one-on-one interview. “Because you’re like, ‘He’s like me!’ There’s just something about the design of his face that is so approachable as a little kid. I think there is just something undeniable about just the core design of Spider-Man.”

    Perhaps that is what made the jump to blockbusters so easy for Watts since, in many ways, he is continuing to color and design Spidey’s adventures with Spider-Man: Homecoming. The picture carries the monumental weight of being the first Spider-Man movie to be produced by Marvel Studios after a complicated deal was negotiated with Sony Pictures to make it happen. Yet Watts is taking the reins of directing and co-writing duties on the project after only one previous movie: the terrific, but little seen, crime comedy-drama, Cop Car. Still the secret for reimagining another cinematic Spider-Man was, for Watts and Marvel, the naturalness with which the character fits into the studio’s cinematic universe.

    It’s an element none of the previous Spidey movies could have and for the Homecoming director, it’s one of the defining characteristics.

    “He was created, like Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created him, to give a different perspective on the superhero universe,” Watts says while considering the character’s early comic book history. For example, the very first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man in 1963 featured Peter Parker recklessly attempting to join the Fantastic Four, much as how Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is overeager to become a fulltime Avenger in Spider-Man: Homecoming. So while Watts confides that he compartmentalized the pressure of the project, lest “I freak myself out,” he found it natural to focus on the storytelling opportunities presented by working within the MCU.

    Watts says, “So you go back and read the old books and you’re reminded, ‘Oh that’s why Spider-Man jumped out so much when he was originally introduced.’ He was giving a regular guy’s perspective on this crazy world. As soon as that clicked in for me, I felt like that was such a clear viewpoint to drive everything.”

    Hence why the director found fitting into the MCU, and within the parameters traditionally associated with Marvel Studios, surprisingly easy. There have been stories in the press over the years of some directors not being as keen on joining the MCU, but Watts dismisses feeling any sort of creative limitations. To the contrary, his movie actually has the narrative drive of Peter Parker desperately wanting to be a member of the Avengers, but finding Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) will let his his assistant constantly run interference, so as to reduce Pete’s facetime with the invincible Iron Man. As a result, Spidey feels like an outsider looking in at the MCU, which allowed Watts to build even bigger castles inside this sandbox.

    “You just expect to hit a wall or for someone to say ‘no’ or be like ‘you must do this,’” Watts says. “And weirdly, that never happened. Like I might be benefitting from Spider-Man really wants to be a part of the bigger world and he’s not really let in yet.”

    He adds, “I had my own ideas about just the visual concept of the movie, but it was important that it didn’t seem like it was from a completely different universe. Because for me, the whole thing was the original intent, which is to show like a different perspective on this universe. So I wanted it to feel like it did fit in and try to make my mark on the film in that way.”

    Hence the very opening of the movie, which is a new vantage of Peter Parker’s small role in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, except now told via the web-head’s own selfie videos. It’s the same world, but one informed by an exuberant Holland and that familiar, overexcited relatability.

    Also to bring out that youthfulness, much has been made in press materials about this movie evoking a “John Hughes movie,” which for the most part is associated with the teen movies of the 1980s like The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. However, there is also a palpable snappiness to how Holland interacts with his younger co-stars, including Zendaya and Jacob Batalon, that feels a little more current. That too is by design.

    Says Watts, “I think John Hughes is an amazing filmmaker and writer, and I think the term ‘John Hughes’ gets used by a very specific generation to just refer to high school movies, because that’s their high school movie. Like when I think of high school, I think of Chicago high schools [where Hughes movies are set] before I think of my own high school! Because those were mainly the high school movies I saw. But if you were a little bit younger, you think more of You Can’t Hardly Wait or 10 Things I Hate About You, or Clueless. It’s like an eternal genre in that way; there’s always going to be teenagers. So yeah, capturing that spirit was really important to me.”

    That slight change in perspective also can relate to how the Vulture was developed for the film. While in the comics, the Vulture was a near elderly man of exaggerated, rarified airs, the one Michael Keaton plays in the movie is decidedly more blue collar. He also is reminiscent of authority figures from those high school movies, kind of like a deadlier school principal who means it when he says don’t mess with the bull or you’ll get the horns.

    Watts still points out that Keaton’s Vulture is similar to the comic book one in that he is “an older guy getting screwed over in some way,” but he found it compelling to emphasize at a greater degree the generational contrasts between Holland’s Peter and Keaton’s Adrian Toomes.

    “I thought if we’re going to make Spider-Man be the ground level superhero, let’s figure out what a ground level supervillain would look like,” the director says. “Like if we wanted to show a regular kid who gets these powers and becomes a superhero, what if a regular guy gets the ability to be a supervillain? And so that’s the main thing Michael and I talked about: How do you ground this guy in the universe and how do you make him be a believable guy at the beginning of the story, so it doesn’t feel cartoonish or too arch in that way.”

    The result is not just the induction of a great Spider-Man into the MCU, but one of its better villains. Indeed, both Watts and this writer think the best scene in the movie is just one where Keaton and Holland break things down for each other via dialogue, as opposed to fists.

    “That makes me so happy in this big, crazy, action-packed superhero movie, that the most dramatic scene could be almost that,” Watts says.

    And audiences will get their chance to see for themselves when Spider-Man and the Vulture square off in theaters on Friday, July 7.

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    We have your first look at The War of Jokes and Riddles part 2!

    NewsJim Dandy
    Jul 2, 2017

    DC Comics sent along an exclusive first look at Batman#26, the second part of Tom King and Mikel Janin's "The War of Jokes and Riddles." Here's what they have to say about the issue:

    BATMAN #26 Written by TOM KINGArt and cover by MIKEL JANINVariant cover by TIM SALE“THE WAR OF JOKES AND RIDDLES” part two! The Riddler and The Joker escalate their bloody feud, and the villains of Gotham City are forced to choose sides or be caught in the crossfire! It’s up to Batman to push himself to the limit and keep innocent citizens out of harm’s way.

    We at Den of Inveterate Tom King Fanbois are extra pumped about this arc. Certainly because of the craft: the first issue of this story, the extra-sized Batman #25, was creepy as hell. King's peculiar cadence and pace are almost a perfect fit for a rigid, structured Bat-foe like The Riddler, and while the Joker has been an elementally chaotic force for years in the DCU, his appearance in the first part felt as structured but also diametrically opposed to the Riddler.

    Also, not for nothing, but as a fairly regular Marvel reader, it's real nice to see an event book that isn't heroes fighting heroes. Let the villains have a go for a change.

    Check out the pretty Mikel Janin pictures below. Batman #26 is out on July 5th.


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