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    The First Order's Captain Phasma fought her way back to the top after her embarrassing ending in The Force Awakens.

    Feature Megan Crouse
    Dec 14, 2017

    This Star Wars article contains spoilers.

    In Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Captain Phasma is ready to fight Finn, a soldier formerly under her command, to the death for his betrayal and work against the First Order. But the last time any fans will remember seeing her on screen is on her way to an undignified end in the trash compactor of Starkiller Base. So how did Phasma end up back in the fight after the superweapon was destroyed? Released as part of the Journey to the Last Jedi line of books and comics, Marvel’s Captain Phasma miniseries has the answer. 

    Written by Kelly Thompson, with art by Marco Chechetto, Captain Phasma is a five-issue series for now, although the "Book I" title in the text crawl might allow for more to come. We assume Marvel has paused the story until after The Last Jedi to avoid any overlap or spoilers.

    The story of "Book I" follows the fearsome First Order captain from a daring escape from Starkiller Base to an inhospitable planet populated by warring species. Phasma is willing to betray and backstab almost anyone to get her way, even a fellow member of the First Order. 

    Her backstory was also explored in the novel Phasma, which we reviewed here. From the sands of her homeworld Parnassos to the stormy seas of Luprora, the captain has always been a mysterious figure, a woman who doesn’t let other people get close enough to even see her face. Her fate in The Last Jedi is sealed, but the comics showed us more about where she found herself after Finn and Han pushed her aside on the way to their destinies. 

    How Phasma Escaped the Trash Compactor

    During Kylo Ren’s ill-fated encounter with his father, Phasma was not experiencing such dark apotheosis. Six minutes before the base is ready to fire its weapon, she is trudging through trash, calmly and deliberately making a record of her own survival. The problem: that record includes the fact that she lowered the shield around the base, allowing the Resistance starfighters through. 

    The comic doesn’t linger on what happened inside the trash compactor. While Phasma seems to share the disgusting space with a tentacled alien not unlike the Death Star’s dianoga, she isn’t nearly as inconvenienced by it as Luke Skywalker was on the Death Star. She steps past the creature and goes on her way. The fact that the comic doesn’t linger on the trash compactor helps sell Phasma as a villain — even though she caved under Han, Finn, and Chewbacca’s threats, she finds her way back to the working part of the base pretty quickly after the Resistance blows a hole in the trash compactor during a bombing run. 

    Phasma's escape off the planet involves her running through the snowy forest where Kylo and Rey are having their fateful lightsaber duel. She sees the fighting, but doesn't do anything to help her fellow First Order comrade. Instead, she makes it to a TIE fighter and flies off before Starkiller Base exploded.

    The real problem for her is her treachery. The comic also answers what could be big plot holes for her character. Why did she lower the shield? Additionally, did General Hux and Kylo Ren ever discover her role in the destruction of their base?

    Killing the Scapegoat 

    The answer to the second question is a resounding no. As soon as she emerges from the trash compactor, Phasma discovers that only one other person has a copy of the record of her actions in the control room: Sol Rivas, a lieutenant in the stormtrooper corps. She creates a false record, with no mention of her part in the matter, then erases the original and frames Rivas for lowering the shields. The lie shows how Phasma is willing to throw her own soldiers under the bus if she thinks it will benefit herself. 

    Phasma tracks down Rivas first in the exploding Starkiller Base, but he is able to escape on his own TIE fighter during the chaos. Eventually, Phasma finds Rivas on the environmentally-unstable planet Luprora and kills him by the end of the miniseries, eliminating the "traitor" and covering her tracks.

    Her quest to kill Rivas is where the comic and the novel jive together well. The novel shows how Phasma was forced to make tough choices, including hurting her own people to keep their lives as safe as possible in their dangerous, irradiated wasteland of a planet. What loyalty she had to her family and her people died when they did on Parnassos, and the First Order seems to have hardened her even further. 

    The one thing she has left to value is herself. That identity now includes her position in the First Order — whether for the power it gives her or because as a child of Parnassos she witnessed a world run by warlords. Perhaps she values her role in the First Order because it guarantees her food, shelter, and overall survival. Whatever her motivation, she needs to clean up her loose ends to keep that status. That means Rivas never stood a chance.

    Why Phasma Lowered Starkiller Base's Shield in The Force Awakens

    Phasma’s ruthlessness scares even her own troopers. She recruits a First Order pilot, TN-3465, to help her chase Rivas to Luprora. She later winds up in trouble, too: TN-3465 overhears Phasma’s conversation with Rivas and tries to hide her knowledge from Phasma.

    The last issue also explains more of Phasma's thinking towards others. She believes that the species that colonized Luprora must evolve or die to stand up against the violent weather and rival creatures on their planet. If they die, they have simply been rejected by their world. Phasma does not bother to try to save them. 

    “I’m a survivor. No matter what the cost,” Phasma says. 

    Those words answer the question posed by her actions in The Force Awakens. She lowered the shield because it was the best way for her to survive. In the end, she executes TN-3465 despite the time they spent together, all in order to keep her secret hidden.

    In The Last Jedi, she seems to still believe that the First Order is her best route for survival. But in true Star Wars fashion, villains get their comeuppance, and Phasma’s fatal flaw seems to be her selfishness. By the end of the comic, she has regained her place in the First Order. Believing her lie, General Hux welcomes Phasma back and congratulated her on her loyalty and determination. The Last Jedi starts just when The Force Awakens left off, but we now know exactly what happened to the First Order’s enforcer in between.

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    Star Wars Battlefront 2 finally reveals how Luke Skywalker found Ahch-To and the first temple of the Jedi.

    News John Saavedra
    Dec 14, 2017

    This Star Wars Battlefront II article contains spoilers.

    Star Wars Battlefront II introduces a plethora of new characters in a story campaign that bridges the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. But while the game mostly focuses on Iden Versio and her elite unit of Imperial operatives, Inferno Squad, a few fan-favorite characters pop up for a quick cameo. 

    Luke Skywalker gets a rare post-RotJappearance about a third into the game. The fact that he's playable in the campaign at all is exciting enough, considering that we've barely experienced any new stories about Luke that explain why he's exiled himself on Ahch-To before The Force Awakens. We know the short of it: Luke chose isolation on one of the islands of the distant planet after his nephew, Ben Solo, turned to the dark side and slaughtered all of the students in Luke's new Jedi Order. He's been hiding out ever since, due to his failure to keep Ben out of Supreme Leader Snoke's clutches and save his students. 

    But everything we've seen from The Last Jedi thus far reveals that there's more to Ahch-To than that. While we're informed that Luke went searching for the first Jedi temple in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi's trailers flesh out why this temple is so important to Luke. It may very well contain the oldest chronicle of the Jedi Order and the galaxy as a whole in the form of the Journal of the Whills, a book that's been teased in many of the promos released thus far. It is speculated that the chronicle holds secrets about the Jedi that convince Luke that the Order must end once and for all. 

    We'll soon find out for sure what that book is all about when The Last Jedi hits theaters on Dec. 15. Until then, Star Wars Battlefront II has at the very least answered a pivotal question as to how Luke found the temple on Ahch-To in the first place.

    There's a level in the story campaign where you play as Luke, who's come to the bug-infested planet of Pillio. Something on the planet has called out to him through the Force, and Luke wants to find out what it is. After a run-in with Imperial stormtroopers and an imperiled member of Inferno Squad, Del Meeko, Luke discovers what's been calling out to him: a hidden vault belonging to the late Emperor Palpatine. 

    While Meeko is tasked with destroying the vault before the Rebellion can get their hands on anything in it, Luke takes one mysterious relic with him: a compass. It is implied that this compass is what eventually leads Luke to Ahch-To to discover the deepest secrets of the Jedi. 

    This also sets up another interesting precedent: Emperor Palpatine knew about Ahch-To and presumably about its secrets. So why didn't he have the compass destroyed when he had the chance? Leaving the task up to the remaining Imperials after his death seems like a dumb idea. Regardless, at least we know more of the intricacies of Luke's situation at the end of The Force Awakens. We assume The Last Jedi will address more of Luke's post-RotJ journey and give us the full picture. 

    For now, enjoy demolishing your enemies as Luke Skywalker in Battlefront long as your willing to cough up the cash to do so

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    Deadpool’s R-rated future after family-friendly Disney’s monumental acquisition of 21st Century Fox is apparently not so bleak.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Dec 14, 2017

    The Marvel-branded X-Men movies, which notably include the R-rated Deadpool, now face a future at the mercy of the Infinity Gauntlet-like force of Disney’s now-finalized acquisition of 21st Century Fox. However, it appears that their imminent arrival under the same generally family-friendly corporate umbrella as The Avengers movies may not necessarily mark a mouse-eared makeover. That’s because a promising discussion of Deadpool came up in the initial investors meeting.

    Shortly after the $52 billion deal was finalized, Disney CEO Bob Iger took to a conference call with investors and the Ryan Reynolds-starring, proudly R-rated, Deadpool was obviously a major topic on the movie front, since it stands as the highest-earning X-Men film of all-time with its $783 million worldwide gross. While Deadpool is a crude, lewd, libidinous outlier of a comic book movie, Iger believes that – branded properly – the series does have a place at Disney. As Iger explains (via THR):

    "It [Deadpool] clearly has been and will be Marvel branded. But we think there might be an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something likeDeadpool. As long as we let the audiences know what's coming, we think we can manage that fine."

    Disney obviously has its hands full of Marvel movies with the circuitously-connected, nearly decade-old, Marvel Cinematic Universe of The Avengers franchise, expanded in recent years with Doctor Strange and – via joint venture with Sony – Spider-Man. Yet, the Fox acquisition finally makes it possible to unify the intellectual property bifurcation of the Marvel Comics lineup, potentially ending the separation of the X-Men mutant mythos from the lauded, ever-expanding MCU; something that, up until now, was a fantasy prevented by rival corporate monoliths.

    Star Ryan Reynolds wasted no time, using the Disney/Fox deal as fodder for more social media gold. Back on November 6, when the story was still just a rumor, Reynolds initially tweeted, "If this is true, I wonder how the fudge it would affect Deadpool?" However, with the deal’s confirmation today, Reynolds unloaded a hilarious photo of Deadpool’s disastrous first day as a Disney employee, escorted out of Disneyland in handcuffs.

    While it may be too soon to confirm that idea of Deadpool and the other Marvel mutants joining the MCU, Iger’s comments do confirm that, in the very least, Disney has no desire to fix what isn’t broken vis-à-vis Fox’s burgeoning R-rated comic book efforts, exemplified by the success of 2016's Deadpool and 2017’s Logan, which, serving as Hugh Jackman’s final outing as the adamantium-aligned berserker, managed to use its R-rated content to reinvent the movie franchise in a bleak, but powerful manner, yielding an also-impressive $616 million worldwide. With the summer 2018 arrival of the Deadpool sequel looking as auspicious of a project as any, Disney won't be looking at a cursing, pop-culture-referencing gift horse in the mouth with unwanted sanitization.

    Deadpool 2 (official title to be determined,) will arrive at theaters with the enthusiasm of a homicidal Mouseketeer on June 1, 2018.

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    Chad Stahelski, the directorial visionary of the John Wick series, will helm a movie adaptation of Image Comics’ Kill or Be Killed.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Dec 14, 2017

    While John Wick director Chad Stahelski is already booked to return for the 2019-scheduled John Wick: Chapter 3 and has burgeoning prospects for a movie reboot of Highlander, it appears that a most intriguing comic book movie project in Kill or Be Killed has landed on his backlog.

    Stahelski will reportedly reteam with repertory John Wick franchise producer Basil Iwanyk to adapt Image Comics'Kill or Be Killed as a film for Columbia Pictures, according to THR. The comic series centers on the supernatural ordeal of protagonist Dylan, a depressed graduate student who attempts a building-leaping suicide over the lament of a failed love affair. However, an opportunistic demon catches existential wind of the act and saves Dylan’s life, but locks him into the sinister caveat of having to earn each month of his life with a murder. Consequently, Dylan – deciding that he wants to live – exploits a moral grey area by fulfilling this sacrifice as a masked gun-wielding vigilante.

    Kill or Be Killed is a comic extravaganza of ultraviolence worthy of the John Wick auteur. Showcasing the art of Sean Phillips, the series is the creation of acclaimed writer Ed Brubaker, who staked his claim to comic book fame with early-2000s offerings exploring Batman with DC Comics, along with Marvel runs on Uncanny X-Men and Daredevil. However, with his reinventing run on Captain America, starting back in 2005, Brubaker became notable for making what arguably became the biggest retcon in comics history, reviving the hero’s long-dead sidekick Bucky Barnes as the brainwashed, cybernetically enhanced Winter Soldier. It’s a concept that would be famously adapted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the central story of 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

    With Kill or Be Killed, director Chad Stahelski will work off a script by Dan Casey, who’s no stranger to Brubaker material, having worked on a yet-to-be produced adaptation of his comic, Incognito. While there’s no indication yet that Brubaker himself will be directly involved, it should be noted that the comic creator has recently delved into live-action media, having worked uncredited on the script – adapting his own comic book story – for Winter Soldier, along with TV episodes of HBO’s Westworld and Netflix Marvel series Iron Fist. Additionally, Brubaker is tapped to write a TV adaptation of his graphic novel, Velvet, and his noir-inspired comic, Fatale, is reportedly in development as a TV project for Spike.

    We’ll be sure to update you on the significant developments of Kill or Be Killed as they arrive.

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    We look at several options Disney and Marvel Studios will consider before putting the X-Men into the Avengers-led MCU.

    Feature David Crow
    Dec 14, 2017

    So as you’ve probably heard, Disney bought itself something really nice for the holidays. Like $52 billion nice. Yes, that sounds like a lot, but it’s the price tag placed on the film, television, and other miscellaneous media acquisitions the Mouse House is picking up from 21st Century Fox. While we won’t know for next 12 to 18 months the full effect this has on the industry—from television to the invaluable Fox Searchlight—Bob Iger, the Walt Disney Company chairman and CEO, has already notified investors that the plan is to incorporate 20th Century Fox’s licensed Marvel IPs, notably X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool, into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’re headed home.

    Regarding Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and Marvel’s First Family, Iger said earlier today, “[The deal] provides Disney with the opportunity to reunite the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool with the Marvel family under one roof and create richer, more complex worlds of interrelated characters and stories that audiences have shown they love.” In other words, the MCU is getting all of the superhero rights, even to Ryan Reynolds’ filthy and R-rated Deadpool franchise. We’ve had issues with this prospect in the past, but as it’s going ahead, it’s time to consider just how to make the MCU and X-Men universes collide.

    A Cosmic Crossover

    The easiest solution might also be the messiest, but there is a certain simplicity to it: organically integrate the existing franchise of X-Men movies into the MCU. It’s not like Disney isn’t having this conversation.

    Indeed, among Iger’s other comments, he signaled the desire to maintain the R-rated brand to the rather beloved Deadpool franchise that currently exists in the X-Men cinematic universe. Says Iger, “[Deadpool] clearly has been and will be Marvel branded. But we think there might be an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something like Deadpool, as long as we let the audiences know what’s coming, we think we can manage that fine.”

    This is hardly confirmation that they intend to keep the current continuity of the frequently timeline-muddled X-films, but there’s at least an opening if they want an R-rated Deadpool franchise. After all, that already exists at Fox and is doing fine without any of Marvel Studios’ tinkering. And the idea of someone else playing the Merc with a Mouth besides Ryan Reynolds might be close to sacrilege at this point. In fact, Reynolds teased exactly that on Twitter by suggesting his foulmouthed alter-ego could make an uneasy but amusing addition to the Happiest Place on Earth.™

    The simplest way to do that would be to have the existing X-Men universe crossover with the MCU, which is easier than it sounds. Admittedly, neither are natural bedfellows because the current X-Men franchise has created a rich in-universe history. Thanks to the last three “mainline” X-Men movies, we know that mutants have been public knowledge since the 1960s and have been involved in Earth-shattering events nearly every decade thereafter. They also go back all the way to ancient antiquity in Egypt. Conversely, the Marvel Cinematic Universe suggested Captain America is the the first superhero in the aptly named Captain America: The First Avenger, which is set during the 1940s. Other Marvel films have filled in events from the 20th century but mutants are nowhere to be found.

    Yet the best answer for reconciling these differences is actually in the next X-film, X-Men: Dark Phoenix. That movie stars Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner as the most powerful mutant in history whose godlike, cosmic gifts will even attract the attention of intergalactic aliens. And as that film has been suggested to leave room for a sequel, the following film could easily have the Phoenix causing a reality-tearing event that merges her universe with an alternate one where Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man plays love taps with Chris Evans’ Captain America. Think about it, Phoenix causes mutants to show up in the MCU, and thus becomes an instant threat to Marvel’s traditional heroes. Talk about an easy fast track to an Avengers vs. X-Men movie without a decade-long build-up.

    Would that be messy? Maybe. Impossible? Not in a world that has already created two alternative X-Men movie timelines thanks to X-Men: Days of Future Past (which remains one of the most popular superhero movies). This would also allow Disney to absorb, in addition to Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool, a murderer’s row of talent already cast in the X-films, including Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Brolin (as flesh and blood Cable, not a CG-baddie), and rising newcomers like Turner, Maisie Williams, Tye Sheridan, and Anya Taylor-Joy. Not a bad deal right? Well…

    Just Reboot It All

    The next option, which is probably the most appealing to hardcore comic books fans (and perhaps Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige), is to simply give a hard reboot to everything. There is certainly precedent considering Marvel Studios integrated a Sony-produced Spider-Man into its mythos by starting from scratch and abandoning the Andrew Garfield-led The Amazing Spider-Man movies for a baggage-free Tom Holland.

    Holland’s Spidey even opened bigger than The Amazing Spider-Man 2 when Spider-Man: Homecoming grossed $117 million in its first three days (up $26 million from Sony’s effort). This also would allow Feige to build the X-Men in his own image with no baggage from a universe where almost all the key parts have been cast (often twice). He also might find it easier to create his own Wolverine who won’t ever be tangentially connected to Hugh Jackman’s intimidating iconography (even if a cosmic event caused Logan to “live again.”).

    It’s the cleanest route, and even Ryan Reynolds is replaceable. Iger spoke vaguely of a Marvel branded Deadpool, but that might be a franchise that has the MCU’s golden goose touch and none of the ownership Reynolds enjoys over the branded IP.

    Why Not Pick and Choose?

    Still… it seems like a shame to throw out the baby with the bathwater in the X-adjacent films. While X-Men: Apocalypse was a disappointment, Deadpool killed during the same year, and we personally consider this year’s Logan to be the best superhero movie of the last five years. Granted, Jackman’s Wolverine is dead, but that film is so far removed from other superhero movies, it could continue its own saga as unencumbered by other continuity as Marvel’s supposedly connected (but otherwise cinematically ignored) adult-themed Netflix shows, such as Daredevil and Jessica Jones.

    As James Mangold is up for awards consideration for his Logan, his planned X-23 spinoff starring Dafne Keen would be pointless to throw away. Similarly, early 2018 will see the release of Josh Boone’s The New Mutants. If it is a hit that’s well received, and has little or nothing to do with the mainline X-films, it would be silly to not greenlight a sequel that, again like Marvel Television, can be autonomous from Feige’s carefully curated MCU. One that also continues the journey that Boone is setting out to tell in a horror-themed New Mutants trilogy. Plus, the sight of superheroes going to Hell (or “Limbo”) in a sequel is too groovy of a concept to pass up.

    It is almost inevitable Feige and Disney would rather start from scratch with the straight-ahead X-Men films, no matter the quality of next year’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix. It will be hard to replace the likes of Fassbender or McAvoy, but not impossible. But there really is no need to replace Keen, or Williams and Taylor-Joy in New Mutants, or especially Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool. The smartest solution is to just let Reynolds keep doing his Deadpool thing in a “Marvel-R” while Feige starts from the ground up on the traditional X-Men IP, so it looks just like everything else in the MCU.

    We won’t know the direction Marvel pursues for potentially years, but which would you like to see?

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    Bring on the bad guys! Villains like Dr. Doom and Magneto are just what the doctor ordered for the MCU.

    Feature Mike Cecchini
    Dec 15, 2017

    After 17 movies, scratch that...17 wildly successful movies, Marvel Studios, for all of their crowd-pleasing accomplishments, has managed to deliver us exactly two truly memorable villains (Tom Hiddleston's Loki and Michael Keaton's Vulture, in case you had to ask). To use some Marvel-speak, we’re right on the cusp of “Phase Four,” and four is two integers higher than the number of genuinely worthwhile villains they’ve managed to put on the big screen in the last nine years (they've fared better on Netflix with Wilson Fisk, Kilgrave, Mariah Dillard, and Billy Russo, but we're talking about the movies here). 

    And while Marvel has struggled to deliver threatening villains since 2008 in that same period of time (and in far fewer movies) Warner Bros. gave us Heath Ledger's immortal Joker performance in The Dark Knight. Even a secondary baddie like Cillian Murphy's Scarecrow carried more weight than most of the punching bags Marvel has delivered. Tom Hardy's Bane not only broke Batman but crafted a nightmarish vision for a Gotham City that looked uncomfortably like New York. Hell, for all their struggles, the DCEU managed to give us Michael Shannon's truly memorable General Zod in Man of Steel. So what's Marvel missing?

    The Marvel formula is reasonably simple, and it's made even the less impressive films at least thoroughly entertaining. You make your hero, flawed though he or she may be, as enjoyable as possible to watch on screen, you keep the stakes big and loud if not demonstrably high, and you break the tension at every opportunity with some wit. It works. But audiences have caught on to storytelling sleight-of-hand and realize that there has rarely been a moment where we really thought the villain would come out on top in a battle, let alone a war. Maybe Thanos, with the godlike, reality-warping powers afforded him by the Infinity Stones, will change that in Avengers: Infinity War.

    There's little doubt that Tom Hiddleston's Loki is the most indispensable bad guy in the MCU. But Loki is very much a god of mischief, not a god of real evil, and with the exception of a few moments in The Avengers, it's far too easy to root for him while he's busy charming everyone in sight. If you're hoping to get some kind of crowd-pleasing "Loki saves the day" moment in Avengers: Infinity War, well, nobody would blame you, and Marvel may just deliver. On the other hand, no sane person really wanted to see the Joker, Bane, or Ra's al Ghul succeed in the Dark Knight trilogy.

    The best that Iron Man had to offer, the Mandarin, had to be subverted (brilliantly or otherwise, depending on who you ask) in order to steer away from some of the more uncomfortably racist implications of the character for his appearance in Iron Man 3. Was Ben Kingsley's Mandarin memorable? Certainly. Is he a villain truly worthy of the third installment of a massive superhero movie? Probably not.

    But when the potential of an all-time great villain like the Red Skull (and a potentially perfect bit of casting in the case of Hugo Weaving) is squandered, something just ain’t right. Anyone remember much of what Johann Schmidt got up to in Captain America: The First Avenger other than get turned into a rainbow at the end? No? Me neither. On the other hand, outside of an exceedingly charming Robert Redford, Captain America: The Winter Soldier lacked one true villain for us to hang our hatred on, instead playing a long game with a redemption arc for the title villain. Nor was Heinrich Zemo ever sufficiently explored in Captain America: Civil War.

    There’s an argument to be made that characters like Iron Man and Thor don’t have the most potent jerks in their closets to begin with, so it’s understandable that they’d have to face a parade of soldier villains in the course of their respective franchises. The problem is that, until recently, a sizable chunk of Marvel's best villains simply weren't available for use at Marvel Studios. That, of course, has changed with Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox, which finally opens up the doors for the rosters of the X-Men and Fantastic Four to join the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

    And while the Fantastic Four are a perfect tonal match for the MCU, and the X-Men may present more of a challenge, there's already no shortage of bankable heroes already in play (even accounting for a number of key contracts expiring after these next two Avengers movies). But the Fox deal brings two characters far more important than the collective sum of their parts, and these two characters alone could reinvigorate Marvel movies for the next decade.

    I am, of course, talking about Doctor Doom and Magneto.

    Doom is arguably the greatest villain in all of comics (with apologies to the Joker). A key inspiration for Darth Vader, and long acknowledged as the driving force of villainy in the Marvel Universe from back when Thanos was just a vision in Jim Starlin's psychedelic explorations, Doom is exactly what has been missing from the MCU. A shadowy dictator with boundless scientific knowledge, a literal nation of his own to command, and an axe to grind. Think of all the technological wonders we've seen Tony Stark unleash on screen. Now imagine all of that and more being wielded by an Eastern European dictator with none of Tony's conscience.

    All of the Fantastic Four movies have been deeply flawed, but the sin they all have in common is how grievously they failed the character of Victor Von Doom. My only regret is that Benedict Cumberbatch is already tied to the role of Stephen Strange, because it's difficult to imagine anyone embodying this role to more imperious perfection. Well, maybe Michael Fassbender, which brings me to...

    When you make your comic book villain Mt. Rushmore, Magneto gets a prominent place, right next to Doctor Doom and the Joker. Marvel is going to have some explaining to do about where mutants have been this entire time. If they want to explain why the world hates and fears mutants, and perhaps why most mutants prefer to keep themselves secret, then it's crucial that Magneto be the first mutant we meet in the MCU. Not only is the master of magnetism one of the most powerful mutants alive, his motivations and sense of purpose would be wholly unique to the mostly one-dimensional baddies Marvel heroes have been gleefully steamrolling. Of course, unlike Doom, who has no cinematic baggage to speak of, Magneto has a legacy of brilliant actors who have defined him. Finding someone who can fill the purple cape of Ian McKellen or Michael Fassbender will be a challenge

    Neither of these are one-and-done villains, but nor are they the video game final bosses like Thanos would appear to be. These are villains who carry so much weight that it's no coincidence that Fox once considered a Magneto solo movie (which eventually morphed into X-Men: First Class) or that Legion showrunner Noah Hawley has been developing a Dr. Doom movie for the studio (the status of this in the wake of the Disney buyout is currently unknown). In fact, the smartest thing Marvel can do to not only help combat superhero movie fatigue but do their best villains right and show fans they're committed to upping the threat level in future movies, is give both Doom and Magneto their own movies, and let that set the tone for their respective heroes' inclusion in the MCU. Warner Bros. is already making noises about giving baddies like Joker, Deathstroke, and Black Adam solo movies, so Disney should get ahead of this trend while they can. 

    While both Magneto and Doctor Doom deserve the spotlight treatment as soon as humanly possible, and it would seem the Thanos drip-feed approach is dead after Infinity War, there's one other baddie who comes to the table with the Fox deal who will require a similar assemblage of heroes to combat him when the time comes.

    A giant cosmic being who literally drains the life-essence from planets and who has created a handful of marketable cosmic herals for himself? Yes, we'll be happy to meet Galactus briefly in a future Guardians of the Galaxy movie before everyone has to unite to take him on in Marvel's Fantastic Four III or whatever. And this time, you can bet your comic book collection he won't be a purple cloud.

    In any case, before we all start falling over ourselves to try and cast the next Wolverine or Professor X, or start salivating at the prospect of a Brad Bird helmed Fantastic Four movie, Marvel Studios should use these key players from their latest acquisition to shore up the one glaring hole the MCU has. Marvel can't keep Tom Hiddleston around forever, so they'd better find some top-drawer talent to embody Doom and Magneto, pronto.

    Bring on the bad guys.

    (main image art by John Byrne)

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    Laura Dern's Vice Admiral Holdo was a key part of Leia's past - and so was Crait. What does this tell us about Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

    Feature Megan Crouse
    Dec 16, 2017

    Princess Leia’s story seems to be at the core of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. There's no doubt that Carrie Fisher’s legacy will live on despite her sudden passing in late 2016, and the experience of watching The Last Jedi will surely be touched by the fact that this is her last Star Wars film. With Han Solo dead and their son at the head of the First Order, Leia's role in Episode VIII seems pivotal. 

    Some fans believe that what appears to be a confrontation with Kylo Ren, in which he faces his mother from the cockpit of an attacking TIE Fighter, is stitched together from different parts of the film and does not indicate a mother versus son space battle at all. Whether or not the scene plays out exactly as presented in the trailer, we know that Leia will continue in her role as a leader in the Resistance and mentor and commanding officer to Poe Dameron, Finn, Rose, and Paige Tico. She also may or may not be set up for a reunion with her brother, Luke Skywalker, whose life on Ach-To has been dramatically interrupted by the arrival of Rey, who wants to convince the Jedi Master to return to the fight against the First Order. 

    In an interview with Vanity Fair, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said that Episode IX would have been Carrie's movie (as Han Solo and Luke Skywalker are the centerpieces of the first two installments of the Sequel Trilogy). Former Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow also confirmed that Leia would have had a part in the story of the movie. That will no longer be the case. A digital reconstruction of her likeness was used in Rogue One, and Lucasfilm considered piecing together previously filmed scenes to posthumously add Leia into Episode IX. However, it was later confirmed that she will not be replaced with a digital double, and that her role in Episode IXtherefore would need to be written out.

    Luckily for her fans, Fisher completed her scenes for The Last Jedi. We've not seen much of what those scenes look like and there's no indication of how Johnson has constructed her exit from the franchise. A Nov. 14 TV spot called “Darkness Rises” shows Leia in her role as Resistance leader, granting Poe permission to “jump in an X-Wing and blow something up." Another bit of footage shows her on what looks like the surface of Crait, a mournful look in her eye. 

    Mark Hamill has also said that The Last Jedi will answer a question posed in The Force Awakens: Why didn’t Luke react to Leia while she was fighting with the Resistance during his exile? Perhaps, if the twins reunite one last time, we'll get that answer.

    Until then, there are still tons of Leia adventures to be had in the Expanded Universe. Like the books in the Journey to The Force Awakens series, Journey to The Last Jedi give some hints at what's in store in the new movie. The lone young adult book in the tie-in line, Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray, explains how Leia joined the Rebellion and shows how her parents' work with the resistance group - as well as her diplomatic training, first romance, and first sacrifices - shaped her to become the leader we know her as today.

    Most importantly, he book features the first appearance of the planet Crait and Leia’s friend, Amilyn Holdo, both of which will appear in Episode VIII. Here's what Leia: Princess of Alderaan reveals about The Last Jedi...

    Amilyn Holdo

    Vice Admiral Holdo, portrayed by Laura Dern on screen, met Leia for the first time at an outdoor survival class she took as part of her diplomatic training when they were teenagers. Leia considers her odd at first, because Holdo is easily distracted and constantly daydreams. Holdo acts flippant toward danger while expressing her excitement (“…if we stumble into a crevasse!”) but is also observant and kind towards her fellow students.

    As Leia gets to know Amilyn better, she learns that Amilyn’s home planet of Gatalenta is a peaceful world where people practice acrobatic meditations and often wear drab-colored clothing. Amilyn's own joyousness is a rebellion against her traditional culture. During their time together, Amilyn helps Leia understand the variety of different traditions in the galaxy, and Leia helps Amilyn become more comfortable with herself. Although she seems to still be wearing colorful clothes by the time of The Last Jedi, Leia notices that the teenage Amilyn begins to wear more muted colors as she finds a balance between her own personality and the traditions of her homeworld.

    By the time of The Last Jedi, Holdo has become a vice admiral in the Resistance and clashes with Poe Dameron over how to lead the fight. “She enters the Resistance to shake things up,” Laura Dern told EW.

    Oscar Isaac had said that Poe “doesn’t want to just wait and let things happen” and “doesn’t necessarily agree with the way Holdo sees the role of the Resistance in this particular moment.”

    Does this mean that Holdo urges Poe to hold back? Maybe so. Her laissez-faire approach in Leia: Princess of Alderaan might certainly be at odds with Poe’s more aggressive desire to blow things up. It wouldn't be out of character for Poe to disapprove of his superior officers, either. Poe has gone against the wishes of the larger Resistance before, such as when he and Leia coordinated a secret mission against a First Order collaborator in the middle grade book Before the Awakening. With both Poe and Amilyn having such strong personalities, it might take a lot to get them to see eye-to-eye in The Last Jedi.


    With its dramatic white sand, red dirt, and sparkling vulptices, the appearance of the planet Crait in the trailers for The Last Jedi helped stir up excitement for the film. In Princess of Alderaan Leia first spots Crait in some old space traffic data at the Empire's Calderos Station, the site of an Rebel attack. When Leia visits Crait, she notes “salt several centimeters thick” — the same terrain will Resistance ski speeders will cut through in The Last Jedi decades later.

    Leia has a bad feeing about the planet’s eerie wind and blood-red coloration, but Crait turns out to be the location of a small base for her allies in the Rebellion, and specifically for her father, Bail Organa. It’s here where she learns that her father is part of the Rebellion and that he's been hiding his activities from her in order to keep her safe.

    Leia realizes that, even if her parents want to keep her safe by concealing their work, her own investigations have already gotten her involved in the Rebellion. In this way, Crait could be seen as the birthplace of Leia’s military career.

    The Rebel base there is a small one, but it’s likely that this is how Leia knew to return to Crait when she needed to establish a new Resistance base in The Last Jedi. The planet would be out of the way enough for its significance not to be apparent to the First Order. Of course, we know from the trailers that the First Order eventually catches up with the Resistance on Crait...

    Crait will also feature in The Last Jedi: The Storms of Crait,  a single-issue comic coming out on Dec. 27. The comic will bring both Leia and Luke to the planet and might explain more about how the Resistane set up their base of operations there. 

    These two new additions, Crait and Amilyn Holdo, might be tied together in The Last Jedi. Could Leia’s work on the base on Crait be the reason Vice Admiral Holdo is in charge of the fleet when Poe confronts her? Maybe Leia is occupied during the ground battle while Poe and Holdo argue in the fleet.

    As the second act in the Sequel Trilogy, The Last Jedi is likely to include at least some defeat for the Resistance, digging them into a predicament from which they will have to escape before the (presumalby) triumphant end of Episode IX. Could Crait be The Last Jedi's Hoth - the site of a defeat? 

    Revisiting Leia: Princess of Alderaan after seeing Episode VIII should be interesting, and fans who become interested in Holdo through the movie will certainly find more about her here.

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    Given Leia's role in The Last Jedi, it's time to look back at the first comic book story that showed how strong she was in the Force.

    Feature Megan Crouse
    Dec 16, 2017

    This Star Wars article contains spoilers.

    By the time the credits rolled on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we were sure of one thing: Leia is incredibly strong in the Force! We won't spoil anything here, but there are one or two things we learn about Leia in Episode VIII that completely change our perception of the character.

    Leia's tale in the Sequel Trilogy has been one of transition, brought about by an evolution in her leadership role. For one thing, she's not called "Princess" anymore. Now she's the General of the Resistance. This isn't the first time she's taken on a new role in the history of Star Warseither. In the Legends timeline, she was also Chief of State several times during the New Republic Era and even picked up a lightsaber once or twice and joined Luke Skywalker's Jedi Order.

    Her role in the new film, plus the miniseries, inspired me to take a look back at one of my favorite moments in Princess Leia's long comic book history. While many will call to your attention her original appearances in the classic Marvel comics or her post-Return of the Jedi adventures in Dark Horse's legendary run, I direct you to a series that imagined the Leia that we all deserved: Leia, the mother of the New Jedi Order. Best of all, the miniseries wasn't even canon BEFORE the Legends rebranding...

    Star Wars: Infinities was a three-part series released between 2001 and 2004. In the same vein as the Tales series, which ran roughly concurrently from 1999 to 2005, Infinities stories were never presumed to be canon. Think Marvel's What If? series or DC's Elseworlds. Star Wars Tales and Star Wars: Visionaries had similar premises, and contained everything from Legends canon stories to outright parodies, but the Infinities series stuck specifically to the Original Trilogy and told longer alternate universe stories.

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    In Star Wars Infinities: The Empire Strikes Back, written by Dave Land and drawn by Davide Fabbri, we receive the gravest galaxy far, far away of all: Luke freezes to death on Hoth and Leia travels to Dagobah to train as a Jedi. And believe it when I tell you that things really get out of control. That's the sort of twist that Infinities uses as its thesis. What's the absolute most ridiculous way to turn these stories on their heads?

    (For example, in Infinities: A New Hope, Leia becomes a Sith Lord after the Rebels are defeated at the Battle of Yavin...)

    Because Luke dies in the ice after hearing Obi-Wan Kenobi's voice, a new potential Jedi must take up the young Rebel's mission to restore the Jedi Order. Before Luke perishes, he manages to tell Han to train as a Jedi and bring balance back to the Force. Han, who suffers from a bad case of delusions of grandeur, likes the idea. In fact, Han runs the first half of the miniseries pretty much, since he, hilariously and perfectly in-character, thinks that he’s the one with Jedi powers.

    More things that happen because Luke is dead: 

    - Wedge Antilles and Wes Janson, members of Rogue Squadron, die during the assault on Hoth;

    - Han doesn't go into the asteroid field, and instead travels straight to Bespin;

    - Lando prevents Han's capture on Bespin, so Vader blows him up along with the rest of Cloud City;

    - Han, Chewie, Leia, 3PO, and R2 travel to Dagobah to meet Yoda, who bluntly tells Han that Leia is the new chosen one;

    - Han and friends leave Leia with Yoda to begin her training. 

    Much of the rest of this miniseries could be categorized as really bad fan fiction that thankfully never made it onto the big screen. After all, who could see The Empire Strikes Backhappening any other way? But it's a noble effort to try and make something new out of an already perfect film. And it's with Leia's journey that the true gift of this series is revealed.

    Some scenes of her Jedi training are beautiful. They paint Leia as a scintillatingly powerful Jedi lacking only some common sense. She earns praise from Yoda, and then gets messy when her lightsaber strike causes an attacking swamp slug to explode. The scenes of her Jedi training work - and they do, even though they’re brief - because Leia takes to the training like she was destined to do, with a combination of Padme Amidala’s smarts and patience and Anakin Skywalker’s ferocity and bravery. 

    Leia is a fast learner, and you begin to see the difference between her and her deceased brother. She is more obedient, more open to the ways of the Force, and ultimately more successful in her training because she is patient. While Luke craves the adventure, Leia has seen enough death to make her wise to such urges. That is perhaps the true essence of her character.

    Luke was taken by his boyishness in The Empire Strikes Back into a defeat that cost him his hand and his spirits (for a brief moment), but Leia is already a true leader by the time she begins her Jedi training. It fits together quite well. It almost makes you wonder if that should have been the true outcome of the Trilogy. 

    The comic contains one of Leia’s great moments: fresh from acquiring a lightsaber crystal, she faces Darth Vader on Dagobah, which has become a battleground. Leia dons a purple blade and fights valiantly. She doesn’t win, of course. Just like Luke, it takes someone else’s assistance for her to kill Vader. In fact, characters who aren’t even from the same trilogy come forward to save her.

    The spirits of Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan, and Mace Windu all attack Vader, and Han, who manages to return to Dagobah on the Falcon after a lot of trouble back in Jabba's Palace, delivers a killing shot with his blaster. With his dying breath, Vader recognizes that he had a daughter.

    And thus, the Star Wars saga came to an abrupt and less satisfying end. But it's really what we learn about Leia in this alternate version of the tale that stands the most true. Even if Luke hadn't died and Leia had learned to use the Force, she might have still been a more effective student and leader than her brother. She definitely wouldn't have spent so much time chasing Han around...

    A dying Yoda tells Leia to find more Jedi. “Teach them as I have taught you,” Yoda says, and this, perhaps, is the most powerful result of the Infinities story - that Leia was directly instructed to become a teacher. Maybe she could go on to create a Jedi Academy like Luke’s. A better one, in fact.

    Leia is presented as a legendary warrior in the Sequel Trilogy. She is dutiful, hardened, and perhaps a bit angry and frustrated with the result of her battles with the Empire and how little the galaxy has changed since the fall of the Emperor. But despite her doubts, she remains brave, decisive, and intelligent. Leia can be a well-characterized leader, like the end of Infinities version of The Empire Strikes Back story implies, even if she isn’t a Jedi. It's a shame that Episode IX will not be able to explore Leia's role in the story further, as Carrie Fisher passed away unexpectedly in late 2016, but at least we got to see a wonderful tribute worthy of the character before we said a tear-filled goodbye to the great leader from Alderaan. 

    *A version of this article ran on March, 2, 2015. 

    Megan Crouse is a staff writer.

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  • 12/16/17--15:41: Batman #37 Exclusive Preview
  • Batman and Superman go on a double date in Batman #37. Here's an exclusive preview!

    News John Saavedra
    Dec 16, 2017

    Tom King's run on Batman has been a very different kind of animal than what we've seen before. For one thing, King is as interested in the Caped Crusader's domestic life as he is in his heroics. In fact, Bruce has fully accepted the domestic life in recent months. He's engaged to Selina Kyle and happier than he's been in years. (His son Damian ain't too crazy about his new mom, though!)

    While the Bat and the Cat's relationship has been the main focus of King's run of late, he's now turning his attention to Batman's friendship with Superman. In the latest arc, "Superfriends," the heroes' friendship is tested by the things that make them different. Are the Dark Knight and the Man of Tomorrow thinking about splitting up? We'll find out in Batman #37! 

    Here's the synopsis for the issue:

    “SUPERFRIENDS” part two! The stunning conclusion to the two-part story. Torn apart by betrayal, Batman and Superman try to find a way back to friendship, to trust. Both understand that the future of the DCU depends on this relationship; both understand that without the help of the other, their lives will fall apart. And yet, one is still the spoiled rich boy, and the other is still the naive farm boy. Men from two worlds confront each other and try to see the hope behind the madness. 

    You can check out the cover by Mikel Janin, a variant by Mann, and some preview pages below:

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    If you're looking for some answers after watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Expanded Universe is the place to look!

    The Lists Megan Crouse
    Dec 18, 2017

    This Star Wars article contains spoilers.

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi has arrived, and with it come plenty of new mysteries to decipher. In fact, the movie doesn't even answer all of the questions left over from The Force Awakens. That said, some of the answers - such as how Captain Phasma managed to escape Starkiller Base - can be found in the Expanded Universe. 

    Looking for more information about The Last Jedi after seeing the film? Like Rey with her Jedi texts, you can explore the Star Wars Expanded Universe for more clues about Episode VIII with these canon books, comics, and games!

    Canto Bight 

    Finn and Rose’s search for a codebreaker to help the Resistance fleet leads them to the casino city Canto Bight, where weapons dealers gamble at high roller tables. The novella collection Canto Bight introduces some of the aliens seen in The Last Jedi, including the gaunt, wide-faced card player and the three little reptilian aliens at a game table. As it turns out, they’re only lucky when all three are together. 

    The most significant connection, though, is the fathier races and the children who work with them. One of the main characters in “Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing” is a girl who works at the stables, where indentured children under harsh conditions take care of the fathiers and dream of being jockeys. This story is also most closely connected to the epilogue of The Last Jedi, showing how stories of the Jedi bring hope to a Force-sensitive child.

    Leia, Princess of Alderaan

    The young adult novel Leia, Princess of Alderaan fleshes out an important character from The Last Jedi: Leia’s friend, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo. Poe Dameron resists Holdo’s plans and even fights against what he believes are her traitorous actions (in true Rebellion fashion). Readers who know Holdo from the novel can be reassured that her friendship with Leia is the entire crux of this plotline. In the novel, Leia and Holdo work together to find the planet Crait, even while suffering the slow destruction of their fleet. Decades later, Holdo is able to use Crait to the Resistance's advantage, even if Poe doesn’t understand the plan at first. 

    The novel doesn’t talk very much about Leia’s latent Force sensitivity, which she displayed in a big way in The Last Jedi, but it does show how she learned to be resilient and survive in inhospitable places. The novel also reinforces Luke’s arc in The Last Jedi, paralleling both Skywalker twins and showing why Leia jumped into the fight with the Resistance while Luke hid away. Leia learned as a teenager that failure might be part of her journey, since she messed up her father’s plans several times in an effort to help people. Luke, the golden child who moved from a quiet life to the glory and tragedy of his time in the Rebellion, was bruised more deeply by his own failures. Both The Last Jediand Leia, Princess of Alderaan show why Leia is so resilient and how the Original Trilogy heroes cope with failure. 

    Cobalt Squadron 

    Rose Tico is at the heart of The Last Jedi. A brand new character, she’s introduced wth an immediately sympathetic story. Her sister was killed in battle, and while she’s a competent mechanic, she isn’t the type of hotspot pilot character we’ve often seen before. Cobalt Squadron begins by showing Rose and her sister Paige before the events of The Force Awakens, when the Resistance and the First Order are both working undercover. The book explains why Rose and Paige joined the Resistance, as well as the sisters’ similarities and differences. If you liked Rose in The Last Jedi, Cobalt Squadron is a good look at her history.  

    Bomber Command

    This middle grade book focuses on Paige Tico, Rose’s sister, who sacrifices herself during the bombing run in the beginning of The Last Jedi. Including journal entries and starship schematics, it gives an inside look at what Paige’s life was like in the Resistance.


    Although Phasma’s role in The Last Jediis relatively small, she has not been forgotten when it comes to canon tie-in books and comics. The Phasma novel shows Phasma’s origin on the postapocalyptic world of Parnassos, where she and her family lived with their backs to razor-sharp cliffs and an inhospitable ocean. The novel shows that Phasma is just as craven as General Hux, but also how she tries to protect her family. When she has nothing left to lose, she joins the First Order for their promise of technology that can ensure her own survival. 

    The comic answers more direct questions about The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, but the novel shades her fight in The Last Jedi with the memory of Parnassos. Phasma now lives in a starship far more technologically advanced and more powerful than anything she could ever have imagined when she was a child, able to destroy or save entire planets just because of the resources on board. From hardscrabble beginnings, Phasma has risen to the leadership of the First Order — and therefore gets her comeuppance.

    Marvel's Captain Phasma 

    Phasma’s appearance in The Last Jedi might seem surprising if the last time you saw her was when she headed to the trash compactor. The four-issue comic series shows that Phasma escaped the trash compactor easily. Much more difficult was hiding the fact that she lowered Starkiller Base’s shield. She tracks the only witness to her act of treason to the wastelands of Luprora and kills everyone who might expose her — including the TIE pilot she had started to befriend. If you were disappointed with Phasma’s quick surrender in The Force Awakens, the book and comic provide plenty of action that shows what she can do when she’s properly motivated.

    Battlefront II

    While this video game mostly sticks to what happened directly after Return of the Jedi, we do get a brief Luke Skywalker section that sheds light on how the Jedi Knight began his quest for Ahch-To. It's revealed that Luke visited a planet called Pilio after sensing something in the Force coming from the world's surface. The Force was in fact leading him to a secret Imperial vault that contained some of the Emperor's most precious artifacts. Among the trinkets was a sort of compass device, and it's heavily implied that Luke used this gadget to find the first Jedi temple. Read more about this here. 

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    Mortal Engines, a sci-fi epic written by Peter Jackson, has released its first trailer.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Dec 18, 2017

    The 2018 film adaptation of Philip Reeve’s popular teen-aimed apocalyptic novel series Mortal Engines appears to be running on all cylinders. With the legendary visionary of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies Peter Jackson working on the script with his repertory team of (his wife) Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, we know the screenplay is being tackled by a trio who understand what it takes to adapt epic fantasies.

    Here's everything we know so far!

    Mortal Engines Trailer

    The first Mortal Engines trailer has arrived.

    While some people can claim to have been swallowed by London, the post-apocalyptic existence of characters in Mortal Engines must be wary of this fate in the most literal sense, as evidenced by the first trailer. With the world's arid wastelands inhabited by gigantic wheeled roving cities, the inhabitants of scrappy smaller towns, including our prominently-shown protagonist, Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), are the prey for monstrous metropolis London. Indeed, in a scene that's nearly reminiscent of the opening space skirmish of the original Star Wars, a monolithic enemy ship (in this case, London,) chases down and eventually swallows its embattled, exponentially smaller quarry.

    Mortal Engines Latest News

    Peter Jackson is stoking the Mortal Engines fire by taking to Facebook to post a piece of concept art from the upcoming film. The art, presumably depicting protagonist Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar), noticeably carries a Dark Tower vibe in its aesthetic approach as the figure in question gazes upon a post-apocalyptic metropolis in the background that also evokes memories of Minas Tirith from Jackson's The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

    Mortal Engines Cast

    Hera Hilmar headlines Mortal Engines as protagonist Hester Shaw. The actress was notably seen on Starz’s 3-season run of Da Vinci’s Demons, Discovery miniseries Harley and the Davidsons and in films such as The Fifth Estate, Anna Karenina and the March release of The Ottoman Lieutenant, opposite Game of Thrones actor Michiel Huisman (who also starred in the Harley miniseries), which also features Ben Kingsely and Josh Hartnett.

    Robert Sheehan is her co-star, playing Tom Natsworthy. Sheehan has been seen on the just-released second season of Amazon drama Fortitude opposite Dennis Quaid. He’s also appeared in notable projects such as the mystery thriller The Messenger, comedy Moonwalkers opposite Rupert Grint and Ron Perlman and this film’s name-similar Freeform show-spawning box-office bomb counterpart The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.

    Hugo Weaving will play a character named Thaddeus Valentine. Weaving joining the project yields a reunion that should delight fans of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth Sextet, in which he played the mission-making ancient elven Lord of Rivendale Elrond in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and its prequels The Hobbit Trilogy.

    Weaving has also fielded a variety of iconic signature roles in his career outside of Middle Earth, first establishing himself as a household name with his villainous performance as Agent Smith in The Matrix Trilogy, the crimson-faced A-list villain Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger, the masked anarchist vigilante in 2005’s V for Vendetta and was the voice of Decepticon big bad Megatron in director Michael Bay’s Transformers films, amongst an array of other great roles.

    And the Rest...

    Mortal Engines' supporting cast consists of names like Stephen Lang (Avatar and its upcoming sequels) as Chryslar Peavy, Ronan Raftery (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as Bevis Pod, Jihae (Mars) as Anna Fang, Aaron Jackson (Pete’s Dragon) as Gench, Kee Chan (Red Dog: True Blue) as Governor Kwan and Leila George (Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?) as Katherine Valentine.

    Mortal Engines Story

    Beginning with Reeve’s 2001 original novel, continuing with three subsequent sequels, Mortal Engines is set thousands of years in the future in the aftermath of a global catastrophe that left the world decimated on a geological level. To escape the constant threat of earthquakes and volcanoes, which apparently left North America uninhabitable, the city of London was transferred onto a massive wheeled vehicle called a Traction City and resort to roving the world, raiding the waning resources of other cities in a dynamic called “Municipal Darwinism.”

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    Amidst this bleak backdrop, the story of Mortal Engines focuses on two young cast away characters looking to get themselves away from the desolation. The story centers on Hester Shaw (Hilmar), a revenge-seeking drifter who finds common cause with Tom Natsworthy (Sheehan), combining their efforts to find and board the massive predatory vehicle that is London.

    Mortal Engines Crew

    In the director’s chair for Mortal Engines (not“Instruments,”) is Christian Rivers, a longtime acquaintance of the Jackson/Walsh/Boyens power trio, who was part of the visual effects department for many of their films, going back to The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, who worked as a splinter unit director on the last two entries of The Hobbit Trilogy. Rivers recently ran second unit for director David Lowery on 2016’s Pete’s Dragon. Jackson, Walsh and Boyens are credited producers on Mortal Engines along with Amanda Walker, Deborah Forte and Ken Kamins.

    Mortal Engines Release Date

    Mortal Engines has set course for a release date of December 14th, 2018.

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    The Den of Geek Book Club is a place to geek out about our favorite science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.

    NewsKayti Burt
    Dec 18, 2017

    Hello, all!

    We have launched a Den of Geek Book Club as a place to recommend, discuss, and obsess over our favorite fantasy, science fiction, and horror books. Join us in discussing our latest pick...

    December/January Pick: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

    The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty's debut novel, is the start of a rich, imaginative new historical fantasy series. Set in the 18th-century Middle East, The City of Brass follows Nahri, a young woman living in Cairo who gets pulled into a magical world of djinn, and Ali, a young prince living in the djinn city of Daevabad.

    Read our full review of The City of Brass.

    The dual perspective narrative follows both young people as they try to navigate a world of complex political and cultural allegiances where the interpersonal often clashes with the political in ways that threaten to tear them apart.

    Head over to our Den of Geek Book Club page to join in the discussion! And stay tuned for more The City of Brass content throughout the following month, including an interview with author S.A. Chakraborty.

    November/December Pick: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

    Our second book club pick was Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz, a science fiction story of robots, pirates, and identity in the year 2144.

    Autonomous is a gutting tale that follows robot Paladin and drug pirate Jack as they fight for identity, autonomy, love, and freedom in a world where people can be owned and big pharmaceutical companies have immense power. (There, um, may be some parallels to our own world...)

    Read our full review of Autonomous by Annalee Newitz.

    Want to take part in the discussion? Head over to the Den of Geek Book Club on Goodreads to see what kind of discussion happened around the book, and feel free to join in. Or listen to our podcast interview with Annalee Newitz.

    Buy Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

    October/November Pick: The Name of the Wind

    Our first Den of Geek Book Club book was The Name of the Wind, the first book in Patrick Rothfuss'Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy.

    I know, I know. This book came out a long time ago. However, it just celebrated its 10th anniversary, complete with a gorgeous 10th anniversary edition from DAW. It will soon be turned into a movie and TV show, with musical producer support from Kingkiller Chronicle superfan Lin-Manuel Miranda.

    Read our interview with the artists behind The Name of the Wind's 10th Anniversary Edition.

    In other words, whether this is your first time reading or your 15th, it's a great time to discuss this modern fantasy classic! Head over to our Goodreads Book Club page to see what kind of discussion happened around The Name of the Wind, and to add your own thoughts on this modern fantasy classic.

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    Calling all Dresden Files fans! Jim Butcher is expanding the world of your favorite Chicagoan wizard...

    NewsKayti Burt
    Dec 18, 2017

    Here at Den of Geek, we love our Dresden Files. The long-running book series by Jim Butcher is an urban fantasy stalwart, defined by a world and characters that have become old friends over the more than 15-year history of the series about the Chicago wizard.

    Butcher continues to build on the world of the Dresden Files in creative and rewarding ways and, in June, Ace is publishing a collection of short stories set in the world of the Dresden Files series, including a brand new novella in which "Harry treads new ground as a dad."

    The collection will serve as a companion piece to the best-selling Side Jobs. It will include both previously-published work, as well as a brand new story, and represents the first Dresden Files book published since 2014's Skin Game.

    Den of Geek was lucky enough to snag an exclusive reveal of the Brief Cases cover art. We may have to wait until June 5th to get a copy of this book, but we can revel in this for a while...

    Here's the official synopsis for Brief Cases...

    The world of Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, is rife with intrigue–and creatures of all supernatural stripes. And you'll make their intimate acquaintance as Harry delves into the dark side of truth, justice, and the American way in this must-have short story collection.

    From the Wild West to the bleachers at Wrigley Field, humans, zombies, incubi, and even fey royalty appear; ready to blur the line between friend and foe. In the never-before-published 'Zoo Day,' Harry treads new ground as a dad, while fan-favorite characters Molly Carpenter, his onetime apprentice, White Council Warden Anastasia Luccio, and even Bigfoot stalk through the pages of more classic tales.

    With twelve stories in all, Brief Cases offers both longtime fans and first-time readers tantalizing glimpses into Harry’s funny, gritty, and unforgettable realm, whetting their appetites for more to come from the wizard with a heart of gold.

    Previously-published stories in Brief Cases include: "Curses," from The Naked City; "AAAA Wizardry," from the Dresden Files RPG;  "Even Hand," from Dark and Stormy Knights; "B is for Bigfoot," from Under My Hat: Tales From the Cauldron; "I was a Teenage Bigfoot," from Blood Lite 3: Aftertaste; "Bigfoot on Campus," from Hex Appeal; "Bombshells," from Dangerous Women, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois; "Jury Duty," from Unbound"Cold Case," from Shadowed Souls; "Day One," from Unfettered II; and "A Fistful of Warlocks," from Straight Outta Tombstone.

    Brief Cases will also include "Zoo Day," a brand-new novella, original to this collection.

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    The legendary new wave act jams with comicdom's greatest rockers early next year when Blondie meets The Archies!

    News Chris Cummins
    Dec 18, 2017

    Insert Jughead/Eat to the Beat joke here.

    In case you aren't reading it (related, what's wrong with you?) Alex Segura and Joe Eisma's The Archies is the stuff that rock and roll comic book dreams are made of. Since debuting in a one-shot try out earlier this year, Riverdale's best band -- with apologies to Josie and the Pussycats, The Madhouse Glads, and The Bingoes -- have embarked on a musical career that has already had them encountering Chvrches. (Teagan & Sara and The Monkees will be featured in upcoming issues). As rad as these comic cameos are, none excite me as much as the just-announced appearance of Blondie in The Archies' sixth issue.

    Due to be released in March, this issue will have Blondie meet up with The Archies as the upstart act continues their journey for stardom. Or, at the very least, indie cred. Exact story details are scarce as of this writing, but given the grounded in reality nature of the book, don't expect time travel to be involved a la another meet-up with NYC legends, last year's great Archie Meets Ramones one-shot.

    Writer Alex Segura, who also penned the Archie Meets Kiss mini-series, has repeatedly proven in his work for the company that he has both impressive musical knowledge and great taste. Just check out any of the end-of-issue playlists in The Archies for proof of this. Even without info about how both bands will interact, you can expect it to be awesome.

    Also, Archie is probably gonna hit on Debbie Harry. Right?

    Here's a look at the issue's three covers:

    Main cover by Greg Smallwood.

    Variant cover by Archie superstar Dan Parent.

    Variant cover by Matt Taylor.

    Will this tie-in be "Rapture" for readers? "One Way or Another"  (sorry) we will find out when the book hits stores on March 28th.  Whether or not Archie Comics completes the holy trinity of CBGB's by having our heroes jamming with Talking Heads remains to be seen however...

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    A TV adaptation of Garth Ennis’s violent comic book series The Boys, run by Supernatural’s Eric Kripke, has been ordered by Amazon.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Dec 18, 2017

    UPDATE: Erin Moriarty (Jessica Jones, True Detective) is staying in the world of comics, joining Amazon's straight-to-series adaptation of Garth Ennis'The Boys

    In The Boys, Moriarty will appear as Starlight, also known as Annie, a young woman with superhero powers who can make lightning bolts flash from her eyes. She aspires to be a famous superhero just like the famous Seven, the titular Boys.

    We'll update this story further as more actors join the project. 

    ORIGINAL STORY: Amazon’s small screen streaming lineup is set to add a live-action adaptation of Garth Ennis’s notoriously dark and violent comic book, The Boys. The television project, which has been in development on and off for several years, has finally received its long-awaited greenlight, auspiciously arriving as the creation of Supernatural and Timeless visionary Eric Kripke.

    The Boys has just achieved straight-to-series status, having received an eight-episode order from Amazon, reports Deadline. With Eric Kripke serving as showrunner/executive producer for this TV adaptation of the 2006-2012 comic book series created by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, The Boys will launch with a duo of directors who are well-versed in adapting Ennis’s comic book work in Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who are credited as co-creators (with Sam Catlin,) of AMC’s Preacher series. The project will be under the purview of Sony Pictures TV Studios, which is co-producing with Amazon, along with Original Films.

    The story of The Boys depicts a bleak world filled with power-imbued superheroes who have become reckless, selfish and hedonistic, leaving citizens in danger. Thus, an angry, ultra-violent Englishman called Billy Butcher puts together his own team of ex-military personnel with black ops experience to watch the proverbial watchmen, calling themselves, you guessed it, the Boys. Consequently, in an extreme version of the Marvel Civil War scenario, Billy Butcher and the Boys run roughshod on the world’s corrupt costumed heroes in a bountifully brutal, nay, sadistic manner. Indeed, the series launched in 2006 under the DC-connected Wildstorm imprint, only to be quickly cancelled, purportedly due to its anti-superhero themes. Ennis would eventually continue the series with indie publisher Dynamite Entertainment, publishing the last series in the end of 2012.  

    Interestingly, The Boys could prove to be a bellwether project for Amazon, which has recently made a major push to embrace genre television, which is notably evident by the recent move of luring Stranger Things writer Justin Doble away from the Netflix pop culture sensation for an expansive deal to develop new TV projects. Indeed, Amazon’s newly-appointed Head of Scripted Series, Sharon Tal Yguado, is making the mission quite clear, declaring:

    “In a landscape saturated with superhero shows, The Boys is the next evolution in this popular genre. With Eric, Evan, Seth and Original Film all behind this series, we are excited to adapt this popular comic, from the visionary minds of Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, for television.”

    The Amazon deal represents the culmination of a long process of false starts and stops to bring The Boys into live-action form. A movie adaptation was in the works back in 2010, with Anchorman and The Big Short director Adam McKay eyed to direct. Years later, in April 2016, the team of Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Neal Moritz were close to a deal to bring the TV adaptation to Cinemax. Now, The Boys is set to arrive on a platform in Amazon that will allow it to manifest, unbridled, in a gory and ribald form that will stand as a true testament to the comic book.

    We will keep you updated on the major developments of Amazon’s The Boys as they occur.

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    Amazon’s ambitious Lord of the Rings TV series could see Ian McKellen’s return as Gandalf – if he’s asked, anyway.

    News Joseph Baxter
    Dec 19, 2017

    The idea of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth mythology being revived as an Amazon television series is enough to get any fan of the books and Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies excited. However, Sir Ian McKellen just provided what may be the icing on that cake with hints that his legendary onscreen role as wizard Gandalf may continue in some capacity on said series.

    In a recent BBC radio interview with Graham Norton, McKellen was asked about the possibility of being replaced in his iconic role; an understandable query, seeing as the legendary knighted actor is 78 years old. However, the question, posed as speculation about “there being another Gandalf in town,” was answered in intriguing fashion. Answered McKellen:

    “What do you mean another Gandalf?” Adding, “I haven’t said yes because I haven’t been asked, but are you suggesting someone else is going to play it? Who would be suitable?”

    Of course, McKellen is also known as a cheeky fellow and was likely speaking in a comedic context appropriate to host Graham Norton. However, the notion of McKellen reprising the role, presumably around the 80-year-old mark, is not as unrealistic as one may think, considering the nature of the character. As McKellen reminds us:

    “Gandalf is over 7,000 years old, so I’m not too old.”

    Indeed, McKellen was not being facetious with that comment. Gandalf may carry the corporeal façade of an elderly, grey-bearded beggar, but he – like the other wizards (or Istari) of Middle Earth – is a celestial spirit called a Maiar (akin to a mid-level angel), sent to Middle Earth from the Undying Lands in the beginning of the Third Age to aid its peoples against the surging threat of Sauron (also once a Maiar,) and the Ring of Power, always in the form of a sagely elder.

    Consequently, that leaves plenty of possibilities for Gandalf – specifically McKellen’s version – to return on the Amazon series, notably with a storyline depicting the arrival of the five wizards (Saruman the White, Gandalf the Grey, Radagast the Brown and Blue Wizards Alatar and Pallando,) on Middle Earth.

    When considering the fact that Amazon’s $250 million deal to acquire the rights to the Tolkien property involves a multi-season commitment with the era-spanning nature of the author’s Middle Earth stories outside of the The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings novels, notably in chronicle The Silmarillion, it suggests an anthological nature to the series; something that makes the idea of McKellen’s return as Gandalf for one specific iteration of the series into something that’s a lot more than feasible.

    Of course, Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings series (for lack of a more accurate title,) is still in its earliest of planning stages. As for McKellen, his backlog is dominated by an upcoming modernized version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, titled Hamlet Revenant, a film in which he will appear opposite Gabriel Byrne and Connie Nielsen, with Danish actor Mikkel Boe Følsgaard playing the titular revenge-plotting prince.

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    As the Star Wars fandom becomes divided over The Last Jedi, we explore the power of pop culture as religion - the light side and the dark.

    Feature John Saavedra
    Dec 19, 2017

    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.

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    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.

    John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek. Find more of his work on his website. Or just follow him on Twitter.

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    The veteran comic creator took to Facebook to announce that he's parting ways with Marvel Comics.

    News Nick Harley
    Dec 19, 2017

    Thanos creator Jim Starlin must be happy with Marvel Studios now that his villainous creation is finally getting his due on-screen, but he’s certainly not thrilled with Marvel Comics. Starlin has alluded to yet another falling out with comics publisher, taking to Facebook to slam Marvel Editorial executive editor Tom Brevoort for stealing the thunder away from his upcoming graphic novel Thanos: The Infinity Siblings.

    In his post, Starlin wrote, “What I objected to and what will be keep me from doing any further work for Marvel Editorial was Tom Brevoort approving a plot for the current on-going [Thanos] series, which was pretty much the same as the Thanos story arc in the graphic novel trilogy Alan Davis and I have been working on for Tom for close to the past year. He had 200 pages of script and 100 pages of pencils on this project when he gave the green light to a strikingly similar plot. The on-going will be in print before the graphic novel trilogy. To avoid spoiling anyone's enjoyment of these two stories I will not be summarizing the striking similarities.”

    He continued, “At first Tom denied giving his approval to the plot. When that turned out to be false, he switched to claiming there was nothing similar about the two plots. When that didn’t fly he changed his story to it was all an accident. These changes of excuse and other bits of procrastination ate up a month, by which time the current Thanos on-going art team was too far along for anything to be done about the situation. Too bad for me. So I am moving on.”

    Starlin claims that his requests to work on a monthly Thanos book or a tie-in promotional series were quickly struck down, but then went on to speak highly of Marvel’s film division. That last piece of information is surprising, given that the veteran creator went to war with Marvel in 2012, at the time of the first Avengers film that revealed Thanos in a post-credit sequence, complaining about not being financially compensated by Marvel. Starlin then went on to publicly claim that he made more money from Warner Bros’ Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice than from all the Marvel Studios projects combined.

    With this bad blood, the February release of Thanos: The Infinity Siblings, and the future of the planned trilogy, may be in jeopardy. 

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    The first ever Power Rangers event comic will add an exciting angle involving obscure Power Rangers characters.

    NewsShamus Kelley
    Dec 20, 2017

    Not only are the Power Rangers comics about to unleash a huge event with Power Rangers: Shattered Grid (running through Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Go Go Power Rangers) but they're going to give it another chapter on Free Comic Book Day.

    In May 2018 BOOM! Studios and Saban Brands will unleash a free comic that ties into the ongoing event. See below for the press release and we'll explain just why it's a big deal.

    BOOM! Studios and Saban Brands announce the MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS 2018 FREE COMIC BOOK DAY SPECIAL.  Arriving in comic shops worldwide on Free Comic Book Day (May 5th, 2018), this FREE comic is a tie-in to the hotly anticipated POWER RANGERS: SHATTERED GRID comic book event and features the story of how Zordon turns to the Morphin Masters for help in the Power Rangers’ darkest hour as the Rangers battle Lord Drakkon—an evil version of Tommy, the Green Ranger, from an alternate reality. The issue will be written by Kyle Higgins (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and Ryan Parrott (Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers) and illustrated by Diego Galindo (Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Dog Men). 

    Morphin Masters? Okay, if you aren't the most hardcore of Power Rangers fans you might not recall what the hell the Morphin Masters are. Basically, there was an early MMPR episode where Zordon casually name dropped the Morphin Masters in relation to the Power Eggs in the episode "Big Sisters". The kind of throwaway line MMPR was known for but for years fans have speculated what the hell the Morphin Masters were. Well knowing how insane the Power Rangers comics can get with continuity we're excited to see their take on it.

    Check out the cover of the comic (which sadly doesn't feature any Morphin Masters.)

    Shamus Kelley can not get over the inclusion of the Morphin Masters! Follow him on Twitter!

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  • 12/20/17--11:43: Watchmen HBO Series Updates
  • There's a pilot order (and more) in the books for the HBO Watchmen TV series.

    News Mike Cecchini
    Dec 20, 2017

    With The Leftovers having wrapped its final season to wild critical acclaim, Damon Lindelof is sticking around HBO to develop a Watchmen TV series. Yes, you read that right. Watchmen is finally getting the prestige cable drama that fans have wanted for as long as prestige cable drama has been a thing. HBO has not only placed a pilot order for the series, but ordered "back up scripts" as well for more episodes. In other words, it's all but certain this thing is getting picked up.

    Lindelof's vision is apparently unrelated to a Watchmen series discussed by Zack Snyder (who directed the film version) and HBO back in 2015. It's not clear how far those particular talks got, or what the actual plan for it was. After all, with Snyder involved, it seems unlikely it would have been a re-adaptation of the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons graphic novel. According to Variety, the Lindelof version is "starting over from scratch" and has nothing to do with those previous discussions.

    The big question, then, is just what will this new series be? Is it another adaptation of the graphic novel? Zack Snyder's 2009 adaptation has its defenders, and visually it's certainly faithful enough to the comics, but it was admittedly limited by the constraints of a movie runtime. A TV series could spend more time exploring the flashbacks to the Minutemen era, or fleshing out some of the supplementary text material that happens in between the comic chapters.

    But recent quotes from Damon Lindelof would seem to indicate that this might be a brand new adaptation of Watchmen, rather than a prequel or some other expansion of the world. "That comic was written in the mid '80s, [but it's] more timely now," he told a crowd at Vulture Fest (via THR). "These are dangerous times...and we need dangerous shows." 

    That Hashtag Show, who are often on point with their TV scoops, claim that Watchmen is scheduled to begin production in March of 2018. Meanwhile, a post from Damon Lindelof would seem to indicate that he's still writing the pilot. It's possible they could still shoot a pilot on March, but this looks like a tight deadline. HBO had no comment on any of this when I reached out to them,

    In 2013, DC Comics released a series of Watchmen prequels, appropriately titled Before Watchmen, from an assortment of creators not named Moore or Gibbons. They were met with what can charitably be described as a mixed response from fans and critics. Nevertheless, there's plenty of existing material to fuel a Watchmen series for several seasons. Then again, Lindelof and friends might not have to delve into the spinoffs to flesh out an adaptaion of the graphic novel. There's enough going on in any one of the original's twelve chapters to fuel multiple episodes. Meanwhile, DC Comics just launched the first official sequel to Watchmen with Doomsday Clock.

    Watch the Watchmen movie on Amazon

    Watchmen writer Alan Moore has been notoriously outspoken about his disapproval for all adaptations and spinoffs, and that's unlikely to change here. Lindelof added that they're "trying to find a way to do it that honors [Alan Moore]" although they're under no illusions about what Moore's feelings on it would be. But for the rest of us, the chance to see this series given another chance at the screen, perhaps one that's a little less stylized than the movie version, is certainly appealing. There have also been rumblings of an R-rated animated movie, but that seems less likely with the HBO series in the works.

    We'll update this with new information as we get it.

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