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Articles on this Page
- 08/08/17--11:15: _Judge Dredd TV Seri...
- 08/03/17--23:02: _A Guide to DC Anima...
- 08/09/17--08:44: _DC Comics Giving Eq...
- 08/09/17--12:19: _The Hunger Games an...
- 08/09/17--16:48: _Ava DuVernay Develo...
- 08/10/17--08:50: _Stardust Is Still O...
- 08/10/17--11:49: _Film Adaptation of ...
- 08/10/17--14:37: _Deadpool FXX Animat...
- 08/10/17--15:57: _Chaos Walking: Nick...
- 08/10/17--17:00: _Justice League Movi...
- 08/05/17--12:15: _A Reading Guide to ...
- 08/10/17--22:14: _The Defenders: Rele...
- 08/10/17--23:32: _Can The Dark Tower ...
- 08/11/17--08:22: _9 Team-Up Comics to...
- 08/11/17--14:07: _Justice League: New...
- 08/11/17--16:14: _Legends of Tomorrow...
- 08/11/17--20:52: _Silver & Black: Rel...
- 08/07/17--19:03: _Will Riverdale Seas...
- 08/12/17--20:17: _Astro City #46 Excl...
- 08/14/17--08:30: _The Church of Star ...
- 08/08/17--11:15: Judge Dredd TV Series: Karl Urban in Talks to Star
- 08/03/17--23:02: A Guide to DC Animated Movies
- 08/09/17--08:44: DC Comics Giving Equity To Dark Matter Creators
- 08/09/17--12:19: The Hunger Games and Twilight: Lionsgate Wants More Films
- 08/09/17--16:48: Ava DuVernay Developing Sci-Fi Film Dawn
- 08/10/17--08:50: Stardust Is Still One of the Best Neil Gaiman Adaptations Out There
- 08/10/17--11:49: Film Adaptation of The Secret Will Star Katie Holmes
- 08/10/17--14:37: Deadpool FXX Animated Series Will Differ from the Movies
- 08/10/17--15:57: Chaos Walking: Nick Jonas Joins Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley
- 08/10/17--17:00: Justice League Movie: Trailer, Cast, Release Date, and More News
- 08/05/17--12:15: A Reading Guide to Stephen King's Dark Tower Universe
- 08/10/17--23:32: Can The Dark Tower Franchise Be Saved?
- 08/11/17--08:22: 9 Team-Up Comics to Read Before Defenders
- 08/11/17--14:07: Justice League: New Frontier Commemorative Blu-ray Coming
Featurette – “Retro Action Cool: The Story of Darwyn Cooke”– A revealing look into the life and times of one of comics’ most brilliant figures, the late Darwyn Cooke.
Featurette – “Super Heroes United! The Complete Justice League History”– A comprehensive look at nearly a half-century of Justice League chronology from the inception in the comics to vivid animated renditions in the late 2000s. The story is told with a myriad of interviews tracing the early days of DC Super Hero team ups during the Golden Age to the Silver Age rendition where the established heroes emerged and beyond. Interviews include such notables as Dan DiDio, Michael Uslan, Paul Levitz, Mark Waid, Denny O'Neil, Stan Lee and Marv Wolfman.
Featurette – “The Legion of Doom: The Pathology of the DC Super Villain”– This 10-minute piece examines the early mythological archetypes of nemesis characters from a historical perspective and reveals how the tenants of this rich history were adapted and woven into the Justice League stories.
Featurette – “Comic Book Commentary: Homage to the New Frontier”– This mini-documentary is a nod to the fans of the New Frontier comics, further expanding the themes contained in the source material and how these elements were truncated or evolved for inclusion in the film. It features vivid imagery culled from the pages of DC: The New Frontier, mixed with the commentary of Darwyn Cooke. This featurette is a treat for both fans and scholars of the medium.
Sneak Peak: Gotham by Gaslight– A behind-the-scenes look at the next DC Universe Original Movie, inspired by the 1989 Elseworlds tale of Batman – at the turn of the 20th century – as first created as a graphic novel by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola, with inks by P. Craig Russell.
Audio CommentaryI/The Filmmakers– Featuring Justice League: The New Frontier filmmakers Bruce Timm, Michael Goguen, David Bullock, Stan Berkowitz, Andrea Romano and Gregory Noveck.
Audio Commentary II/Darwyn Cooke– Featuring award-winning writer/artist Darwyn Cooke
- 08/11/17--16:14: Legends of Tomorrow Season 2: Complete DC Universe Reference Guide
- 08/11/17--20:52: Silver & Black: Release Date Set for Spider-Man Spinoff Movie
- 08/12/17--20:17: Astro City #46 Exclusive Preview
- 08/14/17--08:30: The Church of Star Wars: Exploring the Light & Dark Sides of Fandom
Karl Urban is interested in reprising his role as Judge Dredd for the upcoming TV series starring the 2000 AD anti-hero.
Ever since the gnarly and still vastly underrated Dredd movie from way back in 2012, many including this writer had been anxious to see a sequel with Karl Urban’s fine jawline on the poster. While that was sadly never to be, Judge Dredd is getting his day in court again, this time on the small screen. Rebellion Developments, the game publisher who has owned the rights to Dredd and the larger 2000 AD comic book universe since 2000, announced Wednesday that it is partnering with IM Global Television to produce a television series called Judge Dredd: Mega City One.
The new series is described as a drama focusing on a team of street judges, law enforcement officers who act in a dystopian future as judge, jury, and executioner of criminals. The series is set in a grim 22nd century where the eastern seaboard of the United States has morphed into one giant sprawling metropolis called Mega City—the last refuge for law and order on an otherwise smoldering cinder. The series is also promised to deal with modern problems in its futuristic setting, including domestic terrorism and the tensions between the super-rich and disenfranchised.
“We’re very excited to be beginning the journey to get more of Judge Dredd’s Mega-City One on the television screen,” said Rebellion owners Jason Kingsley and Chris Kingsley. “Thanks to the legions of fans who have kept up pressure on social media, and a lot of background work and enthusiasm, we aim to make a big budget production that will satisfy both our vast comics audience and the even greater general screen-watching public.”
Here's everything we know about Judge Dredd: Mega City One:
Judge Dredd: Mega City One Cast
Karl Urban recently appeared at Star Trek's Las Vegas convention to chat about a whole bunch of things, which inevitably ended up including his possible links to Judge Dredd: Mega City One, the planned TV continuation of the 2012 cult classic movie featuring the 2000 AD antihero.
Urban revealed that “I am in discussions with them about that. I told them that if they write the material and give Dredd something to do and give him a function, I will be there. I would love to.”
Though Pete Travis' Dredd performed poorly in cinemas, it gained further popularity on its home release, and fans of both the film and John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra's character have been championing a return to Mega City One ever since.
More as this develops.
Judge Dredd: Mega City One Trailer
A video was released to explain how this may be the most exciting—and lasting—attempt to put Dredd in live-action yet.
Judge Dredd was previously portrayed onscreen by Sylvester Stallone in an ill-fated 1995 action movie and again by Urban in the 2012 cult classic. The character and his universe were created by John Wagner, Carlos Ezquerra, and Pat Mills in 1977’s 2000 AD #2.
Judge Dredd: Mega City One Release Date
No release date has been set for Judge Dredd: Mega City One. Our guess is that it's still a ways away as the show is currently in early development.
Read and download the full Den of Geek Special Edition magazine here!
We look at all of the DC animated movies released since 2007, and make sense of the ones worth checking out.
In 2007, DC’s animation department announced that they were creating a line of direct-to-video, feature-length movies free from many of the constraints of regular television. It was a controversial move, mostly because the most recent forays into animation from DC had been really well received by fans - Justice League Unlimited and Teen Titans had just ended, and fans were eager for more series set in the DC Animated Universe, not stand alone adaptations of comic stories.
Despite the initial trepidation, most of them have been a success. They do follow some general rules, though: usually, the Star Trek movie rule applies, where every other one is good. There are a couple of stretches of two bad or three good in a row, but over the course of the line, that’s generally the pattern.
Also, the quality of the movie is almost always in proportion to the quality of the comic it was based off of. And the more original the story, the better the movie. Let’s take a look at what are now officially known as DC Universe Original Movies...
Superman: Doomsday (2007)
The first feature in this new initiative was based on 1992’s hottest college fund investment, The Death of Superman. The story is perhaps looked back on too harshly as emblematic of ‘90s comic excess, and maybe because of that, this movie wasn’t well received.
Superman: Doomsday made significant changes to the storyline, compressing two years of stories into one 75-minute feature. It also combined all four replacement Supermen into one clone, and tweaks the relationship between Lois and Superman to add a bit of drama.
Superman: Doomsday set the tone for a lot of what was to come, structurally. The action sequences were well done, something that will remain a constant throughout these movies. It suffered because of some iffy voice acting (Adam Baldwin wasn’t great as Superman, and Anne Heche was similarly middling as Lois) and also because it was like, 50 issues of comics boiled down into an hour’s worth of movie. It certainly wasn’t bad, but it was very middle of the road.
Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)
Darwyn Cooke’s retro-Justice League origin story is one of the most highly regarded DC books of the last 20 years, and that strong foundation served the movie adaptation well. That the story works in either medium is a minor miracle. Justice League: The New Frontier mixes a noir story (Slam Bradley, J’onn J’onzz, Batman, King Faraday, and the GCPD investigating a cult) with the bright, shiny superheroics of the Flash, Green Lantern, Superman and Wonder Woman, and all comes together well at the end.
It’s all wrapped up in an art style designed to mimic Cooke’s Bruce Timm-meets-50s-art-deco-print-ads style, and the animators do a great job of matching it (something they won’t do nearly as well with later movies). The voice cast is superb, too, with Kyle MacLachlan as Superman, Lucy Lawless as Wonder Woman, Jeremy Sisto as Batman, and Neil Patrick Harris as Flash all being inspired choices, and David Boreanaz’ Hal Jordan is the best Hal ever, for at least another couple of these movies.
DC has started packaging the comics with their movie counterparts recently, and if there is ever the opportunity to grab both versions of The New Frontier, you should jump on that.
Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)
Remember The Animatrix? And remember how people used to try and talk themselves into digging it? And then remember how it was actually just not very good, but we were so starved for Matrixstories that we’d take anything? I do, and I guess this is a little bit confessional.
Gotham Knight was just like that: an anime-style anthology of stories written by some big names, and it was closely tied not to the comics, but to the Batman movies of the time. These six stories were supposedly set between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. They were a disaster.
Kevin Conroy is the greatest Batman of my lifetime, and I don’t think you’ll find anyone who will argue that point too strenuously. But the decision to keep him voicing Batman in these stories contributed to the tonal disaster that they were: his voice in anime characters fighting Deadshot and Killer Croc in a universe that was supposed to be “more realistic” just made me confused and a little nosebleedy and possibly a touch stupider from trying to reconcile it all. Skip it.
Wonder Woman (2009)
Written by Gail Simone (who had a solid run writing Diana just prior to this) and based loosely on George Perez’s “Gods and Monsters” story from just after the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths, this movie is widely considered one of the best Wonder Woman stories in any medium of the last 15 years. This movie is great.
It takes Perez’s story - Ares has a grudge against Hippolyta and her people, and uses his son Deimos and a convoluted international nuclear strike to try and destroy them, only to have Diana and Steve Trevor stop him - and streamlines it. Keri Russell is a great Diana, and even though subsequent casting decisions add a little dissonance with Rosario Dawson as Artemis and Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor, the movie works just as well if you pretend that Artemis later takes over as Wonder Woman for a little while and Fillion is still playing Hal Jordan, only in disguise.
And if you’ve never read Perez’s original story before, it really is one of the best Wonder Woman comics ever, and it is regularly packaged with this DVD. This is a good excuse to pick it up.
Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)
First Flight, despite the name, is less Hal Jordan’s origin story and more yellow lantern Sinestro’s. Green Lantern is maybe the one character who has fared the best in these films, because his powers look the best in animated form. First Flight is a fun, longer exposure to that world.
There is a...lot...of killing in it, but that bothers me less when it’s Green Lantern than it does when it’s Batman doing the murdering. I think part of what smoothed it over for me is some more great voice casting: Victor Garber (half of television’s Firestorm) is great as Sinestro; Michael Madsen’s Kilowog is only second to Dennis Haysbert’s; and Chris Meloni was great as Hal.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)
I’ve come around on this since I first saw it. It’s still ridiculous: this is a story about Superman and Batman teaming up to fight off a President Lex Luthor-led team of heroes and bounty-thirsty villains while they get into a composite Superman/Batman robot to punch a kryptonite meteor back into space, and that hasn’t changed or become any less silly since 2009.
But I didn’t realize at the time how great the animators did of capturing Ed McGuinness’ art style, or how much McGuinness’ art looked like old cartoons to begin with. Everybody looks like if Rob Liefeld was trained to draw in a Hanna Barbera studio in the ‘40s: absurdly overmuscled, but kinetic and bubbly and fun instead of scratchy and angular.
Narratively, this movie is still unnecessarily complex and pretty stupid, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch, one of the few clear improvements on the comic source material in this series.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)
I’m a bit of a Grant Morrison fanboy, so I was excited for this movie, which purports to be an adaptation of JLA: Earth 2. It is not. I mean, it has some of the trappings of Morrison and Frank Quitely’s original story, but the plot is pretty dramatically different, at least in how it works out.
Earth 2 is the world of the Crime Syndicate of America, where Ultraman and Johnny Quick and Power Ring and Superwoman are the evil rulers of the world, and Lex Luthor and the Jester are fighting to save the world. Earth 2 Luthor escapes to Earth Prime to get the Justice League’s help.
In the comics, he’s being manipulated into accidentally causing the destruction of both Earths by Earth 2’s Brainiac, who wants to capture the energy given off by the explosion for comic book science of some sort. In the movie, Owlman has allowed the discovery of alternate worlds to turn him into some sort of Nihilist John Calvin, and plans to destroy the multiverse because why not.
So there’s a big superhero fight, and here’s where my problem comes in: the League uses Johnny Quick’s speed and vibrational frequency to open a portal to an uninhabited Earth, so they can deposit Owlman and his ennui bomb there and let Owlman defuse it and live alone and unable to hurt anyone again. Batman specifically uses Quick and not Flash to open this portal because doing so kills Quick. So Batman pulls the “I won’t kill you but I don’t have to save you” stuff that lets him skate on a technicality in Batman Begins only here he does it to Owlman, and in doing so, he straight up causes the death of Earth 2 Flash. That’s a dealbreaker for me.
Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
Bruce Greenwood was a great Batman. Under The Red Hood is another story that was better as a movie than it was as a comic, in part because of the voice casting (Greenwood, Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing), and in part because the action sequences were fantastic. The comic was the story of Jason Todd, post resurrection, rejoining Gotham’s crimefighting community as DC’s Punisher, rounding up a bunch of mob types and eventually the Joker to get his revenge.
Thirteen Days is an amazing movie, so Greenwood could have spent his next 10 movies drooling and laughing at the audience and I still would love him, but here (and in the gone far too soon Young Justice), he’s a great, understated Batman. The fights are really top notch, though, and they're the absolute biggest draw to this movie: acrobatic, with great flow and excellent choreography.
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)
I first watched this right after I saw Crisis on Two Earths, so I was a little harder on it initially than I needed to be. Then again, even without my initial reservation, this is terrible.
Superman/Batman: Apocalypseis an adaptation of Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner’s second arc of the Superman/Batman comic, this one gave us Supergirl’s emergence on Earth, Darkseid’s attempt at making her into a Female Fury, and cheekbones so high every guy looked like a starving, effeminate Punisher symbol.
My problem with it stems from Batman commiting murder again - he frees Kara from Darkseid’s clutches by (ugh I hate that I’m going to type this) turning on Apokalips’ self destruct sequence with some spores or something. He tells Darkseid he’ll shut the destruct sequence off if Darkseid lets Kara go. This is the rough equivalent of Batman holding a gun on someone’s spouse and saying “I won’t shoot if you stop doing crime.” It’s patently ridiculous, and grossly out of character for Batman, and you know what? I’m still mad about it. Did not like.
Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam (2010)
This wasn’t so much a movie as it was a lost JLU episode that works Black Adam into the world, and then a collection of a few other shorts that had been released on DVDs. The Superman/Shazam/Black Adam story is fun and entertaining, and the other stories on here are pretty good.
One is a fluffy, insubstantial Jonah Hex story; one has Neal McDonough playing Green Arrow, which is probably going to be difficult to reconcile for people currently watching Arrow; another has Gary Cole as ‘70s detective Jimmy Corrigan, who becomes The Spectre. These are all fun enough to watch if you find them in a bargain bin somewhere, but I don’t think I’d spend full price on one.
All-Star Superman (2011)
All-Star Superman is tough. The original comic, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, is probably my favorite comic of all time, so on the one hand I was excited to see it adapted, but on the other I was furious to see it adapted.
My rule for moving stories between mediums is that there has to be a compelling point to make the switch - that it would look amazing in action, or that it would bring the story to more people, or something. There wasn’t really any point to doing All-Star Superman, though. It was so peculiarly comics that I think it lost something when it became animation. It was competently done, and had I not had any knowledge of the comic, I probably would have been happy with it, even if it was a little forgettable. But I really think the comic is a vastly better use of your time and money.
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011)
Like Gotham Knight, this is an anthology. But unlike Gotham Knight, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights is actually good. The movie has a unified framing sequence involving Krona destroying Oa, but most of its time is spent on a collection of stories that are either fundamental to the Lantern mythology or all-time classics.
Alan Moore might not do great in the movies, but in animated form (well, here, at least...there's another attempt down below that we'll get to), his work is treated very well. Emerald Knights has two of his stories – “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize,” about the planet that’s also a Lantern, and “Abin Sur,” the story of Hal Jordan’s predecessor’s last mission (which led to the formation of the Red Lanterns). Both of them retain the spirit of his work, and fill out a casual viewer’s understanding of the GL mythos.
Kilowog gets a spotlight, and it’s as fun as you’d expect (note: Kilowog is awesome). Laira gets into a fistfight with her Dad and sets up her eventual trip to Ysmault, and there is a story of how the Lanterns eventually came to use creative constructs in their regular duties.
This is good for long time GL fans, and it’s good for people who are just getting to know the character and want more about his world.
Batman: Year One (2011)
Only once has a casting decision completely overwhelmed everything else about one of these projects, and it was here. This is a very compressed adaptation of Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli’s classic story. As a result, they miss some parts and pay too little attention to others because the run time is barely over an hour.
But that’s not important.
Casting Bryan Cranston as Jim Gordon is so unbelievably perfect that I can’t believe there isn’t some kind of internet petition demanding that this happen in perpetuity. It’s like JK Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson: it doesn’t matter how many times the story gets rebooted or how many different studios are in charge of the movies or how many different eras the story covers, there is now and will always be only one correct casting for Gordon, and that’s Cranston.
A brief note about the combo packs: I believe they used the latest printing of Batman: Year One in the combo release with the DVD, and because of that, you should buy the two separately here. There were real problems with the coloring in the new edition, so make sure you get an older version of the comic.
Justice League: Doom (2012)
I’m sure it wouldn't be so well regarded were it not for this, but Justice League: Doom reunites most of the old DCAU voice cast (Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, Susan Eisenberg, Michael Rosenbaum, and Carl Lumbly as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Martian Manhunter), so I will always love it.
It helps that it’s based (very loosely) on “Tower of Babel,” Mark Waid and Howard Porter’s story from JLA. In it, Vandal Savage uses the Xavier Protoco…I mean countermeasures designed to take out the Justice League – Batman’s parents’ bodies are stolen; Wonder Woman gets all hopped up on nanites that make her think everyone is Cheetah (and thus needs a good punching), Superman gets…uh…shot with a kryptonite bullet… You know, killing some of these dudes isn’t rocket science.
Anyway, it turns out all these countermeasures were designed by Batman, but stolen by Vandal Savage and the Secret Society of Super Villains, and everybody gets saved by Cyborg. The fights were good, while the writing was clever and changed enough from the comics that it showed Dwayne McDuffie’s wonderful grasp of the characters.
Superman vs. The Elite (2012)
Action Comics #775 (“What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way?”) is a really good comic. It was a direct response to The Authority’s “if superheroes were real, they’d all be murderous assholes” attitude, and it had some really sweet Doug Mahnke art. As a restatement of Superman’s core principles, it was incredibly effective, but also fairly complex philosophically...at least for a Superman comic.
So that’s why Superman vs. The Elite is utterly puzzling.
It’s fundamentally the same story. Superman battles “The Elite,” a group of morally grey anti-heroes who reflect the dark, shitty world of today. They start killing all the villains, and Superman tries to stop them, so they fight, and Superman wins by showing them he can kill them whenever he wants, but he refuses to because he wants them to be better than that. But the whole thing is done in this ridiculous cartoony art style, like if someone wanted to hand draw a more violent Super Hero Squad Show, and it undercuts any complexity or nuance that the script might have been trying to get across.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (2013)
Warner Brothers released this adaptation of Frank Miller’s genre-changing, character-breaking work in two parts, but they’re one movie and you’re fooling yourself if you treat them differently. The first part takes the mutant story, and the second has the showdowns with the Joker and Superman.
In my head, when I envision Batman, it’s always Miller’s. I like a Batman that’s massive and hulking, who carries himself in the most intimidating way possible and terrifies people just by being in the same room as them. This movie was one of the more successful ones at adapting the art style as well as the story, and the fight in the mudpit between Batman and the mutant leader is one of my favorite moments from any film in this series.
Superman Unbound (2013)
Superman Unbound was based loosely on Geoff Johns’ and Gary Frank’s story of Superman meeting Brainiac from just before the New 52 reboot, and it's certainly better than this movie. In it, Superman is helping Supergirl adjust to life on Earth and dealing with a secret relationship with Lois when a robot drone hits just outside of Arizona. It’s a scout for Brainiac, and it means the villain is coming to destroy the planet and capture a city.
The biggest crime of the movie is that it wastes John Noble as Brainiac. Also, there's a faint whiff of anti-intellectualism. And the anti-museum-ness of it. And how Superman beats Brainiac by exposing a latent mental illness.
It feels hurried, like they had a little more exposition that would have made all this feel less mean-spirited and on-the-nose, but it got cut for time. Noble doesn’t really get much to do besides gently sneer at Superman, a gross waste of the man who should have won every Emmy imaginable for his work as the various Walter Bishops on Fringe. Yes, even Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)
It might be controversial, but I think I liked the movie version better than I did the comic mega-crossover that started the New 52. The Flashpoint Paradox is a what-if story where Barry Allen successfully goes back in time to stop his mother’s murder, and wakes up in a horrible world where his mother is alive, but Themyscira and Atlantis are about to destroy the world; Batman is Thomas Wayne instead of Bruce (and he murders), while Cyborg is the leader of the Justice League, trying to stop the Amazon/Atlantis war.
It really works. In the comics, it was large to the point of unwieldy, and tough for someone not already neck deep in DC lore to get passionately invested in, because we’d seen it before, and that robbed it of anything resembling real stakes.
On screen, though, it’s much more interesting and effective, and a lot of excess is cut away by the short run time. Michael B. Jordan is a good Cyborg, and Kevin McKidd as Thomas Wayne did a good job of fitting into the continuum of Batmans.
Justice League: War (2014)
I have a confession to make: remember how I said that the quality of the movies is usually directly related to the quality of the comic they’re based on? Well, I HATED the first arc of New 52 Justice League. Anakin burbling rage crawling out of a lava pit doesn’t even begin to describe how angry the comic made me.
So...it was tough to watch Justice League: War. Everyone in it is a monosyllabic douche canoe except Wonder Woman, who just talks like a naive 5 year old who’s just leaving the house for the first time. Yes I know that’s the point of this Wonder Woman, but she sounds like an idiot and that’s not what she’s supposed to be.
I’m baffled, after we’ve had so many good individual Darkseids that they would choose to do that awful composite voice for him, and by the time I turned the movie off in disgust, the movie was also well on its way to turning Billy Batson into a smarmy little dipshit.
Son of Batman (2014)
I don’t get why Deathstroke had to be shoved into this. He shows up exactly once in Grant Morrison’s entire run, and that’s as much out of obligation (Deathstroke is a good Robin villain, but not a good anyone else villain, so having him show up for five minutes to fight Dick Grayson as Batman and Damian was nice), so it’s not like the source material screamed for his inclusion.
But Warner Bros. just keep pushing him into other media trying to make him seem cool. Look, he worked okay in Arrowand he was one of the best parts of TeenTitans, but there is no reason to shoehorn him into the League of Shadows.
Son of Batmanmovie is okay, but Deathstroke was a symptom of its bigger problem. It tries too hard.
Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)
The clubhouse leader for best Suicide Squad movie right now is Assault on Arkham. It’s an original story set in the world of the Batman: Arkham games.
Nothing about Assault on Arkham is Earth-moving. It isn't even a terribly clever look at any of the characters (Deadshot, the Riddler, King Shark, Harley, Joker, Captain Boomerang, or Batman). It’s just a brief-ish action flick that’s a lot of fun and worth your time.
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2015)
Thankfully, the direct sequel to Justice League: War turned off almost all of the qualities that I hated, and kept up a solid action base. It even managed to make some of the douchery fun (very likely attributable to the switch from Justin Kirk back to Nathan Fillion for Hal Jordan's voice).
This story combined a couple of arcs of Geoff Johns’ New 52 Aquaman- the first arc that introduces Arthur as a serious player in the DCU, and the “Throne of Atlantis” crossover with Justice League. Sam Witwer as Ocean Master was a lot more fun than I figured he’d be, even if I do usually enjoy him because I loved him as Starkiller in The Force Unleashed.
Arthur Curry discovers his origin as a half-Atlantean heir to the throne and with the help of the Justice League and his Civil War general-esque mutton chop sideburns, he manages to stop a war between Atlantis and the surface world. I wouldn’t put this in the top five, but it was enjoyable enough.
Batman vs. Robin (2015)
The Court of Owls has been a good addition to the Bat universe in the comics, but in their first animated appearance, they fall a little flat. Damian is being willful and sneaking out to do crimefighting, and Batman wants him to slow it down a little. They run into Talon, and the Court tries to bring Bruce into the fold, but he declines (with punches) and everybody fights. It’s a little more complex than that, but not by much.
As with the rest of the latest batch of new movies, the fights in Batman vs. Robinare great. Hell, I think Talon even moved like Mugen from Samurai Champloo in his fight with Nightwing.
But the big problem here was the writing - it was a weird combination of on the nose and clumsy that took me out of the movie. Like at the end, when Talon is leading his army into Wayne Manor to fight Batman, and he’s already found out that Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same, but he walks into a room saying “End of the line, Bruce. Or should I say...Batman!” and it’s supposed to be this big dramatic moment, but he’s dressed as Batman, so it’s not really surprising that he’s deduced that Batman stands in front of him.
Or when the Court is first mentioned, it’s in a flashback conversation between Bruce and his father, after his father recites the Gotham-specific Court of Owls nursery rhyme. Bruce asks his father “Is it real?” and the conversation goes (rough paraphrasing)
“Is there a secret cabal of billionaires controlling Gotham and sending their Talon out to kill anyone who disagrees with them?”
“Well principles of mediocre storytelling dictate that that’s exactly what’s going to happen, Bruce. We didn’t even bother shading it a little.”
Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015)
As time has gone on, DC Universe Original Movies have drifted from comic adaptations to encompass projects like this one, an entirely original story that fulfills all the promise of the feature-length animated movies. Gods and Monstersfeels like a classic Elseworlds story, a world where small changes mean wholesale differences in the “modern day” world.
In it, Superman is the child of Not Jor-El and Lara, but Lara and General Zod, found and raised by undocumented immigrants on their way into the USA. Wonder Woman is Highfather’s granddaughter. Batman is Kirk Langstrom gone full vampire.
Like the best Elseworlds stories, there is plenty of fanservice (every DCU super-scientist except Professor Milo gets some face time), but it also wisely avoids the What If trap - there’s no mention of Diana or Bruce Wayne. Just a story about a violent, cynical Justice League coming to terms with a darker world. It’s really great.
Batman: Bad Blood (2016)
Bad Blood is technically an original story, but it might as well be Batman, Inc.: The Movie. Batman seemingly dies saving Batwoman from The Heretic (!) and his gang of z-lister backup. Oh, and we find out that Talia has a plot to hypnotize the most powerful people in the world into obeying her. Dick as Batman, Damian, Batwoman, and Luke Fox in the Batwing costume all have to save the day.
Dick Grayson is my third favorite Robin, but Dick and Damian are my favorite Batman & Robin pair, and as soon as I realized that that’s what this movie would be, I got excited. It’s a direct sequel to the last two Batman movies (Son of Batman and Batman vs. Robin), but it’s vastly superior in every way. The opening fight sequence might be the best out of all these movies, and even a full day after watching it for the first time, I’m still ASTOUNDED that they put The Heretic in there and didn’t make it silly or pointless.
Justice League vs. Teen Titans (2016)
This movie came at what seemed to be a weird transition time for DC Universe Original Movies. DC was pushing hard for everything to be Justice League related, hence the shoehorned in title and adult team. The story ended up being a very loose adaptation of the classic Teen Titans storyline, "The Terror of Trigon," where Raven's father, the lord of Hell, Trigon, attempts to take over Earth by controlling members of the League.
The end product is fairly middling. It suffers a bit from the weird continuity of the animated movies - it's also a loose sequel to the previous handful of DC movies. It's also hurt by something endemic to the Teen Titans features on this list: the story was already done better by the mid-aughts Teen Titans animated series. However, the fight scenes continue to improve over the prior movies, and that's enough to make this entertaining and watchable, even if the movie isn't really anything to write home about.
Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
Piping hot garbage.
Oh, you want more? Ok. Don't adapt Alan Moore stories.
[Editor's note: Jim...]
Okay fine. The original comic this movie was based on was roughly 60 pages long, enough content to fill probably 45 minutes without long, uncomfortable silences to pad the length. The story follows the Joker as he shoots Barbara Gordon in the spine, then kidnaps Commissioner Gordon, strips him naked, and makes him ride through a funhouse full of pictures of her naked and bleeding out. So rather than pad it, they put a half hour of prologue on the story where they turn Batgirl into a whining narcissist with a weird hot/cold sexual relationship with Batman and a Gay Best Friend (tm). This Batman/Batgirl relationship is probably the worst thing that Timm et al have foisted on Batman continuity - it came up in Batman Beyond, and it was super weird there, too.
Ultimately, the Joker is unsuccessful in his attempts to torture Commissioner Gordon into insanity. Maybe he should have just shown him this movie. The subpar animation alone probably would have worked.
Justice League Dark (2017)
Matt Ryan is a gem. TV's John Constantine has managed to successfully inhabit the role, from his own show on NBC, through Arrow and then here, in an animated story about DC's magical heroes banding together to save the world. Dr. Destiny the sneakily good and criminally underused villain, is causing regular people to hallucinate that they are surrounded by demons, making them commit horrible crimes against their fellow man. Constantine, Zatanna, Batman, and Deadman gather a team of mystical heroes, band together, and eventually defeat the bad guy.
This movie is a lot of fun. Ryan's voice and screenwriter Ernie Altbeck's script do a great job of capturing scumbag Constantine. The story ends up featuring Etrigan heavily, and that's always a good thing. Justice League Dark ended up being one of the best recent entries into the DC animated movie universe.
Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017)
Despite facing the same structural weaknesses as Justice League vs. Teen Titans, The Judas Contract overcomes almost all of them thanks to much stronger writing.
The Judas Contract was one of the first movies announced for this slate, but for a variety of reasons took the better part of a decade to come out. That's usually the kiss of death for a movie, but the strength of the source material is such that the various shifts that went into it - Damian as Robin, Jaime Reyes' Blue Beetle - ended up making the movie stronger. Terra, a geomorph, joins the Teen Titans as they adjust to life as a superhero team. Turns out she's a plant, put in place by Deathstroke the Terminator to rip the team apart from the inside.
The voice work is stellar. Christina Ricci makes Terra vulnerable, badass, and creepy all at the same time, and Miguel Ferrer does great work as Deathstroke in one of his final roles. And much like Justice League vs. Teen Titans, the fight scenes are exemplary, especially the ones involving Nightwing. The Judas Contract easily ranks in the top 5 of these animated movies.
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DC's plan to lure top talent: creator's rights.
Lost in the shuffle of movie announcements at San Diego Comic Con was one piece of potentially enormous news for the comics industry. IcV2, a nerd/pop culture industry publication, sat with DC co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee for an interview. In it, they dropped a bomb on the business:
Didio: Dark Matter is a huge influx in new characters into the DCU. What we did is we brought top talent on board. We have Jim (Lee). Andy Kubert, John Romita Jr. and a lot of key creators are coming on board to help really elevate and draw attention to these new characters, because it's so hard to get recognized in a crowded marketplace, so you really need the talent to help draw that attention...
All these talents are participating in the books, whether that's creator-owned, or taking equity positions. They have vested value in participating and helping creating this. If these books win, we all win, which is, I think, the fairest way to approach anything.
Equity positions is a HUGE deal.
The work-for-hire model is the foundation for a ton of heartbreak and exploitation throughout the history of the comics industry. Dating back to the creation of Superman and Batman, creators have been watching the fruits of their imaginations expanded into other mediums and usually saw almost nothing for compensation. This legacy led to multiple break points in the industry's history, from the struggle for recognition for Siegel and Shuster in the '70s, to Watchmen (then hailed as a milestone for the creators' community) or The Comics Journal's war against Marvel on Jack Kirby's behalf in the '80s, to the Image revolution and the creation of Milestone in the '90s, to the exodus of talent from Marvel and DC over the past decade.
One of the things that set DC apart, despite numerous instances of shoddy treatment of creators, is their history of providing creator participation checks to writers and artists for their work. Paul Levitz, Publisher at DC for an age, was known for making sure that his creators were taken care of - Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan, for example, used to see royalty checks not just for Knightfall trades, but for Bane's appearances in other media like the Lego games, or The Dark Knight Rises. This stopped, according to numerous anecdotes from around the industry (and most clearly defined by Gerry Conway, creator of Killer Frost) around the time DC Comics turned into DC Entertainment, in approximately 2009. This coincides, oddly enough, with the time when DC Comics started creatively circling the bowl, with sales trailing not too far behind them, held up only by relaunches and gimmick covers.
If DC's solution to their sales problems is for a creative reinvigoration of the line, and their path forward is to actually pay their workers more, then it might be time for the rest of the industry to take notice. Hell, the rest of the economy, for that matter.
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Lionsgate confirms it'd like to make more Twilight and The Hunger Games films - both only when the authors of each are ready.
The two most lucrative franchises to date on the Lionsgate asset book have been the Twilight films (that it acquired through its purchase of Summit Entertainment), and The Hunger Gamesseries (that it once upon a time bet the house on making). Many billions were attracted to both series.
Since both series came to an end, Lionsgate has always seemed understandably open to the idea of more movies. But in a quarterly earnings call yesterday, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer iterated with relation to Twilight and The Hunger Games, “There are a lot more stories to be told, and we’re ready to tell them when our creators are ready to tell those stories.”
That gives you a strong idea of where the fate of both boxsets lies. In the case of Twilight, it’s with author Stephanie Meyer. With The Hunger Games, it’s with author Suzanne Collins. Lionsgate, while keen, won’t press ahead with new films without the backing of the respective authors.
While it’s still as you were, then, it does at least confirm that in Lionsgate’s mind, both series are still potentially active. We’ll have more as we get it…
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While Ava DuVernay tackles fantasy film A Wrinkle in Time, she will executive produce the sci-fi novel adaptation Dawn.
Ava DuVernay propelled herself to the top tier of industry directors with her 2014 historical civil rights drama Selma. However, as the most prominent African-American female director out there, her subsequent choices in projects seem to be purposefully veering away from historical drama, designed to show her range as a visionary. Indeed, her attachment to Dawn, an adaptation of a sci-fi novel, seems to be the latest step in this endeavor.
According to Deadline, Ava DuVernay will serve as an executive producer for Dawn, an adaptation of the 1987 sci-fi novel by the late Octavia E. Butler – a Hugo and Nebula award-winner and the most prominent African-American female author to tackle the genre. DuVernay will be joined in that capacity by Charles D. King’s Macro company, et al. Butler, who passed away in 2006, is represented by estate curator Merrilee Heifetz of Writers House, LLC, with Gary Pearl.
However, don’t expect DuVernay to helm this ship, since Dawn will be directed and written by Victoria Mahoney, whose work mostly consists of TV episodes of shows such as Power, Gypsy, American Crime, Grey’s Anatomy and Survivor’s Remorse. She directed the 2011 film drama Yelling to the Sky, which featured actors such as Zoë Kravitz, Jason Clarke, Gabourey Sidibe, Tim Blake Nelson and, notably, former The Walking Dead cast member and soon-to-be Star Trek: Discovery star Sonequa Martin-Green.
Dawn is set in a far future Earth in the aftermath of devastation by nuclear war, which has been saved by contact with aliens. The central character, Lilith lyapo, awakens from years of suspended animation. She was initially chosen for a program to be amongst a select few humans tasked with reviving the others and begin the preparations to meet alien beings who have been rehabilitating the razed planet. Indeed, while the aliens – terrifying as they appear – seem to be benevolent, having used their advanced knowledge to cure cancer and other ailments, it seems that their help comes with a species-altering caveat that may be seen by many as a price too big to pay; one that makes Lilith an outcast amongst her people.
For Ava DuVernay, Dawn is the perfect synthesis of her current sci-fi/fantasy genre ambitions and her proclivity for profound socially-conscious content. She’s currently wrapping up post-production on A Wrinkle in Time, an adaptation of the classic 1963 fantasy novel – and children’s favorite – by Madeleine L'Engle, featuring an impressive cast with names such as Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peña, Bellamy Young, Zach Galifianakis, Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey.
Dawn has not set any specific dates.
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Gaiman's work makes crossing mediums look easy, but the 2007 Stardust film remains one of the best adaptations of his work...
Matthew Vaughn's film adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Stardust is officially a decade old, but it hasn't lost any of its magic. With an all-star cast that included Daredevil's Charlie Cox and Homeland's Claire Danes, a director who would go onto make X-Men: First Class and Kingsman: The Secret Service, and a story from the mind of Neil Gaiman, Stardust is a funny, clever, and heartfelt fairy tale of a movie that happens to be criminally underrated by most mainstream movie audiences.
On the tenth anniversary of its release, we're taking the time to talk about the reasons why Stardust remains one of the best Gaiman adaptations out there, even if the box office numbers didn't reflect that or if the story didn't remain faithful to the book...
The history of the book.
Stardust originally began publication life as a comic book — specifically a prestige-format, four-issue miniseries. With the story by Gaiman and the illustrations by Charles Vess, Stardust began life as an inherently visual tale, which is perhaps one of the reasons why it works so well as a film.
However, in 1999, Stardust was released as a more traditional novel by Gaiman without the illustrations from Hess. For me, this edition loses much of the story and magic of the original illustrated, comics-based version, which is perhaps why — when comparing the illustrations-less novel version of Stardust to the film version of Stardust — the former is left slightly wanting.
Luckily for all fans of the original Stardust comic-based storybook, Vertigo released a new hardcover edition in 2007 (to roughly coincide with the release of the movie) with 50 new pages of material, including some new artwork. Thus far, the Matthew Vaughn film is the only screen adaptation of Stardust...
The story of Stardust.
Stardust is a surprisingly complex story for a fairy tale adventure film that was also marketing as a family-friendly movie. The heart of the story comes in the quest of young Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox), who ventures out of his small town of Wall into the magical kingdom of Stormhold that lies just next door, on the otherside of a wall.
Tristan is on the search for a star that has fallen from the sky, a gift for his lady crush Victoria. Things get complicated, however, when he discovers the star is not a piece of celestial rock, as he assumed, but rather a living, breathing woman in the form of Claire Danes' Yvaine.
Elsewhere in Stormhold, others are searching for the star. Michelle Pheiffer's witch Lamia wants to cut out the star's heart and eat it so she and her sisters can continue to enjoy immortal life. The kingdom's royalty — a gaggle of cutthrout princes — are also on the hunt, as their dying father made a proclamation that whoever retrieved the stone around the star's neck would ascend to the throne.
Stardust juggles these multiple, interweaving storylines beautifully through imaginative, kinetic editing (one of Vaughn's hallmarks as a director). And, though many people point to the changing of the story's ending in the film, I find the movie's ending much better-paced and complementary to the other subtle (and not so subtle) changes the film makes to the book's worldscape.
Stardust's specialty lies in upending tropes in unexpected ways, while also celebrating them. It reminds me a lot of Hot Fuzz in that way. It is a great example of the Have Its Cake and Eat It Too mode of self-aware storytelling. In a rather cynical age, it manages to give us a satisfying fairy tale by subverting enough of its tropes to lure us hypnotically into embracing other ones. It doesn't always succeed — there a few too many damsel-in-distress moments for my liking — but, for the most part, its few flaws are overshadowed by its innumberable charms.
A great cast, led by Claire Danes & Charlie Cox.
Many of Stardust's aforementioned charms come in the quality of its expansive cast. Seriously, everyone is in this movie and they are giving it their all, making the script come to life with complexity, humor, and heart. In the central love story, we have Charlie Cox and Claire Danes as Tristan and Yvaine. Past that, highlights include Michelle Pheiffer's Lamia, Robert De Niro as Captain Shakespeare, and Mark Strong's Prince Septimus. (Strong would also go on to star in Vaughn's Kingsman as Merlin.)
Past that, we get some fun, memorable performances from Rupert Evertt as Prince Secundus, Peter O'Toole as the King of Stormhold, Henry Cavill as the prissy Humphrey, Ricky Gervais as the comedic Ferdy the Fence, and Sienna Miller as the haughty Victoria. And have I mentioned that it is all narrated by Ian McKellen? Yeah, the extras are basically all played by Oscar-winners in this movie.
For me, one of the chief strengths of the film over the book lies with the realness and development of the characters. That is in no small part to the impressiveness of this cast, but it also has something to do with the screenplay. While Gaiman tends to be more interested in archeypes, themes and prose, the film — perhaps by necessity, as a product of Hollywood — has much more interest in making these characters three-dimensional and relatable.
Which emphasis you prefer all depends on what kind of story-consumer you are, but, for me, Gaiman's archetypal characters tend to be the least interesting part of his imaginative works.
The changes from the book.
Anyone who has read both the book and seen the movie will know that the Stardust film, co-written by Vaughn and frequent collaborator Jane Goldman, changes quite a bit from its source material. As is common with adaptations, a lot is simplified — on both sides of the wall.
Tristan's home community is much less vast and complex. Likewise, the world of Stormhold is less strange and magical. In the book, there are all manner of magical creatures. For the sake of narrative simplicity or perhaps for budgetary concerns, that same scope of magical-kind is much more limited in the film.
The film also adds in an entire sequence around De Niro's Captain Shakespeare that is barely present in the book. For me, this is actually an important decision. Brushing past the potentially reductive depiction of Shakespeare's marginalized identity, for me, this is where the film makes one of its smartest decisions: the montage. I am a big proponent of the montage in Hollywood blockbusters that have any interest in building a believable, meaningful relationship for two characters who have just met.
A montage gives us the illusion that an indefinable amount of time has passed and (more importantly) that, in that time, a whole manner of significant interaction could have and probably has occurred. In a two-hour film, the montage can cover all manner of underdeveloped character and character dynamic sins, and more Hollywood blockbusters should take advantage of it.
In Stardust, there's no way the Captain Shakespeare montage could have lasted more than a few days at most, given that only a week passes over the course of Tristan's journey in Stormhold. However, this is where Tristan and Yvaine fall in love, this is where Tristan makes his transition from gawky shopboy to more confident man, this is where Stardust makes us believe in the true love it must to pull off its fairy tale ending.
There is also the matter of the book vs. film's endings. In the book ending, Lamia finds Yvaine in the market town near the wall, but — when she tries to take Yvaine's heart — Yvaine explains that she can't because she has already given it to Tristan. This is different from the film's more action-geared ending, which includes a fight between the reanimated corpse of Septimus and Tristan, as well as some rather extensive glass-smashing.
Ultimately, it is Yvaine who saves the day by using her love for Tristan to let out a burst of starshine, killing Lamia. Perhaps the larger change to the book's story is found in the epilogue. In the book, Tristan and Yvaine leave Stormhold for a time, leaving Una (Tristan's mother in charge). They eventually return, Tristan lives out his life as ruler, and then dies, leaving a heartbroken Yvaine to return to the sky alone.
In the film, the two live into their old age together as rulers of Stormhold, then — when they are very old — ascend to the sky to live as stars together. It is a thoroughly happy ending, one that doesn't make Tristan give up his ties to his family and friends in Wall, and one some Gaiman fans have problems with. For me, it is a minor point that has less to do with the story than the ending that occurs in the more immediate sense, completing Tristan's quest and Tristan and Yvaine's love story. And that ending is much better-paced and climactic than the one we get in the book.
Of course, the book is interested in much different things than the movie, and the less climactic, quieter ending reflects that. While the Stardust book is much more interested in engaging with and challenging pre-Tolkien English fantasy at a novelistic and prose level, the film doesn't even try to do the same. It would be a foolish attempt, after all, to try to mimick and subvert a style that lives so entirely in the pre-cinematic world. Instead, the Stardust film sets its sights on subverting and celebrating the three-act Hollywood blockbuster.
Gaiman's role in the movie.
Montages and ending specifics aside, all of the changes from the book to the film were made with the blessing of Gaiman, who also acted as a producer on the film and had some say in creative decisions. Speaking on the changes made for the Stardust film to MTV, Gaiman said:
What I did with Matthew was this thing you must never do. Don't do this; it is very, very wrong: I gave him the option for nothing. I phoned him up and said, 'OK, Stardust is yours; I really trusted him, and you don't run into that very often. He offered me the script, but I said, 'No, I wrote the novel, but this is your film, your vision. But I will help you.'
The first thing I did was find him a writer, Jane Goldman, who hadn't written a script before but I loved her novels, I loved her journalism, and she got the book. I was involved with the casting and set locations too.
For me, Stardust is one of the few examples of a film adaptation that aren't afraid to make changes that work much better for the format. Personally, I like the Stardust film more than the Stardust novel — though both contain their own, separate joys. In an era of remakes and adaptations, more filmmakers and writers of adapted screenplays could learn from Matthew Vaughn's and Jane Goldman's example.
What would a Stardust sequel have looked like?
Den of Geekchatted with Matthew Vaughn in 2015 about what a Stardust sequel would have looked like. The director already had a rough idea in place, if the movie had made enough money to warrant moving forward on another one — which, sadly, it did not.
Here's what Vaughn said:
I had a really crazy fun idea for a Stardust 2. The opening scene was Charlie Cox's character, being the king and throwing out the necklace. This time the necklace goes over the wall and bounces off Big Ben, and you're suddenly in London in the early 1960s, with these mad kings and princes and princesses running around London. All on the quest for the stone.
What sets Stardust apart.
Despite its status as both an adaptation of existing material and an interest in commenting on so many of the genre tropes that have come before, Stardust still feels like a wholly original work. It also manages to do the fairy tale genre with a commitment to whimsical sincerity that is rarely seen in today's media climate — especially for adults.
One needs look no further than the ridiculously popular Game of Thrones to see what kind of fantasy drama is valued in today's pop culture climate. It's downright refreshing to revisit a fantasy that doesn't let its use of irony ever endanger its commitment to comforting fairy tale values that are all-to-often dismissed as unimportant or childish.
No, Stardust manages to capture some of the silly self-awareness and unabashed sentimentalism of Princess Bride in a contemporary movie-making era where only one of those things is truly valued. For that — and for so much else — Stardust remains one of the best Neil Gaiman adaptations out there, even (and perhaps especially) when it's not particularly Gaiman-like at all.
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Katie Holmes is thinking good thoughts as she uses her gift to impart the wisdom of The Secret.
Katie Holmes is getting what she wants and that’s a good thing. With the power of positive thinking, the former Dawson’s Creek star and Scientology escapee will use her gift to manifest a feature film adaptation of hit 2006 book The Secret. Rhonda Byrne didn’t just write a self-help book series with her works. She created the law of attraction, which breathed new life into the New Age spiritual movement. The Secret spawned the follow-ups The Power in 2009, The Magic in 2010, and Hero in 2013. Byrne aims to bring joy to the world by helping people control the universe with their minds, using the teachings of Madame Blavatsky and Norman Vincent Peale and a little bit of quantum physics.
The Secret will be directed by Andy Tennant, known for romantic comedies like Sweet Home Alabama and Hitch. The adapted screenplay is being written by Bekah Brunstetter, (NBC’s This Is Us), with help from Tennant and Rick Parks (Ever After: A Cinderella Story).
The Secret will be told through the eyes of a widow with three children, played by Holmes, who hires a handyman to fix her house during a storm. He winds up fixing her soul and the rebuilds the universe around her.
The film is being produced by Robert Cort with Covert Media CEO Paul Hanson.
“I am so excited that the film version of The Secret is finally here,” Byrne said in a statement. “This movie will not only be a great thrill for The Secret fans across the planet, it’s also certain to ripple out and touch millions more people.”
Holmes has been filming The Gift, with Sir Patrick Stewart. She has will next be seen in Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky and in a cameo in his all-female Ocean’s Eleven spinoff, Ocean’s Eight. She also played in Go, Pieces of April,Wonder Boys, and Batman Begins.
Released in November 2006, The Secret was on the New York Times bestseller list for 190 weeks. USA Today called it one of the top 20-bestselling books of the past 15 years. Rhonda Byrne was listed in Time magazine’s “The Time 100: The People Who Shape Our World.” Australian born Rhonda also produced the 2006 documentary film The Secret.
Marvel's Merc with a Mouth, now movie star, Deadpool, is getting an adult-oriented FXX animated series.
Deadpool is coming to television… in animated form, anyway. The deadly fourth-wall-wrecking Marvel Comics character played by Ryan Reynolds, who managed to turn the rules of the blockbuster film industry upside down with an R-rated, relatively low-budget, but supremely lucrative 2016 solo film, is getting an accompanying animated series. However, don’t expect this Marvel television tentpole offering to cater to the kiddies.
Indeed, the Deadpool animated series, which will be aimed at adults, was given a straight-to-series order by Fox cable outlet FXX. The series, produced by Marvel Television in association with FX Productions and ABC Signature Studios, will manifest with a 10-episode inaugural season set to debut in 2018. The project has yet to cast any voice actors.
Deadpool Animated Series Latest News
At the Television Critics Association press tour, FX boss John Landgraf provided a bit of context for the Deadpool animated series, specifically where it stands in regard to the Ryan Reynolds-starring 2016 hit film and its 2018-scheduled sequel. According to Landgraf (via Screen Rant):
“Deadpool will be really different from the movies. It has a different tone and editorial voice. [We] wanted to make something distinctly different from the movies.”
Consequently, the manifestation of Deadpool in the (adult) animated television arena will seemingly stand as its own continuity. Of course, that would hardly be unusual when it comes to animated series adaptions of popular movie tentpoles – it’s not like The Real Ghostbusters was ever considered movie canon, right? Indeed, even the Fox-located Deadpool’s property cousins over at Marvel Studios such as The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy have animated series that, while clearly showcasing necessary amounts of thematic synergy with their movie counterparts, are clearly taking place in a diifferent continuity.
However, for Deadpool, thematic synergy will manifest with its adult-aimed nature, likely to emulate the crudeness, lewdness, libidinousness and unbridled ultraviolence of the films. With (the insanely busy) Donald Glover and brother Stephen attached as showrunners, the series should showcase quality humor with pop culture-fixated sensibilities.
Deadpool Animated Series Details
Interestingly, one of the brains behind the animated adaptation is Donald Glover, who created the series with his brother Stephen Glover. Donald, an actor known from his run on NBC sitcom Community, the 2015 box-office smash The Martian, who will play Lando Calrissian in the untitled 2018 Star Wars Han Solo film, is already working under the Fox television umbrella starring in last fall’s imminently returning FX freshman drama Atlanta, which he created and regularly writes with Stephen. The Glover brothers will serve as showrunners, writers and executive producers on the Deadpool series, joined by additional executive producers in Marvel’s Jeph Loeb and Jim Chory. As an enthusiastic Loeb states:
“How much more fun could this be? Deadpool, Donald and FX – the perfect fit for the Merc with the Mouth. We’re thrilled that our relationship with FX that started with Legion continues with what is sure to be a groundbreaking show in adult animation.”
Indeed, Fox has just started to take advantage of their rights possession to Marvel Comics’ X-Men mythos in the small screen arena with a peak television offering earlier this year in the Dan Stevens-starring Legion and just debuted the teaser trailer for this fall’s mothership network-set mutant ensemble series The Gifted. While 2016’s Deadpool became a $783 million global hit off a (contextually) meager $58 million budget, it was buttressed by its R-rated antics, rife with coarse language and the occasional bit of nudity; something that makes this animated endeavor a surprise. However, with FXX in place as an edgier platform for the raunchy veteran series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the animated spy series Archer, it appears that an adult-oriented Deadpool animated series has the perfect prospective home.
Deadpool Animated Series Release Date
While the untitled Deadpool animated series set a loose premiere for 2018, we can probably count on Fox’s desire for IP synergy to see it premiere somewhere around the time that movie sequel Deadpool 2 hits theaters on June 1, 2018.
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*This article was updated from its originally published form with new information.
Spider-Man and Rey will join star opposite each other in Doug Liman's adaptation of Patrick Ness' YA novel.
Chaos Walking, at first glance, may seem like just another YA novel adaptation in a field increasingly filled with failed, forgotten attempts. However, two of Hollywood’s hottest new names (riding under the Disney IP umbrella,) in current Spider-Man star Tom Holland and Star Wars sequel star Daisy Ridley are auspiciously joining forces to headline the Lionsgate film project based on Patrick Ness's 2008-2010 novel series.
The premise of Chaos Walking centers on a dystopian future (admittedly, a worn YA standard), this time taking place on a planetary colony in which the survivors live in fear of a virus known as "The Noise," which carries the primary symptom manifest as a stream of visions that images, words and sounds shared by everyone else. In essence, it could be seen as an allegorical social media malady.
Chaos Walking Cast
Nick Jonas will join the cast of Chaos Walking to play Davy Prentiss Jr., reports THR. The character is described as a young soldier in the army of Mayor Prentiss (Mads Mikkelsen), who is also apparently his son. Davy is, at least in this chapter, defined by jealousy as his dad seems to be taking his longtime rival Todd Hewitt (Holland), seemingly ignoring his own flesh and blood. – Sounds a bit like the Peter Parker/Harry Osborn dynamic that Holland’s Spider-Man: Homecoming was missing.
Jonas, of course, was introduced to the world as part of a trio of sibling Disney performers the Jonas Brothers, notably seen in musical projects such as the Camp Rock series. However, his transition into real acting has been steady, notably on the mixed-martial-arts-centric Audience/DirecTV original series Kingdom, which just concluded its three-season run on August 2. He’s also been seen on Fox’s Scream Queens and notably fielded a recurring role as a creepy villain on CBS’s Hawaii Five-0, playing Ian Wright, a homicidal hacker who gives the task force a handful of problems.
Chaoes Walking Cast
Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming) plays protagonist Todd Hewitt.
Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) co-stars as Viola Eade.
Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) plays the villain, Mayor Prentiss.
Demián Bichir (Alien: Covenant) plays Ben.
Kurt Sutter (Son of Anarchy creator) plays Cillian.
Chaos Walking Details
The young actors currently leading the Spider-Man and Star Wars franchises, respectively, will be in front of the camera before Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow). No one knows exactly when the film will go into production or what the potential release date may be, considering the hectic schedules of the talent involved, but anticipation is high. Holland’s work in the MCU, Ridley’s completion of the Star Wars trilogy, and Liman’s appointment as the director of Dark Universe, a.k.a. Justice League Dark surely are first priority.
Eclectic screenwriter Charlie Kaufman once took a pass at the script when Robert Zemeckis was attached to the project back in 2012, but Jamie Linden (Money Monster) developed the latest draft with Gary Spinelli (American Made) and Lindsey Beer (Barbie). Chaos Walking is part one in author Patrick Ness’ sci-fi trilogy, which you can read the synopsis for below:
Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.
We’ll have more details about the project as they become available.
Chaos Walking Release Date
Chaos Walking will disrupt the order of movie theaters when it arrives on March 1, 2019.
Read and download the full Den of Geek Special Edition magazine here!
Get a load of the Flying Fox, Batman's new plane designed to transport all of the members of the Justice League!
This article contains some Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice spoilers.
This is the one that the DC Extended Universe is building towards. Five years after The Avengers showed us that it was possible to pull off a non-mutant superhero team on the big screen, we'll finally see a JusticeLeaguemovie. Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice director Zack Snyder has wrapped filming on Justice League, from a script by Batman v Superman's Chris Terrio.
There's going to be a HUGE Warner Bros. presentation in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday, and that's when we expect to get a new trailer, and a slew of other DCEU announcements. We'll update this with all that info when it happens. Until then, here's everything else we know...
Justice League News
EW has dropped a new piece of concept art that reveals the Flying Fox, a new plane designed by Batman that will be used by the Justice League to get around in the movie. As opposed to some of the sleeker, smaller jets you've seen Batman pilot over the years, the Flying Fox is apparently a big carrier.
“You can put three Batmobiles in the lower part of it,” said production designer Patrick Tatopoulos about the Flying Fox. “I didn’t want to do a sleek airplane; it needed to feel like an extremely avant-garde classic. With the maneuverability of a jet—but it can actually carry things.”
The plane actually has three stories in its interior!
“The bottom part of the jet is a huge cargo bay, which the Batmobile sits in,” said Tatopoulos. “The second floor is like a cultural center, with computer terminals. The third story is the cockpit. Whatever floor you are on, you can see [the other] two stories.”
Check out the Flying Fox below:
Read and download the full Den of Geek SDCC Special Edition magazine here!
Justice League Trailer
Here's all the footage that has been released so far...
The new Justice League trailer!
The first trailer:
And here's a look at the first footage that arrived at SDCC 2016! This was our first glimpse of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman working together on the big screen.
Justice League Movie Release Date
Justice League is scheduled for a November 17th, 2017 release. The complete DC superhero movie release calendar can be found here.
Justice League Movie Villain
In order for the Justice League to form, they need a threat with power levels that only a team of heroes could take down, right?
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice made it pretty explicit that Darkseid is on his way to this world, and there were several visual cues for those who are interested. We broke those down (along with lots more comic references in the movie) right here. But he isn't the villain of the Justice League movie. A deleted scene from Batman v Superman released online offered a look at a monstrous creature on a Kryptonian ship, who turned out to be another Fourth World related despot (and Jack Kirby creation), Steppenwolf.
Steppenwolf is basically Darkseid's cousin, a powerful warrior from Apokolips who wields a pretty crazy energy axe.
Ciaran Hinds (you may know him as Mance Rayder on Game of Thrones which makes him a particularly cool choice for this part) is playing Steppenwolf in the film, and the actor spoke about how they got him into character. "Basically they’re going to construct something, digitally, and then they will use my eyes and mouth,"the actor told The Independent. Hinds describes Steppenwolf as "old, tired, still trying to get out of his own enslavement to Darkseid, [but] he has to keep on this line to try and take over worlds.”
Here's what Steppenwolf looked like in that Batman v Superman deleted scene:
And here's Ciaran Hinds as Mance Rayder. You may start your Photoshop engines accordingly...
It's still inevitable that we'll see Darkseid in these movies, and he'll probably still be a presence in the first one. DC Comics used him as the catalyst for the formation of the Justice League in the current comic book series. He's a pretty big gun to burn this early, though, so holding him back for Justice League Part Two sound about as logical as anything else we've heard.
Hit the next page for more info on the cast and story!
For years, Stephen King has been crafting a fictional universe that revolves around The Dark Tower.
Editor's Note: This guide tries to keep it light on the spoilers, but there are some, gunslinger. This article originally appeared on Jan. 30, 2015.
For the past four decades, Stephen King, an American master of letters, has shown time and time again why he's the king of pop fiction. Whether you've only read his horror stuff, or are all about his hard techno-fantasy books, you've probably read more than one of King's works and have undoubtedly started to see the connections that form. Because for almost the same amount of time as his entire professional career, King has been creating his very own fictional universe.
You see, King has written several books that connect in very specific ways, whether they share characters or plot points or locations or monsters. These "standalone" works are part of a much larger meta-story. Books like The Stand, Eyes of the Dragon, Insomnia, Hearts in Atlantis, 'Salem's Lot, and Everything's Eventual in some way affect the outcome of The Dark Tower series, which you could almost refer to as "Crisis on Infinite Kings" if you're a comic book fan. But the "Crisis" of reality that takes place in The Dark Tower books is probably best left for another, much bigger article.
I want to take a look at how King got to that series by first examining the essential books a reader needs to understand the larger King universe. I won't be cross-referencing every single little connection in the books, but rather provide a good look at the Kingverse in broader strokes. If you want an intense flowchart of connections, though, check this out. So let's begin...
'Salem's Lot (1975)
Why it's important: Father Callahan
Father Callahan's story spans 29 years and 4 books, making him one of the most important characters in the entire Kingverse. The story begins with his fall from grace in King's seminal novel about a vampire that decides to move to the town of Jerusalem's Lot, Maine. You'll find that King loves doing terrible things to Maine, where most of his tales take place...Because it's his home state, I guess.
The vampire, whose name is Barlow, begins causing all sorts of havoc in the town, biting the townspeople and infecting them with vampirism. Pretty soon, Jerusalem's Lot is plagued with the undead, who are thirsty for blood. A particularly terrifying moment involves a school bus full of vampire children that scared the crap out of me when I was a kid.
Along with the novel's protagonist, Ben Mears, Father Callahan decides to fight back against Barlow and his vampire army. But when Callahan confronts Barlow, he stumbles in his faith in God, and Barlow shatters the cross in the Father's hand. Then, in a sick punishment and heinous show of strength, Barlow forces Callahan to drink of his blood. From that point on, Callahan is no longer able to step into a church, feeling the same effect vampires do when before a cross. He leaves the town in shame.
But the real story begins from that point on. He returns in The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla, and we get to enjoy King's best redemption tale, as Callahan regains his faith and gets his hard-earned revenge on the evil vampires that plague this world and all the others.
The Stand (1978)
Why it's important: Randall Flagg, The Big Battle Between Good and Evil, Postapocalyptic Kansas, The Cyclical Nature of the Kingverse
In case you don't know, this is early King -- his best era, in my opinion -- at its most ambitious. This sprawling novel tells the story of two groups of survivors after a weaponized superflu known as "Captain Trips" obliterates most of the Earth's population. As you can imagine, these groups are at odds with each other, which triggers the first big battle between good and evil in the Kingverse. The winner? Well, the outcome is pretty shocking and definitely worth a read. At the end of the novel, in a pretty grim moment, the remaining characters wonder what they can learn from their past mistakes, but they can't come up with an answer. King seems to say that humanity is meant to commit these same atrocities over and over. It's like an episode of The Twilight Zone without any hope.
But the most important thing about this novel is its villain, who pretty much ends up being the BIG BAD of the entire Kingverse, although it isn't immediately apparent. A master of disguise, deceit, and all things evil, this novel introduces readers to Randall Flagg, an all-out agent of chaos who would go on to stalk other worlds, including the ones of The Dark Tower series. Flagg can rally others to do his bidding and wage war against the forces of light, and that's what he's often up to. But his big scheme isn't apparent until his very last appearance in the final Dark Tower book. At the end of the day, what do all men with power want?
Roland Deschain, the gunslinging protagonist of The Dark Tower books and the main hero of the entire Kingverse, runs into Flagg at several points in the series. At one point, the two meet in The Stand's version of postapocalyptic Topeka, Kansas. It's a very nice nod to this book.
The Talisman (1984)
Why it's important: The Territories, Twinners
Things get a bit funky in this novel by King and collaborator Peter Straub, who's a horror legend in his own right. The most important lesson you'll get from this book, which arrived two years after the first Dark Towernovel, The Gunslinger, is that King loves parallel universes and parallel versions of characters. Although The Gunslinger hinted at these other worlds -- Jake Chambers' famous line "Go, then. There are other worlds than these" comes to mind -- The Talisman delves deeper into the concept.
In the novel, little Jack Sawyer must save his mother from cancer by finding a mythical crystal called "the Talisman." While on his journey, Jack learns how to switch between the world he knows and an alternate fantasy version known as The Territories, where there exists parallel versions of the people in our world known as "Twinners." The parallel version of Jack has died, and so he's able to travel between both worlds. Like all good fiction, this is a special circumstance, since most other individuals usually have their twinners in the other world, but even then, they can flip between bodies with their counterparts. It's the kind of string theory that will make your head spin.
The nature of The Territories was later retconned a bit in the sequel, Black House, to be a parallel version of Mid-World, the world on which the true Dark Tower -- the center of all creation and the point in the Kingverse that holds up all of reality -- is located. All of a sudden, Jack Sawyer might be the Twinner of Jake Chambers himself. This is all good fun if you have the patience.
Why it's important: Pennywise, Energy Vampires, The Macroverse
Even if you haven't read the book or seen the TV film, you probably know about King's evil clown monster that preys on children from the sewers of Derry, Maine. (Yes, it's always Maine!) Chances are that you think clowns are scary JUST because you heard about this story or saw a promo or anything at all resembling this terrifying clown's face.
First and foremost, this big horror novel is worth reading for the ridiculous and gruesome story alone. A group of friends who have been haunted all their lives by the memory of the demonic clown must return to their hometown and destroy Pennywise once and for all. It's another great battle between good and evil that's not to be missed.
In terms of larger connections, there are three things you should know: 1) Pennywise is an enemy of The Turtle, one the guardians of the six beams that hold the worlds together and lead to the Dark Tower. So basically, yeah, Pennywise is one of the big bad guys of the Kingverse; 2) Pennywise is an energy vampire, a kind of monster that feeds on emotion, much like Dandelo, who is one of the villains in The Dark Tower VII; and 3) Pennywise is from a place called The Macroverse, which is like Todash Darkness -- a sort of nothingness that exists between alternate dimensions in the Kingverse where all the really awful creatures come from. Think H.P. Lovecraft's Great Old Ones. Although it's never stated that The Macroverse is the same thing as Todash Darkness, they sound like the same awful place. King might've just missed a retcon.
Eyes of the Dragon (1987)
Why it's important: Randall Flagg can traverse different worlds and times, the land of Delain
Okay, I'm going to draw a theory here because it's wide open: the most obvious connections to the Kingverse in Eyes of the Dragon(the first King book I ever read) are King Roland and his advisor, Flagg. While Flagg is the same evil sorcerer from The Stand -- this was technically his first official appearance since that book, although he'd been in disguise all along since 1982's The Gunslinger -- the origin of King Roland is still open to speculation. My theory is that he's Roland Deschain's Twinner (remember those?) from a parallel world, although King Roland lived way before gunslinging Roland.
Anyway, this a fantastic high fantasy tale that King decided to work on when his daughter asked him to write something that she could read. You know, something that wouldn't make her cry at night...
Eyes of the Dragon is still one of my favorites and a spectacular entry point into the genre if you haven't jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon yet. It's the tale of two brothers, who at first fight for the throne of their dead father in the Kingdom of Delain, but must join forces to defeat a much darker threat. That's the very watered-down summary.
The most important thing you learn in this novel is that Flagg can travel through different worlds and times. No matter where you are, the evil wizard can get you. And he was able to flee Delain and into Roland Deschain's world at some point after this novel, because Roland later crossed paths with two men from Delain who were chasing the wizard. Delain is somehow connected to Mid-World. How? You'll have to do the math.
Why it's important: The Crimson King, Patrick Danville, The Purpose vs. The Random
Insomnia is a really weird 800+ page book with some pretty strong connections to the Kingverse. To try to explain the plot or endorse the novel (it's definitely my least favorite on this list) would be a bit of a stretch. This is for the most seasoned Constant Readers, but it's also required reading to really understand the backstory of two pivotal characters in the final phase of King's meta-story.
Basically, the main character, Ralph Roberts, has insomnia and develops the ability to see the auras of life force that surround other people. He can also see these white-coated beings known as "little bald doctors," who recruit him to fight the Crimson King, the supreme ruler of the Red (aka The Random). Yeesh, he's the leader of dark side, okay? It is revealed that the things that are happening in the Kingverse -- this recurring battle between good and evil throughout the novels -- are part of a larger conflict between The Random and The Purpose (aka the good guys, I guess...).
In this novel, the Crimson King is especially interested in killing a little boy named Patrick Danville, who will one day grow up to help Roland save the Dark Tower. Oh yeah, the Crimson King is trying to bring down the tower so that he can rule over the chaos in the aftermath. Moving on.
Hearts in Atlantis (1999)
Why it's important: Ted Brautigan, The Low Men in Yellow Coats, The Crimson King
The Crimson King is pulling his bullshit again in this collection of two novellas and three short stories. But first of all, Hearts in Atlantis is a heartfelt piece of work by King about conflict, childhood, memory, and hope. It's a great book about the Vietnam War and a fine addition to his longer fantasy yarn.
A little boy named Bobby Garfield meets an older man named Ted Brautigan, and his life is changed forever. Brautigan, who has the psychic abilities needed to bring down the Dark Tower, has been running from the forces of the Crimson King for quite some time, and he thinks he can avoid the conflict between The Random and The Purpose in 1960s Connecticut. Boy is he wrong. The Crimson King sends his henchmen, the low men in yellow coats, to hunt Brautigan down. Eventually, he gets him, but not before passing on some of his powers to Bobby.
Brautigan later aids Roland in his quest against the Crimson King. Good for him!
Everything's Eventual (2002)
Why it's important: Dinky Earnshaw, Little Sisters of Eluria
This short story collection has some whoppers in it! The first tale, for example, "Autopsy Room Four" is an insta-classic. Read all of these stories and call me in the morning.
"The Little Sisters of Eluria" is a little tale that precedes Roland Deschain's quest in The Dark Tower novels. His adventure is still in its infancy, but he's already getting himself into trouble. After battling some Slow Mutants (King's version of zombies when they're in Mid-World) and losing, Roland is saved by the Little Sisters, who pretend to be nurses but are actually vampires. Remember, all of the vampires in all of these books are bad guys. No Lestats here.
In my opinion, this prequel story isn't really necessary for the larger enjoyment of the Kingverse, but it's there if you want a little bit of fun. At the time, this was King's first Dark Tower story since 1997's Wizard and Glass. He'd finish up the remaining three books in the next two years.
Meanwhile, "Everything's Eventual" tells the story of a psychic assassin named Dinky Earnshaw who works for the Trans Corporation, a company that's using his particular gift (the ability to make people kill themselves) for personal gain. The story is fairly simple: Dinky is planning his escape (and hopefully a name change) from the corporation. Dinky is also captured by The Random after this story, but manages to escape and, like Ted Brautigan, helps Roland defeat the Crimson King.
The Dark Tower series (1982-2004)
Why it's important: Crisis on Infinite Kings, Mid-World, The Dark Tower, Final Showdown with Flagg & Crimson King, Stephen King is a character
This is the big one. The maxiseries. The meta-story that includes Stephen King himself as an alternate version of the author -- a dead alternate version that doesn't survive the accident that King actually suffered in 1999. A fantasy western that leads to the final destination in King's cycle of stories: the Dark Tower.
To tell you too much about these seven books would be to rob you of an epic, hard-earned reading experience. The final confrontation between good and evil, a journey through multiple parallel worlds, vampires, demons, gunslingers, evil wizards. Flagg and the Crimson King's plans in full swing. The very strange Mid-World -- the land on which the entire fate of our universe (and others) lie.
You have this guide. The books are out there. Go, then. There are other worlds than these.
*Dark Tower illustrations by Michael Whelan.
John Saavedra will talk to you about the Kingverse all night if properly drunk. Offer him a drink on Twitter.
Here's everything you need to know about Marvel's The Defenders on Netflix.
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 Martian, Lost) returning as executive producer. Marvel's The Defenders Netflix series will consist of eight episodes (the usual count for their assorted solo series if 13).
We recently had a behind the scenes look at the show with the stars and showrunner. You can read the full article here.
Here's everything you need to know...
The Defenders Release Date
A security footage-style teaser video revealed that The Defenders will premiere on August 18, 2017.
The Defenders Review
The Defenders doesn't have any room for filler with eight episodes. The show needs to get four heroes who (with the exception of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones) don't know each other, who have very little in common, and less reason to even be aware of each other's existence, let alone work together, to meet. You might just be willing to forgive The Defenders if it decided to rush into things and find a convenient excuse to put Matt Murdock, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Danny Rand in a room together and send them off to the ninja beatdown party.
The Defenders Trailer
Here's the first trailer...
Huge points for appropriate use of Nirvana's "Come as You Are."
And here's the latest trailer...
And some clips...
— The Defenders (@TheDefenders) July 22, 2017
— The Defenders (@TheDefenders) July 23, 2017
Netflix released promo starring Stan Lee himself that doubles as a kind of spiritual recap of the Marvel Netflix series thus far and a preview of The Defenders. Besides Stan Lee's narration, the most notable aspect of this preview may be The Punisher's appearance towards the end of the clip. Could this be a hint that he will appear in The Defenders?
Read and download the full Den of Geek SDCC Special Edition magazine here!
The Defenders Story
It's not much, but it's all we've got...
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.
And how about this cool poster from Joe Quesada?
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.
Elodie Yung will appear as Elektra. This show gets better by the day.
Jessica Henwick, who first appeared 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 Defenders (@TheDefenders) November 3, 2016
Supporting characters from other Netflix shows like Luke Cage, Jessica 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.
— The Defenders (@TheDefenders) November 2, 2016
— The Defenders (@TheDefenders) October 31, 2016
— The Defenders (@TheDefenders) November 1, 2016
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.
Ms. Weaver spoke to Movies.com 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."
After a very cold reception, can Stephen King's The Dark Tower franchise be saved on the big screen or the small?
This Dark Tower article contains spoilers.
You've probably heard by now that The Dark Tower, the movie based on Stephen King's beloved fantasy-western-sci-fi-horror series, is the latest major blockbuster to receive a cold reception by fans and critics alike. Despite the fact that The Dark Toweropened at number one in the box office last weekend, making a little over $19 million in the U.S. (the irony of 19 million should not be lost on King fans), most view this adaptation as a failure. Certainly, the film's 18% "Rotten" score on Rotten Tomatoes hasn't done the film any favors.
While I thought the film was an earnest attempt at tackling King's sprawling Dark Tower universe for a general audience, our very own Don Kaye tore the film to shreds in his review. And I agree with him on almost every single point. While I'm not going to break down every issue with the movie in this article (I think that's probably beating a dead horse after the week this movie has had), I did write more about that here.
Instead, I want to talk about how Roland's journey to the Tower might be saved. At the moment, Sony and MRC are expecting the movie to earn around $55 million in the domestic box office, which means the studios will really have to put butts in chairs in the international market in order to turn a profit for this $60 million movie. As of this writing, the movie sits at a little over $33 million worldwide.
There's also the matter of the movies the adaptation was competing against. Kidnap, a thriller starring Halle Berry (X-Men), was the only other movie released on August 4 that made it into the top five at the box office, making a little over $10 million. The other three films were Dunkirk in 2nd, The Emoji Moviein 3rd, and Girls Trip in 4th. All three of these movies have spent at least one week in the top five at the box office and are winding down. Basically, The Dark Tower didn't have to fight too hard to make it to number one in a very weak weekend for new releases.
These are all things that the studios will be considering when going forward with a sequel -- or perhaps a reboot. There's also a TV series in the works. Despite the film's critical thrashing (Varietycalled the movie a "glittering trash pile of deja vu action pulp"), Sony and MRC seem to be moving forward with the show, which would adapt the story of Roland Deschain's younger years as told by his older self in Wizard & Glass, the fourth book in The Dark Tower series. Glen Mazzara, who, in my humble opinion, helmed the best season of The Walking Dead to date, has signed on to serve as showrunner. Even stars Idris Elba (Roland) and Tom Taylor (Jake) are set to appear in the series.
In a way, the TV series would give Constant Readers exactly what they wanted in the first place. It doesn't take a seasoned King fan to know that his eight-book series makes for a HUGE fictional universe with lots of characters, settings, and plotlines. It doesn't help that The Dark Tower also involves time travel, tons of flashbacks, Lynchian moments of surrealist horror, a war between the forces of good and evil, alternate Earths, a meta-narrative involving King himself, and tons of connections and references to other books by the writer. It's truly a miracle that the movie, which combines bits and pieces from all of the books for a remixed stew of people, places, and plot elements, is anywhere near coherent at all.
It can't be understated: director Nikolaj Arcel and screenwriters Akiva Goldsman, Anders Thomas Jensen, and Jeff Pinkner shot themselves in the foot with Roland's Widowmakers when they decided to combine so many different things into one movie. There's no easier way to anger hardcore fans than to deviate from the source material, especially when the end result of all the mixing and matching changes so much of the journey in the books.
*Illustration by Michael Whelan.
It will always astound me that the filmmakers made adapting The Dark Tower so hard on themselves. If Sony and MRC wanted to make a summer blockbuster on the cheap, one that would hopefully spark a major franchise for the studios, why not just adapt the first book? The Gunslinger is basically a Western that takes place completely in Mid-World. There are only three main characters, just a handful of supporting characters, and a few monsters. Certainly the more minimalist approach of setting the movie in the Mohaine Desert, where Roland chases the Man in Black, would have really agreed with the budget.
The filmmakers explained away the adaptation's questionable choice of setting the movie in the middle of things (it covers most of the New York portion of The Waste Lands, the third book, and then kind of skips around from one book to the next) by making it a sequel to the book series, which ends right where the adventure started -- with Roland giving chase to the Man in Black. The movie picks up at the beginning of one of these restarts. While this makes The Dark Tower a canonical continuation of the story, it's no wonder it left so many fans dissatisfied, especially when so many familiar story elements felt completely out of place. (The Battle of Devar-Toi in the third act was the part that bothered me the most, tell the truth.)
When I spoke to King just a few days before the wide release of the movie, he said that the changes had been made with general audiences in mind.
"Some of those [narrative] decisions are related to telling a story that the general public will get," said King. "Not just the hardcore Dark Tower fans, the guys who show up at the fantasy conventions with Roland tattoos or something like that. You have to keep in mind that of all the books that I've written, the fans of the Dark Tower books are the most zealous, the most fervent fans of all, but they make up a small subgroup of the people who read books like The Shining or Misery. You know, they're an acquired taste. They're fantasy."
*Illustration by Jae Lee.
After only a week in theaters, it's all but clear that this was an error in judgement on the studios and filmmakers' parts. Despite the box office numbers, which aren't great to begin with for a blockbuster, the reviews and fan reaction are indicative of a single, basic truth: the fans want an adaptation that takes its time with the storylines, fleshes out the characters, and is faithful to the source material. They don't want a 90-minute "standalone introduction,"as Arcel put it to Indiewire, the plays like a greatest hits album. They want the epic saga they fell in love with.
The way to save The Dark Tower franchise is to continue it solely as a TV series, where it can have the space it needs to really tell its story. The small screen is where the franchise belonged in the first place. Actually, the plan of splitting The Dark Tower into both a movie and a television series has been in place for years. Producer Ron Howard even tried to put The Dark Tower on HBO around the same time a little show called Game of Thrones was set to premiere on the network.
While HBO wasn't yet so hot on fantasy in 2011, there's no doubt that an HBO Dark Tower series would have been a match made in heaven. It still could be...except that the network has since created its own Western sci-fi juggernaut, Westworld. The Dark Tower, a rocky franchise at best, and Westworld, a proven success, would clash on HBO's slate, although perhaps Sony and MRC could sell the series as a fuse of the best things in Game of Thrones and Westworld, which it ostensibly is, with a bit of horror for good measure.
It's clear that HBO is currently searching for the next Game of Thrones, which is the reason why the network is developing so many different spinoffs of the fantasy show at the moment, and The Dark Tower series could be that replacement. The studios are shooting for a 10-13 episode order for the series, which is the right fit for premium networks such as HBO or streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Yet, it would be difficult to convince HBO or any other network or service that the franchise isn't completely dead on arrival.
Wherever The Dark Tower TV series lands, Sony and MRC will probably want to keep the budget tight, especially after the film's performance. That's why tackling Roland's story chronologically makes so much sense. Most of Wizard and Glass, for example, plays out like a Western, with some crazy crystal ball magic and weird spatial abnormalities thrown in. You don't need the Devar-Toi, Dutch Hill, or the Dixie Pig. You just need some gunslinging and a good ol' Western backdrop.
Arcel, who wrote the pilot with Jensen, has promised that the show will follow the books more closely than the movie did.
"We’re going back in the past. It’s very, very closely adhering to the Wizard and Glass novel and parts of The Gunslinger novel," Arcel told Indiewire. "That was exciting to be even more like, 'Okay, now we’re going to be able to even lift lines directly, or like [write] characters exactly as they are.' Which, as a fan, was exciting in a different way."
Keeping things in the Western genre before crossing over to the series' other genres in later seasons is the way to go. There's plenty of material to explore in just Wizard and Glass and The Gunslinger. Plus, the show could also adapt things like "The Little Sisters of Eluria" short story and The Wind Through the Key, both of which take place around the same time in Roland's life. The Marvel comics could also flesh out major events such as the fall of Gilead, Roland's home, and the Battle of Jericho Hill, where all of the remaining gunslingers were wiped out except for Roland (a battle that the movie alluded to in the first act). And that's not even counting any new material the writers could add in between the lines to flesh out supporting characters such as Cuthbert Allgood, Jamie De Curry, and Alain Johns.
All of that material could easily carry several seasons of the show, especially if it took its time with each storyline. Constant Readers know that there's a lot of potential for big battles and at least one Red Wedding-esque event in the TV series. There's no doubt King himself would be asked to write an episode or two for the show, which could even add a bit more horror to the affair. (I'd like to watch a twisted Rhea of the Coos origin story episode written by King, for example.)
You might be asking yourself at this point: if the show were to focus heavily on the Western genre, wouldn't it be weird to then add in New York City, a crazed riddle-loving train, a flu-infested Topeka, and that meta-narrative to the show? Wouldn't it be too crazy a shift? That was the issue Arcel apparently had with adapting The Gunslinger directly. He felt that making the first movie a Western and then making the next a fantasy movie about doors into other worlds was a bit too harsh of a change for a general audience. He preferred combining everything from the start.
But that doesn't really have to be the case with the TV show if it's established from the very start that there's a frame story and that the story of the younger Roland is being told by the older one to Jake. I suspect that Elba's involvement in the show is indeed for this purpose and that a younger Roland will be cast to star. If you establish that the world has moved on since the days of Roland's journey in Gilead and Mejis and that present day Roland is on a quest for the Tower -- which is what the movie basically did -- there shouldn't be a problem when the series starts introducing the weirder stuff in later seasons.
Ultimately, the big question will be whether Elba will stick around long enough to star in those later seasons as the adult Roland. He's a movie star, one who has starred in some pretty big projects in the last few years. It's hard to say if he'd be interested in sticking around for anything less than an HBO show once his contract is up. As a frame of reference, Elba still stars in the British series Luther, which will film its fifth series in 2018, but that show airs sporadically and with much fewer episodes than a TV show in the American market demands. I don't think Elba's schedule will allow for such a high episode count. Miniseries of three episodes a pop would probably be more manageable. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The point is that The Dark Tower always belonged on television and now that the show is indeed on the way -- at least as of this writing, a week after the movie got clobbered from all sides -- we might get the adaptation the books actually deserve. A thoughtful take on the novels that offers up something new to say about the source material without simply rearranging and nodding to the universe. And for those who argue that expansive, sprawling epics might confuse general audiences who haven't read the books, point them in the direction of Game of Thrones, the most watched television show in the world. The Dark Tower movie was too busy dumbing itself down for every audience member to ever truly explore what makes the books so great. The series will hopefully to reconcile that by doing what Roland has had to do so many times: start from the beginning.
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Ahead of Marvel's The Defenders arriving on Netflix, here are some comics you may want to check out...
This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
This August, Marvel will finally deliver the team-up its TV fans have been waiting for when Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist come together to battle The Hand in the Marvel/Netflix co-production The Defenders.
But what if you can’t wait that long? Well, good news: these characters have been teaming up in the comics for years. And whether you want to get a fix ahead of watching the Netflix show or familiarise yourself with who these characters are and what they do, this list of comics should help you…
This street-level crossover event marks the culmination of a long-running storyline in which Daredevil takes control of The Hand after defeating its masters. After initially trying to keep them on the right side of the law, Shadowland sees him using the ninja death squad as his personal army in New York, to the obvious chagrin of his costumed pals. As you can imagine, this behaviour isn’t completely on the level and it soon brings him into conflict with the likes of Spider-Man, Luke Cage & Iron Fist, and even Ghost Rider as they battle to save not just the city, but the soul of their friend.
Of course, in addition to the team-up action, this story famously features The Beast of the Hand, who we’re fairly sure will be a part – at least in some capacity – of The Defenders. So as well as being a good story in its own right, it’ll allow you to get some extra fanboy/fangirl thrills out of the TV show too!
Marvel Knights #1-15
This 15-issue ongoing series featured a 'non-team' comprising Daredevil, Shang-Chi, the Black Widow and Cloak & Dagger as they attempt to track down and capture The Punisher. Throughout its run it guest-starred Doctor Strange, Moon Knight, Luke Cage and more besides.
Not only will it give you a chance to see some great Daredevil/Punisher scenes and a closer look at the comics versions of some MCU characters you might not have encountered before, it’ll ALSO give you a chance to get familiar with Cloak and Dagger ahead of their forthcoming series, which debuts on Freeform next year.
Immortal Iron Fist #7-13
It’s no secret that the Iron Fist Netflix series wasn’t as well received as the others, but don’t let that sour you on the character. This arc from Immortal Iron Fist, titled The Seven Capital Cities Of Heaven, shows Danny Rand exploring the ongoing legacy of the Iron Fist as he’s summoned to K’un L’un to fight in a tournament against a group of Immortal Weapons, each representing their own mystical city. There are a few appearances by the likes of Luke Cage, Colleen Wing, and Misty Knight, but it’s mostly a great Danny solo story that illustrates just how cool the character can be – and given that Iron Fist and K’un L’un are reportedly quite prominent in The Defenders (or at least in the opening episode) it’s worth catching up on who and what they are.
Alias (Vol. 1) #1-9
The first volume of Jessica Jones’ solo title sees her caught up in a conspiracy surrounding Captain America and his former sidekick, Rick Jones. This is the way she was introduced to the Marvel Universe, and you’ll see the likes of Luke Cage and Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel) as well as (of course) Captain America. It’s worth pointing out that like the Netflix shows, this is aimed at adults (perhaps even more so than the Netflix shows) so there are instances of swearing and graphic scenes that would make it unsuitable for younger readers. Luckily, if you’re old enough to watch The Defenders you’re old enough to enjoy superheroes occasionally saying the word fuck, so y’know, have at it.
The trailer for The Defenders has already made it clear that Elektra will be rejoining the land of the living, so why not read how that went down the very first time it happened? Daredevil #190 is titled Resurrection and shows how the Hand attempt to bring Elektra back to life. With flashbacks to Elektra’s past, training with Stick, the story shows DD teaming up with the Black Widow and Stone (also a member of Stick’s ninja order, The Chaste) to prevent her resurrection. The following issue shows Daredevil engaged in a game of Russian Roulette with Bullseye, and we’re throwing that in for good measure because it’s easily one of the best Daredevil comics ever.
Power Man And Iron Fist #50-#54
After headlining his own book for 49 issues, Iron Fist became a co-headliner with issue #50, which was written and drawn by famed X-Men creators Chris Claremont and John Byrne, no less. Four issues later they formally incorporate as the Heroes for Hire, bringing into existence a brand and partnership that continues to this day. If you want to know what’s getting people so excited about Danny and Luke teaming up on screen, this is the place you need to look.
This series deliberately took the line-up of the forthcoming TV show – Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist – and folded them into a story that features other MCU mainstays like The Punisher and Black Cat. The first arc is still ongoing at this point, and that makes it a great time to hop on board and catch up with the story, which sees them facing off against Diamondback, who was the villain in the latter half of Luke Cage’s Netflix series. It’s hard to say just how good it’ll be once it all pans out, but in terms of getting you up to date with the characters as they stand, there’s no better place to look.
Daredevil: Dark Nights #6-8
This three-part story from a Daredevil anthology series features Matt Murdock teaming up with Misty Knight in the unlikely setting of the Caribbean as the pair take down a crime boss together. Written by Jimmy Palmiotti, it’s a small but perfectly-formed team-up between two long-standing Marvel characters who are both big parts of the Netflix MCU. Naturally, you’ll also be able to catch some cameos by Iron Fist’s Colleen Wing who, along with Knight, forms the other half of the Daughters of the Dragon. Misty Knight is one of those characters who seems likely to hop between Netflix series – indeed, she’s announced for the cast of Iron Fist season 2 – so it’s worth checking out her adventures on the page.
Power Man And Iron Fist (2016) #1-5
Collected as The Boys Are Back, this Power Man/Iron Fist team-up puts the characters back where they belong: together. In an attempt to stop the city of New York being poisoned by magic, the heroes team up to punch their way through the underworld and stop the villains behind it. Expect cameos from Jessica Jones (naturally) and plenty of absurdist exploitation-style comedy the likes of which the Netflix shows are a little too serious to adapt. It’s great fun, and if the original team-up comics are too retro for you, this is about as modern as it gets!
The Marvel/Netflix miniseries The Defenders will be available to viewers on 18 August.
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Justice League: The New Frontier, one of the best DC animated movies, is getting the deluxe treatment!
One of the best DC animated movies (ahem, I mean DC Universe Original Movie) is getting a deluxe re-release. Justice League: The New Frontier was an adaptation of the comic by the brilliant and much-missed Darwyn Cooke, and it tells the story of how the Justice League formed in the days following the Korean War. It's a wonderful take on DC superheroes, and its period setting is really fitting. The comic is one of the greatest things DC has published in my lifetime, and if you haven't read it yet, you really should. It should be held in the same kind of esteem as Watchmen or Dark Knight Returns.
The animated adaptation condenses the story a little, but it's still excellent, and features an incredible cast including Jeremy Sisto as Batman, David Boreanz as Hal Jordan, Neil Patrick Harris (yes) as The Flash, Lucy Lawless (yes!) as Wonder Woman and Kyle MacLachlan as Superman. Only the second installment in the series of DC Universe Original Movies, Justice League: The New Frontier was a tremendous improvement over the first, the lackluster Superman: Doomsday. We've written in detail about all of them here, if you're interested.
Justice League: The New Frontier - Commemorative Edition arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Steelbook and DVD October 3rd, with a ton of special features (see below), including a new mini-documentary about Darwyn Cooke.
Check out the special features, too! This release is loaded...
Read and download the full Den of Geek Special Edition magazine here!
All the Easter eggs, references and in-jokes from Legends of Tomorrow Season 2.
Have you been enjoying Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 on Netflix? If not, are you ready for its DVD and Blu-ray release this month? Are you just reliving the wonder of what might just be DC's best superhero show in your head over and over again, like a time loop?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you, dear friends, are in luck, because we have a complete guide to every single DC Comics reference (and more!) in Legends of Tomorrow Season 2!
After the defeat of the immortal villain Vandal Savage and the exposure of the corrupt Time Masters, a new threat emerges. Dr. Nate Heywood (Nick Zano), an unconventional and charming historian, is thrust into the action. After making a shocking discovery, Nate seeks out Oliver Queen (guest star Stephen Amell) for help in finding the scattered Legends. Once reunited, the Legends continue their new mission to protect the timeline from temporal aberrations - unusual changes to history that spawn potentially catastrophic consequences. Their first stop is 1942 to protect Albert Einstein from being kidnapped before the Nazis destroy New York City with a nuclear bomb. Meanwhile, Ray (Brandon Routh) notices that Sara (Caity Lotz) has a mission of her own, which leads them both to face her nemesis, Damien Darhk (guest star Neal McDonough).
OK, so this one doesn't have a ton of specific DC Comics stuff out of the usual, expected stuff (and, of course, the inclusion of Damien Darhk and the surprise appearance of Eobard Thawne at the end), but there are still a few things to get into. The biggest deal, of course, is...
Nate Heywood. In the comics, a super-powered Heywood is known as Commander Steel. But we're not quite there yet with him.
While the Steel legacy in DC Comics stretches back decades, the Nate Heywood version of the character was introduced in 2007, during Geoff Johns' tenure as writer on Justice Society. While his grandfather was cybernetically enhanced, Nate ended up being composed of living metal, with all of the advantages and drawbacks that brings with it. It's not clear how far they're taking that element of the character for the show just yet, but this is a pretty effective introduction for the Heywood aspect of him. His personality is quite a departure from the comics, though.
- I have to love how Green Arrow is kind of roped into this rescue mission. It's just an appropriately comic book trope touch.
- Who else thought of Indiana Jones'"Nazis, I hate these guys," when Heat Wave confessed his own hatred of Nazis?
- When Brandon Routh is wearing that retro blue business suit in the 40s, anybody else get vintage Clark Kent vibes?
- Speaking of Superman, the best "Albert Einstein interacts with superhero lore" story ever isn't even in a comic: it's in the pages of Elliot S! Maggin's Superman: Last Son of Krypton novel. I can't stress this enough, if you like Superman, you need to read that book.
- Also re: Superman. Somebody mentions the phrase "Somewhere in Time" which reminds me that Christopher Reeve starred in a kinda dull sci-fi romance by that title shortly after he achieved stardom as Supes.
- Is Rip wearing a Navy uniform in the '40s? Can anyone explain that to me? I'm terrible with military stuff. If it is indeed Navy, I feel like that kind of plays into Rip's general dorkiness. Why? Because James Bond's rank of Commander is a Naval thing, so of course that's what Rip would wear. If he's wearing anything that indicates he's a Commander, please let me know.
- Anyone spot Katana’s mask on the Waverider?
The Legends travel to Nazi-occupied Paris, but find themselves surrounded by the Justice Society of America (AKA JSA.) The Legends discover a time aberration that threatens the JSA, but the JSA wants nothing to do with them or their help. Nevertheless, the Legends force their way into the JSA’s mission to intercept and seize a mysterious package. Nate (Nick Zano) is desperate to prove that he should be part of the team, but he has a secret that he shares with his grandfather Commander Steel (Matthew MacCaull) that might make it difficult. Ray (Brandon Routh) is so focused on impressing the JSA, he puts himself and Vixen (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) in danger. Meanwhile, Stein (Victor Garber) has stepped in as the leader with Rip (Arthur Darvill) gone, but when decisions aren’t being made Sara (Caity Lotz) seems to be the one calling the shots.
- The Justice Society of America (although surprisingly very few of the members we meet in this episode) first appeared in All-Star Comics #3 in 1940. They are, without question, the most important superhero team in comics history, but their legacy is too complex for me to discuss here. Luckily, we have an entire article about them.
- Commander Steel, amazingly enough, was NOT a product of 1940s comics, though, despite his patriotic name and costume. His legacy is even more freakin' complicated if you can believe that, so allow me to present another article (this one not written by me) that should make everything clear to you about both Commander Steel and Nate Heywood.
- Obsidian first appeared in All-Star Squadron (one of my favorite comics) #25 in 1983, and was a member of JSA offshoot Infinity Inc. He was never a founding member of the JSA or anything, but what he is, is the son of Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern.
- Rex Tyler's costume looks a little bit more like the younger, Rick Tyler version of the character than his Golden Age counterpart, but I ain't complaining:
- Stargirl is another second or third generation JSA character who they moved to the past here for convenience sake, but that's fine. That cosmic staff she's wielding was designed (at least in the comics) by founding JSA-er Ted "Starman" Knight, father of one of my all time favorite DC characters, Jack Knight...who would totally be perfect for a CW show of his own, but if you ask nicely I'll write you a thousand words or so about why that's the case.
She's a great character, and you can see her kicking ass in more modern/recent JSA adventures.
- They never make it clear if this Doctor Mid-Nite is Charles McNider or Pieter Cross. It doesn't matter. He looks really cool. It's like if Republic Pictures made a Doctor Mid-Nite serial in 1942, he kinda would have looked like this. I'm so happy I just got to type that sentence. Dr. Mid-Nite dates back to 1941, so this is some serious DC history on display.
- So, the "original" Vixen on display here isn't "original" at all, but created especially for this series. She is indeed Mari McCabe's grandmother, though. What's cool about this is that the comic book JSA has always been about legacy, and heroes from this era passing their mantle on to the current generation. Right now, Vixen is set to be the first "legacy" character (other than the Canarys on Arrow, they kind of don't count) in the CW DC Universe, which is pretty cool, right?
- Baron Krieger is the given name for Captain Nazi, an old Shazam/Captain Marvel villain. He was first introduced in 1941. He's the one who crippled Captain Marvel, Jr.'s non-powered form, Freddy Freeman, and he's a member of Mr. Mind's Monster Society of Evil. His powers were given to him in the comics by his father, who genetically modified him at an early age. He is, as one would expect from a super-powered Nazi, a very bad fella.
- I have no idea what the Askaran Amulet is supposed to be, BUT...it looks a little bit like the amulet that DC heroine Isis wears. Kinda. I'm not sure.
But Hitler's fascination with the occult was very much a real thing, and that helps with the whole Indiana Jones vibe of this episode, doesn't it? His ultimate prize, by the way, would be the Spear of Destiny, which would help him not to ever have to worry about superheroes interfering with his affairs ever again. Ever wonder why a world populated by DC superheroes didn't just win World War II in like, a week? Yeah, the Spear of Destiny.
- On the Waverider, there was a prominently displayed Red Tornado helmet.
No, not the robot one. Ma Hunkel, the pot-helmeted lady who ran with the JSA for a bit in the '40s.
- Max Lorenz was absolutely a real person, and I suppose maybe if you squint in the dark and have bad eyes there is a passing resemblance to Martin Stein?
By the way, Victor Garber wore a Superman shirt (but it was the logo of the Sunshine Superman of Earth-47's Love Syndicate) when he was Jesus Christ in Godspell in 1973...
And his little speech to the band right before he started singing (I don't have to tell you this, I'm sure) was Marty McFly's prep line to the band in Back to the Future before they ripped into "Johnny B. Goode."
- "You're not a wartime consigliere" is the nicest way to demote somebody, and probably the nicest thing Michael Corleone ever said to anybody in The Godfather.
- I know the motorcycle sidecar chase is right out of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, but you know what was even more in the spirit of things? Ray's inability to bring himself to "Seig Heil!" before saying "ah, hell" and punching that Nazi douchebag right in the kisser.
Nate (Nick Zano) is shocked to learn that he has powers but then accidentally lands himself and Ray (Brandon Routh) in Feudal Japan. After Sara (Caity Lotz) convinces their stowaway Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers), AKA Vixen, that Rory (Dominic Purcell) is not a murderer, they all agree to find Nate and help him master his powers in order to defend the Japanese village from the Shogun and his army of samurai warriors. Meanwhile, Jax (Franz Drameh) and Stein (Victor Garber) stay back to help fix the ship and find a secret compartment but decide not to tell the rest of the team what they learn.
- Amaya tries to stab Mick with a Santoku when she should really be using a Chef's knife for stabbing. The Santoku is good for slicing or chopping, not for plunging into the heart of your enemy.
- We're there now! Nate turns to metal for the first time this week, after being injected with a modified version of the Nazi super power serum that gave Captain Nazi his powers. He jokingly asks if his name should be "Citizen Steel," which, ha ha was actually his name in the comics.
- Oh yeah, Masako. She's the first Katana, and this episode is the origin of the Soultaker blade. The sword Ray, Nate and Misako use to kill the Shogun has an extensive family history, and continues to after this episode.
When the Legends discover a time Aberration in 1863, they find themselves fighting for survival during the Civil War with Confederate soldiers who have been turned into zombies. With the Civil War outcome hanging in the balance, Jax (Franz Drameh) must participate in a daring mission by going to a slave plantation with Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers). Meanwhile, Sara (Caity Lotz) begins to feel the burden of the decisions she has to make as the leader, and Ray (Brandon Routh) struggles to find his purpose on the team. Victor Garber, Dominic Purcell and Nick Zano also star.
- Henry Scott was real. Interesting that Jax ended up as his historical stand-in.
- The song the slaves were singing is an old African spiritual called "Follow the Drinking Gourd."
When the Legends trace a timequake to President Reagan’s White House, they are shocked to discover their old enemy Damien Darhk (guest star Neal McDonough) is now a Senior Adviser to Reagan. As the team works to uncover what Darhk has up his devious sleeve, Sara (Caity Lotz) struggles with the choice of getting revenge or helping with the team’s larger mission. Thinking that the JSA members could be of help, Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) and Nate (Nick Zano) break into the JSA and are surprised at what they find. Meanwhile, Stein (Victor Garber) tries to prevent his younger self from creating an even bigger time Abberation.
- The vintage JSA team picture kind of reminds me of the photo of the Minutemen from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons'Watchmen. Is this a coincidence? Yes, probably. Do I care? Not at all, it's a nice touch.
- The idea that the JSA was always a top secret government sanctioned organization is an interesting one, and it puts it a little bit more in line with JSA spinoff title the All-Star Squadron, who were specifically formed to fight in World War II (the comic book JSA was originally pre-War, and primarily concerned with domestic issues).
- The fact that they disappeared in 1956 is significant, as well. It's generally accepted in the comics that the JSA disappeared in the early days of the Cold War (sometimes it's earlier, sometimes it's because of McCarthyism, there are conflicting versions), but they're right in the ballpark here. But they aren't necessarily dead, and I wouldn't be remotely surprised to find them in the 21st Century sooner or later, or even more of them joining/replacing members of the Legends.
- I looooove that there was a JSA Academy. The modern day JSA in the comics became a kind of training ground for newer and legacy heroes, so it seems like there were even more JSA members that we don't know about from back in the day, both before we met them in WWII, and potentially in all of those years leading up to their disappearance in 1956.
- The reason Obsidian couldn't be trusted could be an allusion to the character's homosexuality.
Now, as for some other stuff...
- How perfect was the 1987 vintage Channel 52 news broadcast?!?
- Do...ummmm...I don't really need to tell you what the "never cross the streams" rule comes from, do I? Please tell me I don't.
- When Mick tells Ray that he's "just gotta be cool" I half expected him to say "like Fonzie!" and then that made me want to watch Pulp Fiction.
- "Surely by now women are equals," Vixen says. Ummmmm...well...
- Even though we've seen them on these shows several times now, I will never not freak out when I see a Legion of Super-Heroes Time Bubble make an appearance, as it did this week.
The Legends are still reeling from the news that their time travel-nemesis is a speedster when they are alerted to an Aberration in the Old West. When the Legends arrive they find their old friend Jonah Hex (guest star Jonathan Schaech) in trouble with his arch-nemesis, Quentin Turnbull (guest star Jeff Fahey). The team soon discovers that they need to stop Turnbull and his gang from conquering the West and branding it his own lawless territory. To Hex’s surprise, Sara (Caity Lotz) is in charge and dispatches the team. Rory (Dominic Purcell) is ecstatic to be in the Wild West, but Sara makes Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) work with him to keep him on task, which is easier said than done. Meanwhile, Nate (Nick Zano), Ray (Brandon Routh) and Jax (Franz Drameh) try to infiltrate Turnball’s gang, but find themselves in a shootout leaving Nate’s confidence shaken.
- Quentin Turnbull is actually a Jonah Hex villain. Created by Michael Fleisher and Tony DeZuniga in 1974, Turnbull in the comics was a Virginia plantation owner looking for revenge on Hex for the death of his Confederate soldier son. It sounds like, from what Hex was yelling during the punching scene, they borrowed more from the Turnbull played somehow by John Malkovich in the inexplicably terrible movie, who was a former Confederate general who committed atrocities that Hex didn’t care for.
- Nate gets his new costume at the end of this episode, after Ray sees his drawings at the beginning. You’ll likely recognize Nate’s drawing as very similar to Alex Ross’s cover to JSA #7 from 2007.
- The most popular pop culture instance of a man with super strength punching a horse is probably Mongo from Blazing Saddles, and you cannot imagine my disappointment when Steel did NOT punch a horse despite multiple opportunities. Not cool, Legends of Tomorrow.
- Nate stops a train with his bare hands, and that’s a move as old as comics. Superman, Colossus, even Gambit (I think) have done it. They keep doing it because it’s pretty cool.
After learning the Dominators’ plan for the world, the Legends must work together with The Flash (guest star Grant Gustin), Supergirl (guest star Melissa Benoist) and Green Arrow (guest star Stephen Amell) to kill them once and for all. Meanwhile, Stein (Victor Garber) figures out, with the help of others, how the team can terminate the Dominators, but is distracted by the aberration he realizes he created in 1987.
- This is Felicity’s first time travelling through time, so her “linguistic disorientation” shows up in her shouting “darmokandjaladatTanagra,” and me yelling SHAKA WHEN THE WALLS FELL back at the TV. She is quoting “Darmok,” the second episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s fifth season.
- So I think we need to talk about this G-Man played by Doc Cottle from Battlestar Galactica. Kara calls him “Agent Smith,” and that is complete and utter horseshit because he is quite clearly King Faraday. Faraday was created by Bob Kanigher and Carmine Infantino in 1950. He floated around the DCU as a generic spy for a while, though he was notably involved in John Ostrander and Kim Yale’s Suicide Squad for a bit in the late ‘80s. He resurfaced in a big way in Darwyn Cooke’s utterly incredible The New Frontier, where he is basically this exact character: he doesn’t trust metas, really gives the Flash a hard time, and eventually comes around on aliens because of his relationship with the Martian Manhunter.
- They have a little party in the Hall of Justice to celebrate their win, and as Kara’s leaving, Ray says to Felicity “You know what’s funny? She kinda looks like my cousin.” I love Brandon Routh’s superhero second act.
- Kara to Ollie and Barry before she leaves: “You’re Earth’s mightiest heroes.” KARA SHH! D’YOU WANT TO GET SUED?
- The song playing when Ollie and Barry go drinking is “The World (Is Going Up In Flames)” by Charles Bradley, who is excellent. You may also recognize him from the third episode of Luke Cage– his band was playing in Cottonmouth’s club while Luke was busting up Cottonmouth’s organization.
- Kara has a communicator that will let her chat with Barry and Ollie, or come back through if she wants. Smart money is on her only needing it one more time, though. If I were a gambling man, I’d bet that next year’s crossover is some sort of…Crisis.
When a new Time Aberration is discovered by the Legends, they find themselves headed to 1927 Chicago. The Legends quickly realize that they have been set up by Eobard Thawne (guest star Matt Letscher), Damien Darhk (guest star Neal McDonough) and the newest member of the Legion of Doom, Malcolm Merlyn (guest start John Barrowman). While everyone is trying to help fix what they think is the mission, Jax (Franz Drameh) encourages a reluctant Stein (Victor Garber) to share his secret with the other Legends. Stein is taken captive and Sara (Caity Lotz) must make the tough choice of either stopping the Legion of Doom or saving Stein. Meanwhile, Rory (Dominic Purcell) gets an unexpected visitor and is not sure how to handle it.
- I understand the budgetary restrictions on the show, but it is a little irksome to constantly reference Costner and Connery’s Untouchables from a set in Vancouver. They didn’t once have a baby carriage go down a giant flight of stairs in slow motion, and there was only a pair of oblique references to the Chicago way.
- Sara to the team upon finding out that they’re in 1927: “Grab your fedoras.” You got it m’lady!
- The Injustice Gang first showed up in Justice League of America #111 in 1974. They were originally a group of villains gathered by Libra to test a power stealing device. Later, in Grant Morrison’s 1990s JLA run, they were a dark reflection of the Big 7 Justice League: Joker (Batman’s arch-nemesis), Lex Luthor (Superman’s), Jemm (Martian Manhunter’s), Mirror Master (Flash’s), Ocean Master (Aquaman’s), Doctor Light (Green Lantern’s), and Circe (Wonder Woman’s). That’s why they feel like the better analogue than…
- The Injustice Society was originally created in 1947 by Sheldon Mayer and Bob Kanigher. They were the main nemesis group of the Justice Society. Over the years, folks like Per Degaton, Vandal Savage, Sportsmaster, Solomon Grundy, Shade, Count Vertigo, Gentleman Ghost, and Rag Doll have been counted as members.
- Jax: “Stein’s about to kill Sara in the library.”
Ray: “With a rope or a candlestick.” You nerd. But seriously, Clue was a good movie.
- The Spear of Longinus is real. Or real-ish – it’s definitely a historical artifact, but it’s not immediately clear if it can be used to “rewrite the rules of reality” or thrown from the moon to impale a rogue Angel threatening to destroy one of our only Eva unites like was claimed by Thawne here and Gainax in 1996, respectively.
In the comics, it was "the Spear of Destiny" and this is what DC Comics used to explain why the Justice Society didn't just go ahead and win World War II in like, five minutes. Hitler had the Spear, and with it in his possession, it meant that any hero who came near Berlin ran the risk of falling under the spear's power, and thus Hitler's.
When Damien Darhk (guest star Neal McDonough) and Malcolm Merlyn (guest star John Barrowman) try to capture Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) in 1967, they create an Aberration big enough to draw the attention of the Legends. However, when the team arrives they discover that Rip has no memories of his past due to “time drift” and is just a graduate film student. After trying to convince Rip of who he was, they discover that he possesses an incredibly powerful artifact known as the Spear of Destiny, which the Legion of Doom is after. Ray (Bradon Routh) and Nate (Nick Zano) realize that the Aberration has also affected them personally making it difficult to help the team. Meanwhile, Rory (Dominic Purcell) asks Stein (Victor Garber) for help and makes him promise to keep it a secret from the team.
- Anybody else think that the existence of the Spear of Destiny, which can rewrite all of reality without causing timequakes, on Rip’s ship is going to necessitate a massive retcon later? Why would you go through all of season 1 if you could just fix shit, right?
- In the opening, when Rip is abandoning the Waverider, Gideon’s shutdown code is “shogun ballistic,” I think. And when Rip is grabbing the time core from the engine, the prayer he whispers - “Angels and ministers of grace defend us” – is what Hamlet yells when he sees his father’s ghost in Act 1, Scene 4.
- Things that exist in the Legends of Tomorrow universe: Super Friends. That’s what Nate’s talking about when confronted about coming up with the name “the Legion of Doom.” He said it’s from an old Hanna Barbera cartoon he used to watch when he was a kid. So…he used to watch a cartoon of Batman and Superman and Flash but they’ve never seen a...you know what? I don’t think I’m going to put too much energy into this line of thought, as it could only ruin the show for me.
- Also, Disney’s Star Wars. It makes sense to include it, but it’s still a little surprising to hear reference to a series that Marvel is currently adapting and adding to.
- Speaking of Marvel things that shouldn’t exist in this world (or any, really), Howard the Duck the movie. Amaya asks to watch it during the team’s movie night, and gets promptly and rightly shut down by Ray and Nate.
- And finally, the best thing that exists in both worlds, M.O.P. They’re a rap duo from Brooklyn, the ones who brought us that song that Nate was listening to in the Waverider at the start of the episode. And the song I walked into my wedding reception to! Not really, but it was on the first list.
- I don’t need to explain why George Lucas and a group of superheroes getting stuck in a trash compacter is funny, right? We’re all adults here.
The Legends are determined to find and rescue Rip (Arthur Darvill), but first must focus on locating the Spear of Destiny. Stein (Victor Garber) thinks he has the perfect person to help but knows involving her will be risky. Meanwhile, Malcom Merlyn (guest star John Barrowman) and Damien Darhk (guest star Neal McDonough) realize that Thawne (guest star Matt Letscher) is pitting them against each other.
- The intro was new and kind of unprecedented, so it’s worth going through all the notable points at once. Darhk narrates and explains that he was killed by Green Arrow in 2016 – that happened at the end of last season in Arrow.
- We then see him sitting in a Time Bubble with Thawne running really fast around him – that hasn’t happened on the show, but Darhk’s narration says it was 31 years ago, so 1986.
That’s kind of a turning point year for the comics industry as a whole. That’s the year Crisis on Infinite Earths ended, merging the entire DC multiverse into one Earth with one shared history that remained a continuity clusterfuck for 30 years. It’s also the year we got Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, Maus, and Daredevil: Born Again.
- Have we been over Time Bubbles? The Time Sphere is how Rip travels through time in the comics. It’s looped into all sorts of different DC mythologies, from the Legion of Super Heroes to Booster Gold to various incarnations of Superman on TV. It even saved Batman from THE DEATH THAT IS LIFE! in Grant Morrison’s run. I’m kidding, Batman was saved from that by Friendship.
- Later in the episode, Merlyn tells Darhk “The League didn’t call me The Magician for nothing.” I think that’s the first time his supervillain name from the comics was uttered on TV, right? He’s typically Green Arrow’s arch-nemesis in the comics, and he was Merlyn the Magician until early in the modern era, when it was mostly shortened to just Merlyn.
- MISSED OPPORTUNITY: It turns out Rip stored his memories in a safety deposit box in a Swiss bank in 2025. I would have put a $10 bill in the mail to the writers’ room if they had snuck a Per Degaton reference in there.
- Rip’s Swiss safety deposit box is number 4587. There’s something there, but I can’t figure out what it is. Help me out in the comments!
- The champagne is a 1998 Guggenheim, named presumably for Marc Guggenheim, writer and producer extraordinaire within the Berlantiverse, and writer of the upcoming X-Men: Gold series at Marvel.
- Black Flash is like the Speed Force’s Grim Reaper. He takes any dying speedster back into the Speed Force. It was introduced in Morrison, Millar, and Ron Wagner’s Flash #138 in 1998. He’s also part of the Black Racer, the avatar of death for the New Gods, but we’ll get into that when the Berlantiverse gets to the Fourth World. So probably next season.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 Episode 11
When The Legends find a new Time Aberration they learn they must travel to the winter of 1776 to protect George Washington and the American Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned, forcing Sara (Caity Lotz) to send out Nate (Nick Zano) and Amaya (Maisie-Richardson-Sellers) to help. Meanwhile, Jax (Franz Drameh) and Stein (Victor Garber) who are busy protecting the incapacitated Waverider from their new enemy, are forced to step into roles that they don’t think they are prepared for.
- This is more or less a straight Harry Turtledove riff. Turtledove specialized in stories about time travel bringing modern weapons to an old conflict, and that's what we get here, with the Redcoats getting a few crates of M16s.
- "Dammit Jefferson, I'm a physicist, not a doctor." But you ARE a Star Trek fan, right Stein?
- You know what OTHER movie involved a bunch of makeshift traps on Christmas? That's right, this episode is a Home Alone tribute.
- Love Ray whistling the show's theme song.
- Mick's speech to Washington - "When they march at you in formation, you pick them off from the trees. When they challenge you to a duel, you raid their camp the night before," - is magnificent. One of the high points of the season.
The Legends continue their quest to hunt down the Spear of Destiny before the pieces fall into the hands of the Legion of Doom. The Legends discover that pieces of the Spear are each being guarded in different time periods by members of the JSA. Their first stop is the future where they find Dr. Mid-Nite (guest star Kwesi Ameyaw) which eventually leads them to the past and King Arthur’s Camelot, where Stargirl (guest star Sarah Grey) is protecting her piece of the Spear. In order to protect the Spear shard from the now-evil Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill), the Legends must join forces with the Knights of the Round Table.
- Dr. Mid-Nite is in Detroit in the year 3000 and that is the closest we come to a Legion of Super-Heroes in this show.
- By the way, we get confirmation that this Dr. Mid-Nite is Charles McNider.
- Stargirl/Merlin must have some powerful magic to be able to crimp her hair like that in 507 A.D.
- This episode was good on its merits, but it feels like a missed opportunity for nerdery, something this show rarely does. There's a whole expansive Arthurian world within the DC Universe - Etrigan the Demon, Shining Knight, Mordred, a whole host of people who stick around for a while get their starts here.
After capturing Rip (Arthur Darvill), he forces the Waverider to crash, leaving the Legends stuck seventy million years in the past. Ray (Brandon Routh) leads Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) and Nate (Nick Zano) to recover a vital piece of the ship. In an effort to get the “good” Rip back, Rory (Dominic Purcell) suggests they enter Rip’s mind, but what Sara (Caity Lotz) and Jax (Franz Drameh) discover in his subconscious is not pleasant and they must fight evil versions of themselves. Meanwhile, Nate and Amaya continue to get closer, but it could cause serious ramifications.
- Not a coincidence that we get a montage of a bunch of spaceship doors closing quickly in an episode named “Land of the Lost.” Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a show where a comedian and two robots were forced to watch terrible movies in space.
- They went into the same forest that Gorilla City is in! There sure are a lot of lizards out in the middle of Vancouver’s winter.
- SUPER Marvel-heavy episode this week: “Gertrude” the dinosaur is, I think, a riff on Arsenic and Old Lace, the teen girl and her pet velociraptor from Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s Runaways.
- Subtle: the Waverider in Rip’s head is lit with green and purple, the classic supervillain colors.
- Ray tries to shut down Amaya and Nate by referencing things that the internet tells me happened in the Vixen animated series. Please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong and if Ray and Mari had a relationship on Arrow, but I...don’t really remember them interacting.
When the Legends track Commander Steel (guest star Matthew MacCaull) to NASA Headquarters in 1970, they learn where Nate’s (Nick Zano) grandfather hid the last fragment of the Spear of Destiny. The team notices a time aberration during the Apollo 13 mission and believes that the Legion of Doom might be involved. As the Legends journey into space to intercept Apollo 13, the Waverider suffers massive internal damage and Ray’s (Brandon Routh) life is left in jeopardy when he is stranded on the moon.
- The rule with the old Teen Titans cartoon was when the theme song was in Japanese, the episode was going to be comedy. I think that’s the same thing on Legends: when Mick does the introduction, something amazing is going to happen.
- That amazing thing would be the Victor Garber (with backing vocals from Dominick Purcell) singing “Day-O” to distract mission control from the fact that they were about to be unable to contact Apollo 13. Normally replaying that clip over the end credits would have felt a little self-indulgent, but...this was incredible. You really need to see it.
- I feel like I’ve been making Evangelion jokes about the Spear of Destiny since the first time it showed up on this show, and now I’m sure one of the writers has been biding their time with me waiting to drop an Eva reference in here. They finally did! The Evangelion Spear ends up on the moon after a battle with an orbiting Angel, and gets called back by Shinji in the last couple of episodes.
- Rocket man! Jax uses lyrics to William Shatner (and Elton John)’s classic song to introduce himself.
- Ray lifts the entire bit sandwiching the midpoint break from The Martian, Matt Damon’s movie about getting stranded on Mars that was an absolute delight. Otherwise this is mostly Ron Howard and Tom Hanks’ Apollo 13.
- Stein: “I won 6 Carlin awards.” Mike Carlin is a former executive editor of DC, and he ran the Superman books for a long while.
The Legends must devise a plan to retrieve the last remaining fragments of the Spear of Destiny from the Legion of Doom. They find themselves in France at the height of World War I faced with the knowledge that they must destroy the mystical object. They enlist the help of a soldier by the name of John Ronald Reuel Tolkin (guest star Jack Turner) and find that the Spear is leading them into the heart of the war. Meanwhile, the team must all resist the temptation of the Spear, and the return of a former teammate.
- Aside from the ridiculous amount of Lord of the Rings references, this was a fairly light episode for nerdery.
- I’m going to miss a few, so jump into the comments with more, but let’s take a swing at all the LOTR bits:
The spear has an inscription that only shows up when heated (like the Ring).
The spear glows when it’s near something (like Sting).
Stein saying “One cannot simply walk into the middle of a war zone” is basically begging the internet to meme it.
Rip’s speech to try and get a cease fire has him lift lines whole cloth from Aaragorn’s speech at the black gate in the movie version of Return of the King.
After obtaining the Spear of Destiny, the Legion of Doom rewrites reality, leaving the Legends changed, perhaps forever. Frightfully, the Legends’ and the world’s hopes rest with Rory (Dominic Purcell), but being the “hero” is not easy for him. Meanwhile, there is tension within the Legion of Doom and the reason why the Spear of Destiny needs to be destroyed is revealed. Victor Garber, Brandon Routh, Arthur Darvill, Caity Lotz, Franz Drameh, Nick Zano and Maisie Richardson-Sellers also star.
- Thawne’s keeping Black Flash in one of the holding cells in the particle accelerator. Interesting that apparently the Speed Force is unaffected by the Spear of Destiny.
- Thawne is on the phone with “The President” when he first meets up with Mick and Snart, and he talks about golfing and tells him “Say hi to Mel for me.” So, to be clear, the Legion of Doom rewrote reality to make things easy for them, and they decided to make Donald Trump president of that dark timeline. I love this show so much.
- Ray is playing a Doom-style FPS where he shoots Dominators on their ship. I hope that someday I love my job as much as these writers do.
- Thawne’s monologuing this episode is the first time I really felt “oh that’s the smarmy fuck who put Toby Ziegler in jail.”
- Mick’s mouse is named Axel - is that for Trickster?
- I would like to point out that the climax of this episode is where the good guys get back together to fight one bad guy while the rest of the bad guys double cross him. Again: perfect show.
- The particle accelerator in Central City is basically the Legion of Doom’s headquarters from the old Superfriends cartoon (and they used it for like 10 minutes in Justice League Unlimited).
As the Legends are about to take off for their next destination, a massive timequake rocks the ship. In order to try and fix what has happened, they are forced to break the one cardinal rule of time travel. But if they are able to destroy the spear, they will face the ultimate consequence. Victor Garber, Brandon Routh, Arthur Darvill, Caity Lotz, Dominic Purcell, Franz Drameh, Nick Zano and Maisie Richardson-Sellers.
Let’s talk fan service: if there was any chance that the writers had to insert something fanboyish into the show, not only did they take it, but they rolled around in it for a little while. If the fans started calling something by a name, the writers would co-opt it and put it in the show. If there was a nerdy reference that they could include, not only would they include it, but they’d have someone on the show lampshade it. They were calling their dark future Doomworld, for Highfather’s sake. They named their dark future after the Legion of Doom, the name they gave their arch nemesisesesses. That’s RIDICULOUS.
Not for nothing, but if Doomworld Sarah disappeared after Thawne got shaken to death by Black Flash, wouldn’t Doomworld Waverider have disappeared too? Fuck you, time travel.
This episode was a bloodbath. Doomworld Ray got his heart ripped out by Thawne (props to Doomworld Nate for not shouting KALI MA). Doomworld Nate got stabbed in the chest by Darhk. Doomworld Jax got an arrow in his chest from Merlyn. And Doomworld Mick got an icicle through his chest by Snart. Brutal.
- ”What’s a Goonie?” Goonies never say die, that’s what a Goonie is AMAYA.
Seriously if you need me to explain the Goonies reference how did you find your way to this website?
Read and download the full Den of Geek Special Edition magazine here!
Black Cat/Silver Sable Spider-Man spinoff movie Silver & Black will be directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood.
As with the surprising revelation that a Venom spinoff was back on at Sony Pictures, the studio is still making the best of their Spider-Man license. A Black Cat and Silver Sable movie – titled Silver & Black– spun-off from the web-head franchise is also in development.
Gina Prince-Bythewood steps into the director’s chair for Silver & Black. She will work off a script by Christopher Yost. Prince-Bythewood has been behind the camera for dramatic films such as 2014’s Beyond the Lights, 2008’s The Secret Life of Bees and 2000’s Love & Basketball, along with television work on series such as the current Fox crime drama Shots Fired along with sitcoms Girlfriends and The Bernie Mac Show.
Relevant to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (extended and otherwise), Prince-Bythewood has written the pilot for Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger television series, which is set to debut sometime in 2018.
Silver & Black Release Date
Sony will let this one loose in theaters on Febuary 8, 2019.
This project has apparently been long in the works, predating the deal that ended The Amazing Spider-Man franchise and led to Tom Holland getting to wear the tights in this summer’s forthcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming. Apparently the title previously known simply as “secret female spinoff project,” the movie is intended to flesh out the Black Cat and Silver Sable characters from the Spidey pantheon. Originally Felicity Jones played Black Cat’s alter-ego, Felicia Hardy, in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, however it’d be likely recast here.
The film is being produced by frequent Spider-Man stalwarts Amy Pascal and Matt Tolmach, although intriguingly Avi Arad is not listed as attached. Further, it is ambiguous whether it is related at all to Spider-Man: Homecoming and the greater MCU. According to THR, the project is not an “offshoot” of Spider-Man: Homecoming, but based on the larger “Spider-Man universe” that Sony has the rights to. However, just because it isn’t directly linked to Homecoming does not necessarily mean it is not in the same “Spider-Man universe.”
Yost is an interesting choice to pen the film as well, as in addition to working on the screenplays for Marvel Studios’ Thor: The Dark World and The Incredible Hulk, he has had a history with Marvel’s mythos when he acted as showrunner for X-Men: Evolution wherein he created the character of X-23/Laura Kinney… the breakout star of this month’s Logan, as played by Dafne Keen.
Silver & Black Story
Black Cat was created by Marv Wolfman and Keith Pollard in The Amazing Spider-Man #194 (1979). She is the daughter of a famous (and famously incarcerated) cat burglar whom she inherits a knack for acrobatics and flexible morals. She breaks him out of prison while he’s on his deathbed, and also reveals herself to be something of a Spider-Man fangirl, seducing the wallcrawler when he tries to take her old man back to prison.
Possibly influenced by the Catwoman character at DC—although Marvel continues to strongly deny this—Felicia Hardy developed a unique role in Spidey mythos by becoming Spider-Man’s partner, sidekick, lover, and confidant, knowing his identity and still working with him as his closest costumed associate after he married Mary Jane Watson (awkward).
Silver Sable is also known for her somewhat amorous lifestyle as a mercenary and bounty hunter. She was created in 1985’s The Amazing Spider-Man #265 by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz. Sometimes an ally to Spider-Man and other times an adversary due to her violent, merciless tactics, Silver Sable distinguishes herself in comic book stories filled with soldiers of fortune due to the fact that she is the CEO of the successful Silver Sable International corporation, a “security” firm that is the financial backbone of Marvel’s fictional country, Symkaria.
Read and download the full Den of Geek Special Edition magazine here!
Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa talks about how weird and otherworldly the series might get.
The past few years have seen a darkness come to the pages of Archie Comics, thanks to the inspired horror writing of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. First came Afterlife with Archie, a collaboration with artist Francesco Francavilla that turned the industry on its head by mashing up the classic Archie characters with zombie terror. Comparisons to Afterlife and The Walking Dead came quick, but in reality the book owed more to Romero and Lovecraft than Robert Kirkman.
After the title's immediately success, the Archie Horror imprint was born, and a follow-up title, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, was soon commissioned. Again featuring scripts from Aguirre-Sacasa and featuring suitably creepy and autumnal art from rising comics star Robert Hack, this ongoing series took a more psychological terror approach -- which isn't to say that there wasn't heaps of gore to be found.
Soon, the writer who was once issued a cease-and-desist from Archie due to an amateur production that utilized the characters, found himself as the company's Chief Creative Officer. Then came Riverdale. His ongoing showrunning duties for the series means that fans of Afterlife and Sabrina have found themselves enduring long waits between the issues (from a fan's POV though let me tell you, much rather this than the titles get cancelled or replace Aguirre-Sacasa as writer). Meanwhile, Archie has recently announced a new title, Jughead: The Hunger under their new horror imprint, Archie's Madhouse.
All of this context isn't even getting into the freaky fun of the short-lived Chilling Adventures in Sorcery in the '70s, or how Archie books of the era regularly featured otherworldly weirdness. The point here is, that Riverdale has been a weird place for awhile. So it only makes sense that this strangeness would eventually rear its creepy head on Riverdaletoo.
In the past, Aguirre-Sacasa has hinted that elements of Afterlife with Archie may turn up on Riverdale. That, coupled with the fact that Sabrina the Teenage Witch's arrival was hinted at throughout the show's first season means that plans to get a bit supernatural on the series are underway.
Or are they?
Our Chris Longo spoke with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa today at San Diego Comic Con to find out. Here's what Archie's horror master had to say:
I love horror stuff, and I'm always trying to get horror imagery and beans in that. We've talked a lot about it. We've started a pretty aggressive suspenseful noir storyline that has definite horror elements. It's not specific to Afterlife but it very much is a suspense kind of thing. so there are different kinds of horror, I think there's also some psychological horror in this season. But no elements of Afterlife so far. But we're only on episode 5.
That's a decidedly non-committal answer to be sure. But our money is on the fact that you'll eventually see Riverdalegetting supernatural. When exactly? Well, that's the question isn't it. Try to figure it out...if you dare. Bwahahahaha.
Read and download the full Den of Geek SDCC Special Edition magazine here!
We've got your first look at the end of the Broken Man's story
You know who's a gem? This whole team, who got jobbed at the Eisners. But also! Brent Anderson. The guy has been an A-list comic artist for very nearly my entire life (I was 2 when God Loves, Man Kills came out). And over those years, he's just churned out excellent comic book art. I came to Astro City late, but when I opened the first book, I felt immediately relaxed reading it because of how familiar and technically excellent Anderson's pencils are. This guy's a pro, and seeing him drawing Jack in the Box again makes me really happy.
DC sent over an exclusive first glimpse at the upcoming issue of Astro City. Here's what they have to say about the issue:
ASTRO CITY #46 Written by KURT BUSIEKArt by BRENT ANDERSONCover by ALEX ROSSThe final chapter in the Broken Man’s century-spanning revelations about Astro City, music, rebellion, heroes and the threat of the Oubor. The Broken Man is mounting a defense—but does it stand a chance, or is it as cracked as he is? Featuring Honor Guard, the First Family and more, in a story that sets the stage for everything that is to come for Astro City.
Check it out...
Examining the power of pop culture as religion, the light side and the dark.
Illustration by Emily Gloria Miller.
A Church Divided
Strip away what Star Wars did for science fiction, blockbuster cinema, and special effects, and what’s left is the franchise’s most important legacy: its community of fans.
The secret to why so many people from different walks of life connect with Star Wars is simple. Its very foundation is built on archetypes that go back thousands of years. The story of A New Hope is about David beating Goliath. We all want to see David in ourselves—the little guy who defeats the giant and becomes a hero. But that doesn’t mean we all rally around the same things.
Since the resurgence of Star Wars-mania in the years after Disney purchased the franchise, there has been a tug of war on almost every major change, from the role of women in the saga to whether a black actor should get a starring role in a film. Even the inclusion of LGBTQ characters in the latest books has come as a shock to some. The fandom has become a bit like the saga it worships: two opposing forces with their own visions of what the galaxy far, far away should look like.
While real-life politics, race relations, and the fight for gender equality intensify, Star Wars remains a progressive beacon of hope in its storytelling and representation of its vastly diverse church of fans. The religion is welcoming, accepting, helpful to those who need it, but as with all faiths, there are the extremists with the misguided notion that they own Star Wars, or that their interpretation of the story is the sole correct one. It’s a church divided.
The Light Side
Within the halls of Celebration Orlando, the biggest gathering of Star Wars fans in the galaxy, you wouldn’t know there’s a division. Fans are in Orlando simply because they love Star Wars, whatever it may mean to them. Like Sunday mass, the crowd gathers in the lobby of the convention center as they wait for the church doors to open. Spending time with these fans makes you feel like there’s nothing wrong with the fandom at all. In fact, things might be better than they ever were.
To the attendees, Star Wars is a lifelong passion, not a fleeting one. Forget the millions of children who fall in love with the saga every time Disney releases a new movie. It's really the adults who have kept this franchise going for four decades and provide the most insight into this enormous fandom—perhaps the biggest in the galaxy, rivaled only by Trekkers and the would-be wizards dreaming of Hogwarts.
The main doors of the convention center open up to somewhere far away. It’s like walking through the crowded streets of Mos Eisley for the first time: men dressed in big, furry Wookie suits; others scowling as the Sith; and, in several cases, men in gender role-subverting Slave Leia metal bikinis. Women are dressed as powerful Jedi Masters, many as Rey or Leia, but even more clad in Rebel pilot uniforms. Several people take advantage of the laissez faire dress code to dress up as sexy Ewoks: a lot of skin, a little fur, and a sharp spear.
And all of these people party hard. If they’re not sitting in a tent outside of the convention center waiting for the doors to open for The Last Jedi panel in two days’ time, they’re almost certainly taking part in cosplay gatherings, podcast hangouts, or going to one of the many shindigs and galas throughout the weekend. The 501st Legion, one of the biggest cosplay groups in the world, is going to throw a big party at the Hyatt Regency on Saturday night that costs $100 a head to attend and will feature a performance by “honorary member” Weird Al Yankovic. According to the invite, no food will be served, but it’s the place to be if “you’re on a liquid diet.”
At a hotel bar a few blocks away from the convention center, they play the Star Wars films on loop and serve specialty drinks based on the movies, including a blue milk-inspired rum drink that’s probably not what Aunt Beru had in mind. Some attendees prefer something stronger though, like the Hennessy being consumed by Hip Hop Trooper’s entourage. Yes, even Star Wars social media personalities have a crew willing to follow them around for the weekend.
Hip Hop Trooper, whose real name is Eugene Brown, walks into a bar the night before Celebration’s opening ceremony with a squad of men and women wearing t-shirts that say “Run SWC” in homage to both this awe-inspiring gathering of fans and Brown’s favorite hip hop group, Run DMC.
While Brown is not wearing his signature red Adidas-branded Stormtrooper armor or carrying his matching red boombox that first night, he’s still easily recognizable among the crowd at the bar. The Star Wars fan community has an ecosystem within itself, its own stars outside of the world-famous actors they worship. Brown, for example, has his own action figure that people flip for profit on eBay. That’s the kind of fame that’s apparently afforded to folks with over 90,000 followers on Instagram.
“Because my figures are on eBay, people buy them at retail and then sell them for five times as much. It’s unbelievable,” Brown says. “I look up the Vader from the day I was born and I’m worth more than him!”
But despite superstardom within the community—and people really turn out for this guy’s dance routine—Brown doesn’t make a living off of being Hip Hop Trooper (although Adidas does send him the occasional swag bag). There’s something much more personal that makes him don the red armor: a tale of overcoming bullying in his native England one Star Wars action figure at a time. When he was a child, Star Wars really was a new hope.
“I’ll tell you a story I’ve never told anyone,” Brown says. He remembers traveling a lot as a kid and being bullied. There were days when Brown didn’t want to go to school at all. To cheer him up, his father would hide Star Wars figures in his son’s shoes. “I’d wake up in the morning and I’d put my shoe on, not wanting to go to school, and I’d feel—Oh! What’s this? And it would just bring me up.”
Brown’s favorite figure was Boba Fett, the masked bounty hunter who is barely in the Original Trilogy at all but carries a mystique unmatched by any other character in the saga. Perhaps it was Fett’s implied man-with-no-name toughness that helped Brown cope with bullying.
“The day I created Hip Hop Trooper, it was so easy because that was my life,” Brown says. “I had the hip hop culture and the hope of Star Wars.”
The Dark Side
There are plenty of other stories like Brown’s—tales of people finding hope in bad situations, connecting, and expressing themselves through the galaxy far, far away. There’s an ownership that fans feel for this saga, especially now that the franchise has switched hands from a sole creator to a new group of storytellers. When George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney, big-name fans like J.J. Abrams, Gareth Edwards, Rian Johnson, and Dave Filoni took on the responsibility of expanding the universe and moving it forward.
While this ownership often translates into beauty—whether it's a billion-dollar blockbuster premiere at Mann’s Chinese Theater or something on a smaller, more intimate scale, like the people getting Star Wars tattoos in a buzzing corner of a convention center—there’s also a dark side to feeling like something belongs solely to a specific group of people. A sort of exclusivity is born in the most hardcore echelons of fandom.
In one such instance, a group of angry fans declared “spoiler jihad” on The Force Awakensafter Disney erased much of the franchise’s old continuity, doing away with elements of beloved Star Wars books and comics from the 1990s and 2000s to accommodate the new movie. Their objective? To ruin the movie for as many people as possible.
Angie Lewis, one of the fans getting fresh ink at Celebration Orlando’s Tattoo Pavilion (a little BB-8 on her shoulder), recognizes the issues with certain subsections of the community.
“There are people who come around and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, you’re not a real fan.’ Not specifically to me, but I don’t like it when people say that at all. Because if you like it, you’re a real fan, right?”
That rationale should make perfect sense, and while Lewis has ultimately found the community to be welcoming (many others share this sentiment), it’s no secret that it’s sometimes difficult to be a certain kind of Star Wars fan, whether it’s because of who you are or what you think.
The last few years have seen widespread backlash against the push for more diversity in fantasy and science fiction. Disney-era Star Wars has received its fair share of criticism for casting women as the protagonists of both The Force Awakensand Rogue One. In fact, The Last Jedi will be the third female-led Star Wars film in three years. Some fans have even willfully interpreted this as a plot to make Star Wars “anti-male.” These are the same people who feel that their childhoods have been stolen from them, replaced by a “social justice warrior agenda.”
The idea that Star Wars is primarily a boys’ club is usually planted at a young age, such as in the case of Katie Goldman, a little girl who was bullied at school for liking something that’s “only for boys.” Her story went viral after her mother Carrie blogged about how Katie no longer wanted to like Star Wars because of the bullying.
There have been several documented cases like Katie’s, where girls are mocked solely on the basis that Star Wars “isn’t for them.” Many of these stories have heartwarming endings with the community rushing to their aid, reassuring them that the things they love are for them and anyone else who wants in. The 501st Legion even gifted Katie and two other girls in similar situations with custom-made stormtrooper costumes and, in one case, a meeting with Weird Al, who somehow keeps popping up.
The side in favor of diversity has its clear champions. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, for one, hopes more women will be involved in the actual making of the films.
“Fifty percent of our executive team are women. Six out of eight of the people in my Story Group are women. I think it’s making a huge difference in the kind of stories we’re trying to tell,” Kennedy told Fortune back in 2015. “I'm confident we will eventually hire a woman who directs a Star Wars movie.” As of right now, all of the directors hired for the new movies have been white men.
Of course, for every Kennedy, there is someone lying in wait in internet comment sections, making ridiculous statements about how “women can’t survive in space,” referring to Rey, the protagonist of The Force Awakens. And then there are the accusations that Rey is a “Mary Sue,” an overpowered character who is too perfect, too capable.
It’s disheartening when you consider that these fans worship the same franchise that gave birth to Princess Leia, a character who was revolutionary at a time when many of her sci-fi contemporaries were still oversexualized damsels. Of course the late, great Carrie Fisher faced her own challenges from these fans, the same ones who perhaps also took part in body shaming the older General Leia in The Force Awakens. “Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well,” was her perfect retort on Twitter. “Unfortunately, it hurts all three of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.”
Fisher’s advice to Daisy Ridley upon being cast as Rey in The Force Awakens echoed the older actresses’ attitude toward Princess Leia’s status as a sex symbol:
“You should fight for your outfit,” she told Ridley during a Q&A for Interview magazine, specifically referencing her Slave Leia costume from Return of the Jedi. “Don’t be a slave like I was.”
Fisher never saw that infamous metal bikini as something to be sexualized. To Fisher that costume and the scenes it pertains to symbolize both a literal and metaphorical breaking of the chains of misogyny. She was practical about those who criticized the costume as a bad influence on little girls. When confronted by the disapproval of parents, Fisher told The Wall Street Journal, “Tell them that a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it. And then I took it off. Backstage.”
In the last three years, Star Wars films have certainly become more inclusive of women. The Last Jedi, for example, boasts at least five female characters: Rey, Leia, Captain Phasma, Rose (played by Kelly Marie Tran), and Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, a high-ranking Resistance officer portrayed by Academy Award-winning actress Laura Dern. Better yet, a woman now pilots the Millennium Falcon, arguably the most well-known spaceship in all of science fiction.
It’s comforting to know that the films are starting to live up to the promise of its more diverse Expanded Universe of TV series, books, comics, and video games. For years, the EU has featured great female characters, such as Mara Jade, Jaina Solo, Asajj Ventress, and Ahsoka Tano, and in recent years has pushed for the inclusion of more LGBTQ characters as well.
Of course, the introduction of LGBTQ characters has also been met with criticism from the more conservative corners of the fandom. When Star Wars: Aftermathauthor Chuck Wendig introduced a former Imperial Officer (and therefore a white man) named Sinjir Rath Velus in Star Wars: Aftermath, it struck a particular nerve. While Sinjir isn’t the first gay character in Star Wars canon—that honor goes to Imperial officer Moff Delian Mors, a lesbian, who first appeared in the novel Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp—he is currently the franchise’s most prominent.
Wendig came to the defense of Sinjir and LGBTQ fans in an uncharacteristically direct and confrontational manner with a blog post after the release of Aftermath in 2015.
“And if you’re upset because I put gay characters and a gay protagonist in the book, I got nothing for you,” Wendig wrote. “You’re not the Rebel Alliance. You’re not the good guys. You’re the fucking Empire, man. You’re the shitty, oppressive, totalitarian Empire. If you can imagine a world where Luke Skywalker would be irritated that there were gay people around him, you completely missed the point of Star Wars.”
The outrage surrounding Aftermath was nothing compared to what followed a year later, only days before the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. A group of fans rushed to Twitter, determined to boycott the new movie. #DumpStarWars was born in response to a pair of tweets posted by screenwriters Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta in which they asserted that the films were anti-white supremacist.
“Please note that the Empire is a white supremacist (human) organization,” wrote Weitz. Gary Whitta’s reply: “Opposed by a multi-cultural group led by brave women.”
Many took this to mean that the film was anti-Donald Trump. While Star Wars’ anti-fascist, anti-xenophobic message has always been clear to some—including Lucas, who used Nazi imagery and language to inform the Empire’s units—there’s a group of people that gleaned a completely different message from Star Wars.
#DumpStarWars wasn’t even the first time a group of fans have threatened to #BoycottStarWars. In 2015, Twitter trolls urged people to boycott The Force Awakens because of a black actor’s prominence in the film. According to The Guardian, one troll even claimed that actor John Boyega’s casting in the film was promoting “white genocide.” At one point, even the Chinese promotional poster for The Force Awakenscame under scrutiny after it allegedly minimized Boyega’s role to appeal to the country’s audience.
“I’m in the movie, what are you going to do about it?” Boyega told V magazine in response to the blatantly racist remarks. “You either enjoy it or you don’t. I’m not saying get used to the future... [it] is already happening. People of color and women are increasingly being shown onscreen. For things to be whitewashed just doesn’t make sense.”
As you meet members of the fan community, you’ll find the majority are glad that the franchise represents more than one group of people. There’s a solidarity in the crowd at Celebration Orlando. These fans are just happy to be with other people who love what they love. Star Wars is no longer “The Great White Void,” as actor Raymond St. Jacques put it in a letter to the LA Times in July 1977.
For those who have missed the entire point of Star Wars, there must be a growing fear that time has passed them by, that their complaints will someday be completely forgotten. No opening crawl will tell their story.
The Unifying Force
Despite the obvious fracture in the fandom, Celebration Orlando’s confrontations are all for show. A group of more than 50 Rebel pilots reenact the huddle before the Battle of Hoth, while the 501st Legion’s stormtroopers and Imperial officers block the corridors outside the expo floor like true oppressors. Soldiers salute each other in the hallways, an Imperial smiles while referring to another group of cosplayers as “Rebel scum.” Jedi and Sith are tempted to break into an epic duel of the fates, but they know they’ll probably get escorted out by security.
Everyone at Celebration Orlando is perfectly happy, sharing the love of the timeless story that brings them all together.
Yet there’s something somber hanging over everyone’s head, especially on Thursday and Friday. It’s the first Celebration without our princess. During a beautiful tribute to Fisher at the “40 Years of Star Wars” panel, many sob quietly. In that moment, Leia isn’t just a woman or a senator, a soldier or a leader. Maybe not even a character. She’s a symbol of hope. Everyone feels it in the room as John Williams conducts the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in a rendition of “Princess Leia’s Theme.” Leia will always represent the spirit to be better, to fight for your beliefs, and to persist in the face of adversity.
As voice actress Vanessa Marshall put it during the Rebels news conference later that weekend, “We have hope. There’s something about that that I think we all need right now.”
It’s at this same conference that many of the faithful gather to listen to Dave Filoni, arguably the most brilliant mind working on Star Wars since Lucas essentially left the keys to him and Kathleen Kennedy. Now with three seasons of Rebelsunder his belt, Filoni is his own kind of celebrity. At one point, Filoni is surrounded by ravenous fans in the lobby of the convention center. They don’t let him get through to the escalators. They want to shake his hand, take pictures, touch his hat, touch him. He greets as many people as he can before security finally splits the crowd right through the middle. From the top floor looking down, people call eagerly for their loved ones to come look, see the man who inherited Star Wars, before he’s gone.
Just prior to this, Filoni, archbishop of Star Wars, shares what he’s learned about these stories, what he understands them to be about. A group of reporters at the Rebels news conference listen to the showrunner evangelize about the ultimate truth of the Force:
“Belief in the Force itself is part of what drives it,”says Filoni. “Not everybody in the Star Wars universe believes in it, which is interesting because its actions and abilities are on display quite often. So why doesn’t everybody believe in it? Because it takes discipline and training and practice, and commitment and faith to believe in this thing that gives you power that flows through you. It’s in all of you. And that’s great and it’s also dangerous.”
It feels like he’s no longer talking about Star Wars but of our current times, of the choices for which we will be remembered. Will future generations, 50 years from now, a hundred, look back on us, on our world, and conclude that we got it all wrong? Will they be better?
Filoni is trying to save all of us now, while we can still course correct. As Anakin proved in Return of the Jedi, it’s never too late for that. It’s goodness the long way around.
“It’s the ultimate choice: do you follow wickedness or do you, in the face of fear, turn to good? Fear is the root of all evil. Fear destroys everything,” he says. “And if you take nothing else from Star Wars, it’s that you should make no decision out of fear.”
Filoni is almost whispering now. He’s thought about every single word of this gospel. His message is one of love, a reminder that when “the Emperor stands before you” and you feel “powerless,” you have to remember to “throw your weapon away.” The gathered are in a trance.
“I love the person next to me. I love my father, I love my mother, and nothing you do can destroy that. Nothing. And you stand on your commitment. And then that inspires the hope, that inspires the love, which is something evil doesn’t understand. That’s the core of Star Wars.”
There’s an overwhelming silence. A room full of quiet consideration. Maybe for a fraction of a second, the power of the Force. And then all of his followers break into enthusiastic applause.
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