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- 01/30/18--09:36: _Transmetropolitan: ...
- 01/30/18--10:07: _Lex Luthor and the ...
- 01/30/18--11:22: _How Motherlands Mix...
- 01/30/18--13:24: _The Midnight Front ...
- 01/30/18--20:16: _Watchmen HBO Series...
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- 02/01/18--16:56: _Syfy George R.R. Ma...
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- 02/01/18--18:51: _Rod Serling’s Origi...
- 02/02/18--14:04: _Outcast Season 2 Tr...
- 01/25/18--11:45: _43 Canceled Star Wa...
- 02/05/18--05:16: _The Best Batmobiles...
- 02/05/18--20:11: _What Christopher Re...
- 01/30/18--09:36: Transmetropolitan: Relevant or Rose-Colored Glasses?
- 01/30/18--10:07: Lex Luthor and the Three Times He Was Elected US President
- 01/30/18--11:22: How Motherlands Mixes Family and Superstring Theory
- 01/30/18--13:24: The Midnight Front by David Mack Review
- 01/30/18--20:16: Watchmen HBO Series Finds Director
- 01/31/18--15:24: Fantastic Beasts 2 Will Not Depict Dumbledore as Explicitly Gay
- 01/31/18--16:30: Black Panther Breaks Batman v Superman's Record
- 01/31/18--20:12: Chris Pratt’s Cowboy Ninja Viking Gets Michelle MacLaren as Director
- 02/01/18--11:22: Superman Comic Reboot Announced with Brian Michael Bendis
- 02/01/18--14:58: Back to the Future Manga Will Expand on the Movie
- 02/01/18--15:25: Captain America Gets New Shield in Avengers: Infinity War
- 02/01/18--15:34: Den of Geek Book Club Podcast #2: Nnedi Okorafor on Binti
- 02/01/18--16:01: Joker Isn't Invited to Batman's Wedding in DC Nation #0
- 02/01/18--16:56: Syfy George R.R. Martin Series Nightflyers Reveals More Cast
- 02/01/18--17:01: Frankenstein Adaptations Are Almost Never Frankenstein Adaptations
- 02/02/18--14:04: Outcast Season 2 Trailer Teases U.S. Release
- 01/25/18--11:45: 43 Canceled Star Wars Projects
- 02/05/18--05:16: The Best Batmobiles Ever
- 02/05/18--20:11: What Christopher Reeve Would Look Like in the DCEU Superman Suit
Holy mother of God, Transmet is over 20 years old. But is it still sharp commentary, or a relic of its time?
It’s become somewhat fashionable, now that we’re actually living in a cyberpunk dystopia, to compare current events to Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan. And to be honest, it’s been a while since I took a look at the book, a comic that changed how I felt about so many things (journalism, cursing) the first time I read it.
It felt like a good time for a reread. I felt I could take some time and a fresh eye and look at the story for those similarities, to see if the regular, periodic comparisons were accurate or if they were just nerd hyperbole. I was impressed at how quick a read it was: the story wasn’t lacking depth, but it was visually concise and told everything the reader needed to know through snappy dialogue, rather than narrative infodumps. With that in mind, I think that some of the comparisons are reasonable (bone-chilling and terrifying and reasonable at the same time), but for the most part, it’s not a direct transposition to current events.
The real world is so much worse.
For those of you who haven’t read it, Transmetropolitanwas a series written by Ellis, pencilled by Robertson and inked by Rodney Ramos. It was published by Vertigo from 1997-2002. It followed Spider Jerusalem, a Hunter S. Thompson-if-he-was-British analogue, as he returns to a fictitious cyberpunk City from self-imposed exile, and brings down two Presidential administrations by preaching truth and creative filth to his enthralled audience.
It’s very much a product of its time. It starts out being very much a “pox on both your houses” condemnation of the U.S. political system as a whole, back when that still made sense to do. And it quickly shifted to concerns about civil liberties at a time when the United States (and NATO allies) were waging war without Congressional approval (during the two month bombing campaign of Kosovo); laying the philosophical foundation for an invasion of Iraq in attacking Saddam Hussein’s (in hindsight fictional) nuclear ambitions; the contested mess that the 2000 election turned out to be; and 9/11 and the march to the global, ongoing, perpetual war on terror (and rollbacks in civil liberties) that followed.
It’s a fantastic comic that holds up well as a story for a number of reasons. It’s cyberpunk without the genre’s trademark dinge: Robertson, Ramos, and colorist Nathan Eyring deserve a lot of credit for making a future packed with information overload, but not obscured by smog or gloom or perpetual rain. It’s also genuinely funny. Angry Warren Ellis is gifted at turning the combination of rage, foul language, and body parts into something beautiful. It’s also appropriately cynical, and I think this is where a lot of the comparisons to the present day come from.
No regular character save Jerusalem himself is particularly idealized, though there are generally bright lines between “good guys” and “bad guys.” And even still, Jerusalem takes a beating. He’s monomaniacal, driving people out of his life because of his dedication to his work, and he’s understood to have been an oblivious, insensitive dipshit who has ruined more than a few bystanders lives prior to where the comic picks up. No institution (save one - we'll get there) is sacred, either: government officials, the police, TV, and democracy itself all catch hell throughout the series. Jerusalem’s unflinching, skeptical eye amplifies the stories of the voiceless at the expense of a self-serving political establishment that will do anything, including regularly murder, to retain power.
That’s where the problems show up.
The only place where Spider (and through him, Ellis) pulls his punches is on the media. There is an acknowledgement that the corporate media is a problem, that the concept of profits before absolute truth inevitably slants coverage. But it’s cursory, and the media is redeemed (or as redeemed as one can get in this comic) by the end when they’re disobeying censorship orders from the Smiler in order to broadcast footage of riots he caused in The City and getting the ball rolling on his inevitable downfall. The media comes through as admirable, pushing through their compromised status because they still cling to the ideals of Truth.
And that’s really the biggest problem with comparing Transmetropolitanwith our current situation. Ellis and company operated in a world where Truth was still a thing one could capitalize, some ideal that society collectively agreed on because of piddly shit like visual evidence or scientific consensus. They had no reckoning with a world where the Oxford Dictionary would name “post-truth” their word of the year. They still believed that associating with white supremacists, as Callahan did to win the nomination in the comic, would be something that, once properly exposed, could damage one’s political status, rather than cause an army of professional dissemblers and bullshit artists to head to the 24-hour news networks to haggle over the definition of “white,” “supremacist,” and whether or not the accused white supremacist really meant his white supremacy, or was just being outrageous for clicks.
If Transmetropolitanreally were a close analogue to today’s situation, instead of Callahan being brought low by a maniac journalist with the work ethic of fourteen New England Protestants and the drug habits of fourteen Keiths Richards, the Smiler would have killed someone himself, on camera, only to have video of the killing disputed by reprehensible hacks paid by both the 24-hour news network they were on and by the Smiler’s campaign. The same video would be deprioritized by the algorithms of social media networks that value “engagement” over “accuracy” in favor of ten neat tricks to make your feet less unsightly. Then an army of conspiracy theorists and Macedonian shitposters would have created a horde of bots to peddle stories about the Beast ACTUALLY committing treason. A lunatic with a semi-popular web site who thinks fluoride makes your teeth visible to police night vision and that school shootings are false flag hoaxes would have dedicated an entire day to wondering if the Beast was the one who actually killed this individual, and at the end of the day, the Smiler himself would get on his feed account and parrot the same bullshit idiocy.
And when all was said and done, the Smiler would still be sitting in the White House jacking off into a flag and selectively editing the Constitution.
After this election, the idea of a journalist printing something so true, so raw that it changes the course of a political campaign, or a policy rollout, or even the day to day life of someone in power, seems downright pollyannaish.
DC Comics villain Lex Luthor has, on three occasions, become President of the United States. Here's what happened...
Lex Luthor is a man of many talents in the world of DC Comics. He possesses a genius level IQ, is a successful businessman and inventor, exuding charisma from every pore. All of those assets are extremely important when it comes to politics, and that world has provided him with some of his biggest accomplishments.
The power-crazed criminal mastermind has been elected President of the United States multiple times in various stories, but who would vote for a known super-villain? Ahem.
Anyway, with this in mind, let’s explore three different Luthor presidencies and analyze whether he was fit for the job or not.
Perhaps the biggest story to involve Luthor as President was the one that took place in DC Comics shortly after the turn of the century. The megalomaniac billionaire turned to politics after his popularity grew following the restoration of Gotham City. The hometown of Batman had been cast adrift from the rest of the United States when struck by a devastating earthquake in the No Man’s Landarc.
The previous administration had handled the disaster poorly and Luthor’s financial intervention exposed the failings of his predecessors. This, along with the promise of major technological advancements and a ban on fossil fuels, helped him slide into the Oval Office with barely any opposition.
Despite initially refusing to overthrow Luthor by force, Batman and Superman eventually teamed up to bring down the President. Although the duo was faced with an army of villains and converted heroes, it was Luthor who proved instrumental in his own downfall. Whilst secretly being recorded by Batman, he admitted to trading weapons with the alien despot Darkseid in order to defeat another invading alien, Imperiex.
Batman, whose alter ego Bruce Wayne had been framed for murder by the Luthor administration, made this confession public. In a further act of vengeance, Luthor learned that his business empire had been sold to Wayne right from under his nose. Disgraced and bankrupt, Luthor was forced to step down as President, serving less than three years in the White House, a period that was rife with corruption and deception. Ah, escapism...
Justice League: A Better World
The Justice Leagueanimated series had many great storylines during its five seasons and this two-part episode is one of the best. It only gives us the briefest glimpse of President Luthor but the ramifications of his actions are unthinkable.
At the start of the first episode we see Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman storming the White House. Within the Oval Office, Luthor is rummaging through papers, muttering to himself about “a grand design for the world” and how the public failed to appreciate his vision for the future.
With Luthor’s finger on the nuclear weapons launch, Superman bursts in only to learn a shocking truth from his arch-nemesis. By allowing Luthor to be elected President and impose his politics upon society, Superman has been his greatest accomplice. If Luthor is never truly punished for his crimes, like murdering The Flash, Superman and the Justice League can never truly win their struggle.
In that moment Superman abandons all of his heroic intentions and disintegrates Luthor, putting to an end his schemes once and for all. This shocking turn of events sees the entire Justice League resort to the tactics of a police state, keeping the entire human race under heavy surveillance, effectively eradicating all crime, ruthlessly using their special powers.
Of course, this isn’t the regular Justice League, but an alternate version from another universe, known as the Justice Lords. The loss of The Flash, combined with Luthor’s rise to power, was too much for the heroes of this world to take and resulted in them mirroring the callous methods of their enemy. Although he didn’t defeat the Justice Lords, Luthor did succeed in perverting their goodwill beyond all recognition.
Superman: Red Son
What if, as a child, Superman hadn’t have landed in Smallville, Kansas but 1930s Ukraine instead? What if the Man of Steel had adopted the ideals of communism and became the all-powerful leader of the Soviet Union, whose expansion grew to consume most of the world? What if the President of the United States, Lex Luthor, was the only man who dared to stand up to him?
Mark Millar’s Red Son is a fascinating take on the cold war melding the goodwill of Superman with the totalitarianism of Stalin. Once again Luthor proves to be the polar opposite, embracing capitalism and standing as the leader of one of only two nations not to fall to Superman’s iron grip.
Their growing rivalry escalates to the point of global war but there remains an air of mutual respect between the pair. Both men have good hearts but they can never truly co-exist on the same planet. Luthor is not strong enough to fight Superman, but Superman is not intelligent enough to debate with Luthor. Eventually, Superman sees the error of his ways and sacrifices himself to prevent the world from annihilation at the hands of Brainiac, thus conceding his power to Luthor.
With no opposition to him, Luthor achieves global domination, but this isn’t a bleak dystopia. Earth and the known universe prosper under Luthor’s reign. Disease, illness and even sleep are rendered obsolete. Governments are dissolved and replaced by a one-world parliament of writers, artists, scientists and philosophers. Life expectancy is increased to an astonishing 800 years. Humanity eventually becomes the most advanced species in history.
Red Son suggests that both Superman and Luthor could change the world significantly if one wasn’t in the way of the other. There is no doubt that this incarnation of President Luthor is the most hopeful and ambitious. His genius solves all of humanities problems but he can only do this once his Superman obsession has concluded.
Was Luthor a good President?
These three stories provided audiences with three differing takes on President Luthor, but they are all defined by his desire to eliminate Superman. In only one of these instances does he succeed, but even in that case it is Superman who truly wins, as he realizes his absence will be for the greater good. Unfortunately this is why Luthor can never truly be a good President. He is too consumed by his hatred of Superman, and any politician who has that much hatred and contempt in their heart should never thrive in such a position.
Vertigo's Motherlands takes mother-daughter conflict to infinite worlds.
Motherlandshas a pitch that is so Simon Spurrier that you can recognize him in it immediately: a bounty hunting woman teams up with her mother to hunt the multiverse for one big score. Family drama ensues.
Spurrier, the writer behind X-Men: Legacy, Angelic,The Spireand Six-Gun Gorilla,has a knack for mixing weird science and touching emotion. His art partner on Motherlands, Rachael Stott, is no stranger to weird, far-flung sci-fi, having drawn the past two years of Doctor Whocomics and Star Trek/Planet of the Apes. The new series hits shelves on January 31st, and we had a chance to chat with Spurrier and Stott about the new book: where it comes from, where it's going, and what you'll be excited about.
Den of Geek: Si, what comes first when you’re writing, the ridiculous and inventive high concept, or the quiet, emotional, human moment?
Simon Spurrier: It varies from project to project, honestly. Generally speaking, I don’t “get” ideas, in the bolt-from-the-blue sense, so much as grow them or accrete them from a formless mass of interests, themes and moments.
With Motherlands, the inception was a little more precise, in that I started with a killer idea for a twist then let my brain go for a wander to see how it might work in context. I quickly realized I was unconsciously trying to do something sly: telling a poignant story about a strained parent/child relationship but disguising it as my favorite sort of insane, anything-goes Eurocentric sci-fi. The two halves of that equation are quite neatly balanced within the idea that kicked it all off, which - I’m proud to say - bridges theme, character and setting. But, alas, I can’t say much about it, because it really is a doozy of a twist.
In the meantime, I’ve done my usual trick - it’s a joy, honestly - in creating a functional (or possibly dysfunctional) world for the story to occupy, which we then drop into a position of secondary importance behind all the characterful, plotty, shooting-people-in-the-face-with-a-fucking-enormous-lasergun stuff that really matters.
Short version: building worlds is easy; doing so then being casual enough about it to instead concentrate on the other stuff - that’s the real trick.
Tell me a little about the multiverse that Motherlands inhabits.
Spurrier: Well, we’re taking a bit of a refreshing approach to the Many Worlds theory. Rather than an endless parade of boring alternate realities where - I don’t know - the Roman Empire never fell, or the Vikings founded America, or blah blah blah, instead we’re being a bit more holistic. If there are infinite earths then the vast majority of them will have deviated from our own in massive ways, over the course of 4.5 billion years. Airless rocks, irradiated wastelands, meteor-pummeled hells. Even the ones with life are likely to be unrecognizably alien, and quite probably uninhabitable.
So, let’s say someone’s invented a gadget to allow trans-dimensional travel. (They’re called “puncturers”, in our world, and pretty much everyone’s got one.) The smart approach to jumping parallels (“strings”, as we call them) would be that you can only safely visit those other worlds where something akin to human life has evolved. And since the only way to detect that is to look for something with a vaguely recognizable brain pattern, psychic technology is the mainstay of the network. In other words, Motherlands takes place in this wonderful web of insanely variable realities, linked together by trans-dimensional telepathy. It’s officially called “the trawl” -- but unofficially known as The Clusterfuck.
That less-than-generous label is due to one of the other obvious upshots of an infinite number of alt cultures all getting together to share ideas. See, no two versions of humanity are quite alike. We’ve had several million years for the Homo genus to deviate, after all. So not only do alt humans all look very different to us, but each world has developed its own primary forms of technology. Electrical, nuclear, clockwork, fungal, biomechanical, amoebic, psychic, no two societies are the same.
Thirty years after all these worlds started linking up, now the Trawl is in a state of chaos. Unregulated rogue scientists and techno-anarchist terrorists are running amok, hiding out on frontier strings, hybridizing technologies that were never meant to co-exist. As one guy in Issue #1 puts it, you just can’t trust folks to play nice in an infinite sandpit.
The main upshot, for our story, is that we’ve got a billion different worlds with a billion different local police jurisdictions, and it’s super easy for fugitives to just jump from one to the next. So, the trawl has created “the Retrievers”: an agency of bounty hunters (“professional bastards”) to plug the gaps.
Both our main characters are retrievers. The difference being that Selena was the best and most famous of them all, 30 years ago when it was a glamorous career with cameras following every hunt, while her daughter Tab is a cold and pragmatic professional in a world where nobody gives a fuck.
Their relationship - both in the present and the past - is what forms the core of our tale.
How much are the two of you working with Felipe [Sobreiro, colorist on Motherlands] and Simon [Bowland, letterer] on the design of the overall book? The shifting color palette for each universe and clipped word balloons as the characters jump between worlds are little touches, but they are wonderful additions to the storytelling flow.
Spurrier: We picked these guys specifically for their brilliance and “rightness” for this gig, basically - they take great direction, but then always go a step further and make the book greater than the sum of its parts. That also goes for Eric Canete with his mind-blowing covers, and Emma Price with her peerless logos and cover treatments. It’s one hell of an orchestra, honestly, and Vertigo’s Andy [Khouri] and Amedeo [Turturro] are up there like a couple of feverish geniuses on the podium with their editorial conductors’ batons.
Rachael: Designing the worlds - do you get direction on the hook of each parallel universe, do you come up with it before, or do you just wing the background stuff
Rachael Stott: Si's scripts are fabulous because what he does is establish the world to you in amazing detail, without it being a strict 'panel description'. Like he's just showing you around the place, like your tour guide with loads of local knowledge and a great vocabulary. For example he'll describe the local population, their clothes, what they are drinking, what are their shoes made of and so on, so as you're reading it you get an incredibly powerful sense of the environment, but the actual visual depiction is down to you- so like an artist's dream situation really.
What’s the most exciting thing coming up in issue 2 for each of you?
Spurrier: I mean, I should probably say it’s the amazing emotional beats, or Selena’s signature creative cursing, or the clever trick our girls play using nothing but a teaspoon, or the big fight at the end… but honestly? The guy with a hundred dongs is pretty hard to beat.
Stott: Can't speak for issue 2, but in 3 Si requested 'The most glorious DPS you've ever seen' and I've definitely given it the old college try.
This is a miniseries, but it’s got a pretty expansive world around it. Is Motherlands something you both might come back to after the initial story is finished?
Stott: I'm so used to working on ongoing properties that I sort of keep forgetting it's only a limited series- but that's the problem- you sort of fall in love with the characters because Si writes them so relatable, and realistic, and so the idea that I might never see them again after the end is really sad. You draw anyone's nose 400 times and you're bound to get attached. So hopefully we can revisit them in the future. I think I could draw a hundred issues of Tab and Selena driving each other crazy and not get bored.
Spurrier: Never say never, but a story needs an ending or it’s not worth telling. It’s kind of like I hinted above: you can always tell if a creator is more in love with the world than the story -- usually because it’s a fucking tedious book to read. If we continued with, or came back to Motherlands, it would have to be because we had new stories waiting to be told, rather than just to keep poking around the world we made in self-congratulation.
I have some ideas, sure, but that’s in a “wait and see” mental file at the moment.
(Sidenote: I think in today’s market publishers should be commended for putting out serials. Without getting into it too far - this is a long pub rant - our industry inherited a really arse-backward set of inefficiencies and diminishing returns via the distribution monopoly, which punish retailers for taking risks and reward steady-as-she-goes ongoing books. Serials like Motherlands are IMO the lifeblood of what makes comics great - experimental, unique, bold, uncompromising, poignant and mercilessly imaginative - and they’re truly worth supporting.)
Motherlands#1 hits comic shops on Wednesday, January 31st. Check it out!
The First Avenger meets American Craftsmen in this deftly-told tale of sorcerer soldiers during World War II.
From the mind of prolific Star Trek writer David Mack comes an imaginative new fantasy series about an American student thrown into a world of mystery, magic, and the macabre on the eve of World War II.
Meet Cade Martin, a young man just finished his education at Oxford and perfectly comfortable (or at least mostly comfortable) with his decision to flee back to America with his parents as another great war looms in the distance.
But fate has other plans for Cade. When his parents are killed by a sea monster during their voyage home, Cade learns not only that there is "magick" in the world, but that, if the Axis powers are to be defeated, he will have to learn the ways of sorcery—and fast.
Cade's life is saved from the clutches of the aforementioned sea monster by Adair Macrae, a 357-year-old Scot who also happens to be the leader of the Midnight Front, a band of sorcerers working on the side of the Allied powers.
The members of the Midnight Front are called "karcists," and they harness the abilities of demons to wield their magic—power that comes at a steep price. The Midnight Front are the last and only line of defense against Hitler's own cadre of karcists, led by the nefarious Kein Engel.
That may seem like a lot of worldbuilding and terminology for a novel's introduction, but The Midnight Front reads like your favorite summer blockbuster or genre TV binge-watch, moving the reader tidily along with well-crafted action, witty banter, and a narrative that knows exactly where it's going structurally.
It's not surprising that The Midnight Front's prose has a cinematic quality to it, given that Mack has cut his teeth in the world of Star Trek, where the author has written several tie-in novels and co-written two episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (one of which was "It's Only a Paper Moon," one of Den of Geek's 50 Best Star Trek Episodes).
While Mack's story of a rich, white, male protagonist revealed to be The Chosen One may not be challenging many archetypes, there's a familiar fun to Mack's writing (even when things get gruesome) that makes for an enjoyable read. It helps that the stakes are set almost immediately, and boy are they high—both personally and, you know, in terms of world domination. You can't help but root for Cade from his first, doomed ocean voyage.
What The Midnight Front may lack in archetypal ambitions, it makes up for with the sheer temporal scope of its story. The first book in the Dark Arts series encompasses all of World War II, starting in 1939, ending in 1945, and checking in with many of the most important moments of the war—and making it look easy.
Some may find this use of war as backdrop uncomfortable, but for those who enjoy the use of supernatural elements as a way to explore historical horror—think Captain America: The First Avenger—then this is the series for you.
The Dark Arts series' second installments is slated for a January 2019 release, and with The Midnight Front already hinting at some Cold War themes in its final pages, this promises to keep up the pace of its supernatural retelling of 20th-century history. Whatever happens next,The Midnight Front is a page-turning start to an exciting new historical supernatural series.
There's a pilot order (and more) in the books for the HBO Watchmen TV series.
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 series just took another step towards with reality, with Nicole Kassell (The Leftovers) tapped to direct the pilot episode (via Variety). Her prestige drama career also includes episodes of Better Call Saul, The Americans, American Crime, and others.
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. That Hashtag Show, who are often on point with their TV scoops, claim that Watchmen is scheduled to begin production in March of 2018, but this might be a tight deadline. Then again, hiring a director is a good sign.
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."
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.
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.
While J.K. Rowling announced that Dumbledore is gay after writing the seven Harry Potter books, it has never been stated in canon.
Just in case you needed some more disappointing news about the Fantastic Beasts franchise, in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, director David Yates has said that Dumbledore's (Jude Law) sexuality will not be part of The Crimes of Grindelwald, the next film in the series.
When asked if The Crimes of Grindelwald will address Dumbledore's sexuality, Yates responded: "Not explicitly," adding: "But I think all the fans are aware of that. He had a very intense relationship with Grindelwald [played by Johnny Depp] when they were young men. They fell in love with each other's ideas, and ideology and each other."
The thing is: the fans are not clear on that because none of this has ever been explicitly stated in the text. Sure, you can read between the lines if you want to, but the only reason we know Dumbledore is gay is because J.K. Rowling made an announcement after the fact, which arguably isn't canon—it's not by my definition.
"I always thought of Dumbledore as gay," Rowling said at a 2007 event at Carnegie Hall. "Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was.” This isn't representation so much as a well-intentioned but ultimately empty attempt to add canonical representation that isn't actually there.
This means that, over the course of seven books, eight film adaptations, one stage sequel, and at least one prequel, there have been no canon queer characters in the Harry Potter universe. This includes The Cursed Child, which some have accused of queerbaiting when it comes to the central relationship of Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy and had the opportunity to add some queer context in its reflection of the seven books.
While some may argue that there's no need to define Dumbledore's sexuality in a film that is not explicitly about his love life, that argument becomes much thinner when the plot of the film includes a reunion between Dumbledore and his ex-lover/current nemesis Grindelwald. This feels like relevant, meaty context to explore, or at least mention as part of the central plot. It informs how both characters act and make decisions when it comes to the other.
"[Dumbledore]'s a maverick and a rebel and he's an inspiring teacher at Hogwarts," said Yates of the character in the film. "He's witty and has a bit of edge. He's not this elder statesman. He's a really kinetic guy. And opposite Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, they make an incredible pairing."
But, not, apparently, an incredible pairing with any kind of explicit romantic or sexual history. Well, there's always the next three films in the Fantastic Beasts franchise...
Marvel’s Black Panther is already wrecking competition, breaking multiple presale records.
Black Panther, the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe-set inaugural solo movie starring Chadwick Boseman’s big screen version of the comic book industry’s first African-originated superhero, will head into its release with auspicious accolades. While the film already set a record for first day advance ticket sales, its pre-release success has reached a new level, making it Fandango's top-selling superhero film... ever!
While Black Panther was already tracking phenomenally, the latest news from Fandango proves that – over a fortnight before its release – the film is already a box office force, revealing that the February-scheduled Marvel movie has surpassed the 2016 DC/Warner Bros. megamovie, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, for the title of the most lucrative pre-sales for a superhero movie. While Black Panther’s raw numbers were not published, it has reportedly surpassed Dawn of Justice’s advance take; a number factored into its $166 million opening weekend.
Once it arrives, Black Panther will have its work cut out regarding the reaching of more benchmarks. Currently, the title of all-time best February and President's Day weekend opening belongs to the 2016 surprise smash, Deadpool (whose sequel trailer will reportedly debut with Black Panther). However, industry analysts (via Deadline,) currently have Black Panther pegged for an opening weekend ranging between $120 million and $150 million, which would be below the mark. Of course, intangible elements like online buzz, its historical nature, as well as glowing early reviews, provide plenty of potential for the film to exceed those expectations.
Earlier in January, Fandango revealed that Black Panther’s advance ticket sales surpassed the advance sales numbers posted back in 2016 for Captain America: Civil War, making it the new king of MCU pre-sales. Contextually, Civil War, the highly-anticipated Marvel movie event that showcased, amongst stupendous superhero infighting, the onscreen debut of Boseman’s T’Challa/Black Panther, posted $179 million in its May 2016 opening weekend.
Black Panther was directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler, who wowed audiences with the 2013 drama, Fruitvale Station and the 2015 Rocky spinoff, Creed. Both of those films starred Michael B. Jordan, who returns for Coogler as villain Erik Killmonger. Here, Coogler draws upon something akin to the unearthly spectacle and grandeur of Asgard from the Thor films to bring the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda to life. Central to the plot is the political power struggle faced by Wakandan royal T’Challa, which will complement an attempt by Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) to exploit the hidden country’s main natural resource, vibranium, the nigh-indestructible metal woven into Black Panther's costume, which was also used to make Captain America’s shield.
Black Panther is set to unleash the fantastic fury of the Wakandan king to the big screen when it arrives at theaters on February 16.
This article was updated from its original form with new information.
Michelle MacLaren is moving from Game of Thrones, Westworld, and The Deuce to direct Chris Pratt as a Cowboy Ninja Viking
If ever there was a would-be blockbuster that sold its high-concept in the title, it is Cowboy Ninja Viking. What is a cowboy-ninja-Viking you might ask? Well it’s an action movie that is slated to star Chris Pratt, and if that wasn’t AAA enough in genre appeal, Game of Thrones’ Michelle MacLaren has been hired to direct the picture.
The hiring of MacLaren demonstrates that Universal Pictures is still very intent on making Cowboy Ninja Viking happen after the film was first announced in 2014. Pratt signed onto the whacky conceit then, which is based off an Image Comics IP, while fresh off making waves in Guardians of the Galaxy but before he became a full king of summer in the following year’s Jurassic World. Now he’s out to stake a claim in a franchise that will be all his own. And MacLaren is an intriguing choice.
Best known for directing high caliber television like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Westworld, and the premiere episode of this past fall’s The Deuce with James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, MacLaren has had a stellar television career, but has been trying to break into film after being initially attached to Wonder Woman, but dropping out due to creative differences.
Cowboy, Ninja, Viking also shows a friendly working relationship between Universal and Pratt, as the star is already starring in the studio’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom later this June. Yet this concept might be a little more out-there than even genetically engineered dinosaurs outrunning a volcanic eruption. Based on the Image Comics title by A.J. Lieberman and Riley Rossmo, the Image comic is about a super-secret assassin with Multiple Personality Disorder, which gives him the skills of a (you guessed it) cowboy, ninja, or Viking, depending on who is in control. The villain is also a billionaire who used a government program to turn Pratt’s Duncan character into a weapon that is codenamed Triplets. Because of course.
While previously scripted by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese (Zombieland, Deadpool), the most recent draft was penned by Craig Mazin (The Hangover Part III, The Huntsman: Winter’s War).
Brian Michael Bendis will write THREE Superman series for DC, and that's only the beginning...
Sometimes, Superman fans can feel like we're a neglected bunch. The Man of Steel may be DC's flagship character, and the superhero against which all others are judged, but frankly, he's been living in Batman's shadow for over 20 years now, and that's a little tiresome. But DC sure is looking to change that in 2018.
In just the last few weeks, DC has revealed the return of Superman's classic costume and the celebratory Action Comics #1000, which features work from some of comics' greatest talents. March sees the TV premiere of Krypton, which I'm not allowed to say too much about just yet but I promise is going to make Kryptonian scholars very happy. They even just announced plans for a Metropolis TV series focusing on Lois Lane and Lex Luthor. And don't forget we have new episodes of Supergirl to look forward to every Monday.
To top it all off, DC is celebrating Superman's 80th birthday by turning over comic book writing duties to one of the most influential creators of this generation, Brian Michael Bendis. Bendis' jump from Marvel to DC was headline news a few months ago, and there has been endless speculation about which character the writer would tackle first. The answer, of course, is Superman. Mr. Bendis will oversee a creative refresh of the Superman titles, with a new mini-series, a relaunched and renumbered Superman, and flagship title Action Comics.
Bendis' first work on Superman will come in a short story in Action Comics #1000 (with art by Jim Lee), arriving in April. This will be followed by Man of Steel, a six-issue weekly miniseries, which will kick off on May 30th. Man of Steel "will shake up the classic story of Krypton’s final days and Kal-El’s path to becoming an iconic hero, introducing a new villain that knows a terrifying secret behind the destruction of Superman’s homeworld."
Man of Steel will feature a powerhouse roster of artists, including Ivan Reis, Evan “Doc” Shaner (a favorite of mine), Ryan Sook, Kevin Maguire, Adam Hughes, and Jason Fabok. There's also a Man of Steel prelude which will appear as part of the DC Nation #0 preview sampler on May 2nd (that features art by legendary DC star Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez).
Check out these gorgeous Ivan Reis pencils for the interlocking covers of Man of Steel...
Bendis will then move to a brand new Superman #1 (with art by Ivan Reis) which arrives on July 11. Superman will deal with the fallout from Man of Steel and promises to build on the work done by the current creative team of Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. He'll also handle writing duties on Action Comics beginning with issue #1001 (with art by Patrick Gleason), which arrives on July 25. Action Comics under Bendis and Gleason will "spotlight more of Clark Kent and his role at the Daily Planet [and] take a closer look at how the actions of Superman impact the DC Universe."
There will also be a "Bendis-curated custom imprint of titles" arriving in 2018 that "will feature some of Bendis’ all-time favorite characters in very unique and unusual situations, combined with new characters created specifically for this new imprint." I have to wonder if this will be a DC Comics Presents style team-up book which will allow him to get a feel for other characters in the DCU, but note this is just speculation on my part.
The parallels between Brian Michael Bendis' DC arrival and John Byrne's over 30 years ago are unavoidable. Like Bendis, Byrne had made his name as a distinctly Marvel-centric creator, doing career defining work with the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Namor, and others, and when he was lured to DC, he was given the keys to the Superman titles. Byrne completely rebooted the Superman mythos with a six-issue Man of Steel limited series and renumbered Superman with a new #1. Action Comics became a DC Comics Presents style team-up book, while Adventures of Superman (under the stellar creative team of Marv Wolfman and Jerry Ordway) focused more on the Daily Planet. Bendis, coincidentally, was the writer of a Byrne/MoS style modernization of an iconic character, with the launch of Ultimate Spider-Man at Marvel in 2000 with artist Mark Bagley. This was a title so influential that it helped sow the seeds of not just big screen Spidey adventures, but the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While it seems pretty clear that Bendis isn't involved in a continuity reboot (fans should be comforted by the fact that the work being done by Tomasi and Gleason isn't getting paved over), the return of the classic costume and the introduction of new elements to the origin story makes this feel like a nod to Superman reboots of yore. With the level of artistic talent joining these titles, the only downside is that the fan favorite work being done by Tomasi/Gleason on Superman and Dan Jurgens and others on Action Comics has to come to an end. Those books are the best that the Superman comics have been in ages.
It's also worth noting that Man of Steel is the 2nd big DC weekly series/relaunch announced in the space of a week. The other is Justice League: No Justice, a similarly star-studded affair featuring Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, and Francis Manapul that will launch brand new Justice League books with new creative teams. The only "bad" (if you can call it that) thing about that relaunch is, like this Superman announcement, it heralds the end of Christopher Priest and Pete Woods' excellent creative period on the main Justice League title.
In any case, it looks like DC is gearing up for a massive summer, taking the goodwill it has fostered since 2016's Rebirth relaunch to the next level. The company's superhero line hasn't felt this alive in nearly a decade, and I get the feeling there is more to come.
The other big question getting answered has to do with Bendis' numerous creator owned properties. His Jinxworld imprint will now be published by DC Comics, so if you haven't yet had a chance to check out books like the utterly brilliant Goldfish, Jinx, Torso, or Powers, you'll now have your chance. We should get new installments of series like Powers, Scarlet, and the United States of Murder Incorporated via Jinxworld at DC, as well.
From the artist of One-Punch Man comes an adaption of the classic 80's movie.
It's time to get back in time, again! In a surprise announcement, it was revealed that a Back to the Future manga will be released this year! From the artistic talents of Yuusuke Murata (One-Punch Man, Eyeshield 21) and with supervision from original Back to the Future screenwriter Bob Gale comes an adaption of the 1985 film.
Thanks to Anime News Network we know that the manga will include "story content not seen in the film." Does that mean expanded scenes? Illustrating scenes that were deleted from the film? Inserting characters from the other films? As you can see from the promotional art below, it features characters from all of the Back to the Future films.
Now the website says it will an adaption of the original movie but who knows? Previous Back to the Future comics have done all kinds of crazy things with the timeline of the films so anything is possible.
Murata is currently working on the manga, but the Kono Manga ga Sugoi! site has a page from the first chapter's color opening.
Murata noted that drawing Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly is a "extremely high hurdle" to overcome, but he vows to do his best.
A Back to the Future manga from one of the biggest names in the industry right now? We're in!
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Now all we need is a Back to the Future anime. Follow him on Twitter!
When Marvel’s heroes finally come together in Avengers: Infinity War, Captain America will head into battle with a new shield.
Note: While one might label this topic as a “spoiler,” the reveal is destined to become part of the Avengers: Infinity War marketing blitz.
Avengers: Infinity War will, besides uniting the collective Marvel Cinematic Universe, put the (Avengers) band back together after the onslaught of infighting and enmity reaped in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. While that film left the enduring image of Chris Evans’s Steve Rogers/Captain America abandoning his iconic circular flag shield on the battlefield in an act of disillusionment, don’t expect him to continue without a new awesome aegis.
The new shield that Captain America will carry into battle in Avengers: Infinity War has been revealed, thanks to some early shots of an upcoming wave of Hasbro's Marvel Legends action figures for the film. The images, which are starting to flood social media, first popped up on a Marvel Legends Facebook Group (coming to us via MarvelousNews), showcasing the whole Infinity War wave of figures, which consist of movie-based figures in Captain America, Iron Man, (Iron) Spider-Man, Proxima Midnight, along with some comic-book-based figures.
Notably, the Captain America figure is seen packed with a prominent accessory in his newly designed shield (and Thanos's head, which is part of a build-a-figure incentive and likely NOT a plot spoiler). While this new shield is lacking any ostentatiously colorful design, it wouldn’t be a large speculative leap to assume that it’s made from Wakanda-mined vibranium provided by his new pal, Black Panther.
— Marvelous Realm (@MarvelousRealm) February 1, 2018
Moreover, the shield's semi-triangular shape appears to be a throwback to the design of Cap’s original Golden Age-era shield, which surfaced as a stage prop in the first Captain America movie, also manifesting recently in Marvel’s controversial Captain America: Steve Rogers series (in which Cap is depicted as a Hydra sleeper agent). While the shape would seemingly negate Cap’s ability to use the shield as a throwing weapon, it’s possible that it possesses hidden capabilities. Indeed, speculation has already been made that the mysterious gauntlets that Cap is seen sporting in the battle-charging main hero shot (pictured in the top image,) from the Infinity War trailer are actually detachable segments of his new shield; an idea that the aesthetic of the action figure accessory seems to support.
Regardless of how things ultimately play out in Avengers: Infinity War, there’s little reason to doubt the authenticity of the action figure images and toys do tend to provide valuable early insight into tentpole movies, context notwithstanding.
Avengers: Infinity War will mark the beginning of a magnificent Marvel Cinematic Universe crescendo on many fronts when it arrives at theaters on May 4.
We talked to Nnedi Okorafor about Binti, Black Panther, Star Wars, and working with George R.R. Martin and HBO to develop Who Fears Death.
As we've already established, Dr. Nnedi Okorafor is one cool creator. In addition to her original speculative fiction work like Binti (our current Den of Geek Book Club pick!), Akata Witch, Lagoon, and Who Fears Death, Okorafor is working within some of western culture's most popular canons: Star Wars and Black Panther.
For our second Den of Geek Book Club Podcast, I was lucky enough to talk to Dr. Okorafor about some of the many projects she's currently ensconsced in.
During our 30-minute conversation, we talked about whether she always knew the Binti story would be a trilogy and how her life in academia influenced her representation of an alien university. We also discussed why she chose the trash compactor monster as her subject for her short story contribution to Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View and what other Star Wars characters she wonders about.
Other topics touch upon include what it has been like working alongside George R.R. Martin and Selwyn Seyfu Hinds to develop the Who Fears Death TV pilot for HBO and what she wanted to explore about Wakanda in her Black Panther: Long Live the King arc for Marvel. We talked about the differences between working more collaboratively in the mediums of comic books or TV versus the unilateral power of writing your own fiction, and what her experience working within corporately-"owned" stories like Star Wars or Black Panther has been like.
It was a fascinating conversation, and one I encourage you to dive into below...
Batman and Catwoman are getting married and the Joker is not happy about it. See what happens next in DC Nation #0!
Who knew that the best thing that could happen to Batman was getting engaged to Catwoman? You would have had to make a pretty strong case for this union a year or two ago, but writer Tom King has more than made his point with his current run on Batman. Bruce shocked the world in issue #24 (which featured fantastic art from David Finch) when he got on one knee and proposed to Selina Kyle on a Gotham City rooftop. Since then, the Bat and the Cat have been preparing for their very special day, a marriage long in the making.
Some of the book's supporting characters have taken the news better than others. One of the best scenes in all of King's run comes in issue #33 when Alfred breaks the news to the rest of the Bat family. It's a moment so hilarious that it kind of defines King's run so far. If Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and FCO Plascencia brought epic adventure and color to Batmanin the New 52 era, King's introduced tons of humor to the book. Seriously, there's nothing funnier than Damian Wayne finding out about his dad's engagement and absolutely losing his shit.
Much to Damian's chagrin, DC has finally set a date for the highly anticipated Wayne wedding, and it'll probably involve fireworks. Issue #50, which arrives on July 4, will conclude the wedding arc. Unfortunately for all involved, someone forgot to send the Joker an invite...
A special 32-page preview book, DC Nation #0, will show what happens when Joker learns from a third party that Batman is getting married. It's been long established (at least since Snyder's run) that Joker knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman, but has chosen to ignore that fact for the most part. But will Joker be too pissed to hold his tongue at the wedding?
The short story will feature a script from King and art by Clay Mann, who recently drew the excellent first half of the "Superfriends" arc, which shows what happens when Batman and Superman go on a double date and Selina and Lois become besties.
Here's the synopsis for the story:
In a Batman story by Tom King and artist Clay Mann, The Joker gets word about the wedding between the Bat and the Cat, and he’s not happy. With the wedding story arc reaching its climax in BATMAN #50 on sale July 4, The Joker will be that one wedding guest most likely to speak now and not hold his peace at all.
Check out the cover for the book:
Syfy is adapting George R.R. Martin’s novella and 1987 movie, Nightflyers, as a TV series.
Nightflyers stands as one of George R.R. Martin’s more intriguing pre-Game of Thrones space science-fiction offerings, starting as a 1980 novella, eventually inspiring a schlocky, limited-release 1987 film adaptation. However, it appears that the Literary God of Death’s old property is about to be reincarnated as a television series over at Syfy.
Last year, the genre-aimed NBCU cable outlet ordered a pilot for Nightflyers, which has since expanded into a series pickup. Additionally, Nightflyers recently received a bountiful boon of €850,000 ($1.1 million,) from the Irish Film Board and will soon begin filming at Limerick’s Troy Studios
Phillip Rhys is the latest addition to the Nightflyers cast, reports Deadline. Rhys will recur on the series as Murphy, who is described as “a top systems tech engineer” who become inconsolably disturbed upon learning that “an L-1 telepath” is amongst the Nightflyer’s complement.
Rhys, an English actor, appeared in the 2015 Doctor Who Christmas special as Ramone, one of the episode’s titular “Husbands of River Song.” He’s also fielded TV runs on 24, Nip/Tuck and Survivors, along with guest spots on Rosewood, Glee, CSI, Bones and Warehouse 13.
With Syfy's early-January announcement of Nightflyers’ full series order came the reveal of the show’s cast.
Gretchen Mol will headline the series, playing Dr. Agatha Matheson.
Mol, who burst on the scene as a late-1990s it-girl from roles in Donnie Brasco, Rounders and The Thirteenth Floor, and steamed up the small screen in the 2005 HBO biopic, The Notorious Bettie Page, has made her presence known with recent television runs on Chance, Mozart in the Jungle and Boardwalk Empire. She notably appeared in last year’s Oscars-accruing drama, Manchester by the Sea. She's also booked to appear in the upcoming USA drama series Yellowstone.
And here’s the supporting cast:
Eoin Macken (The Night Shift) as Karl D’Branin
David Ajala (Fast & Furious 6) as Roy Eris
Sam Strike (EastEnders) as Thale
Maya Eshet (Teen Wolf) as Lommie
Angus Sampson (Fargo) as Rowan
Jodie Turner-Smith (The Last Ship) as Melantha Jhirl
Brían F. O'Byrne (Million Dollar Baby) as Auggie
Stepping in as showrunner/executive-producer is Daniel Cerone, whose credits include The Blacklist, Motive, Constantine, The Mentalist and, much further back, Charmed.
Mike Cahill (I Origin) will direct the pilot.
Screenwriter Jeff Buhler has adapted Martin’s original story. He wrote the 2008 Bradley Cooper-starring horror film The Midnight Meat Train and horror thriller remake Jacob’s Ladder. Onboard as executive producers are Gene Klein, David Bartis and Edge of Tomorrow and The Bourne Identity franchise blockbuster director Doug Liman, all of whom are representing production company Hypnotic, which Liman co-owns with Bartis. Alison Rosenzweig and Michael Gaeta of Gaeta Rosenzweig Films along with Lloyd Ivan Miller and Alice P. Neuhauser of Lloyd Ivan Miller Productions are also onboard.
Additionally, George R.R. Martin himself will be a credited executive producer on the series.
“We are looking forward to diving deeper into George R. R. Martin’s chilling world of Nightflyers,” Bill McGoldrick, executive vice president of scripted development for NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, said in a July statement. “The script that Jeff delivered encapsulates this classic sci-fi horror story and adapts it to a platform where we can truly explore the depths of madness.”
Robert Jaffe, who wrote the screenplay for the 1987 Nightflyers film, is onboard the series as a producer. It doesn't look like Martin will be involved with the series, at least for now.
The story of the George R.R. Martin-conceived supernatural space thriller is set on the eve of Earth’s destruction, depicting the travails of the crew of the most advanced ship in the galaxy in the titular spacecraft the Nightflyer. Adrift in space without a planet to call home, the goal of the surviving humans is to intercept a mysterious alien ship which is believed to hold the key for their survival. However, as the ship closes in on its destination, it becomes apparent that the Nightflyer’s onboard AI and its elusive captain – with mysterious motivations – may be leading the crew on a primrose path ending in the hopeless, horrific darkness of deep space.
The genesis of Nightflyers occurred with George R.R. Martin’s original 1980 novella of the same name, for which he received Japan’s Seiun Award in 1983 for Best Foreign Language Short Story of the Year. The story was subsequently collected as the title entry in Martin’s 1985 Nightflyers collection. The 1987 film adaptation, directed by Robert Collector (Jungle Warriors), starred perennial 1980s movie love interest Catherine Mary Stewart and Dynasty’s Michael Praed, manifesting with a limited release that grossed a paltry $1.145 million dollars at the box office (and sent Martin back to television to write for Beauty and the Beast).
Nightflyers Release Date
Nightflyers has yet to set a release date. However, the series is currently in the midst of production in Ireland.
In an age of adaptation, we still don't have a faithful adaptation of Mary Shelley's classic genre novel.
Mary Shelley's gothic novel Frankenstein is a story constantly being retold — but almost never has it been retold faithfully. In 2015, we got Victor Frankenstein, the latest in screen adaptations bearing the Frankenstein name, but having little to do with the original text.
This habit of less-than-faithful adaptations of Shelley's work goes back a long time. The history of Frankenstein adaptations is the history of hodgepodge narrative parts continually being stitched, torn, and re-stitched back together into an amalgamation of what has come before. But, when "before" is 200 years of stage and screen adaptations, source material and inspiration bleed together, and the "original" becomes distorted — like a game of temporal telephone.
But past the narrative convolution that comes with the passage of time, Frankenstein has seemingly always been a text that eschews faithful adaptation. From the very beginning, on the stage and as one of the first films ever made, Mary Shelley's original vision of a man and the creature he created has rarely been its own...
How Frankenstein Came to Be
For those with an interest in English literature, feminism, or the birth of modern science fiction, perhaps the story of how Frankenstein came to be is as famous as the book itself. The basic tale was first written down by an 18-year-old Mary Shelley (then Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin) in 1816 while she and lover/future husband Percy Shelley were visiting Lord Byron in Switzerland.
Dubbed “The Year Without a Summer,” the eruption of Mount Tambora had the Europe of 1816 in the clutches of a volcanic winter, leaving the idle group with little to do in the form of outdoor recreation while staying near Lake Geneva.
Instead, the literary colleagues took to reading German ghost stories to one another, leading to the challenge that they each pen their own ghost story. And thus, one of the first works of modern science fiction was born. Frankenstein, as a full novel, would be published anonymously two years later on New Year's Day in 1818.
Do you Know the Story of Frankenstein?
For those unfamiliar with the source material, Frankensteinis an epistolary novel, told in a series of letters from Captain Robert Walton to his sister, as well as in his journal entries (it should be noted that this narrative framing very rarely makes it into screen or stage adaptations).
Glory-driven Walton is on an Arctic expedition when his crew finds a cold and broken Victor Frankenstein. They pull him aboard, and Dr. Frankenstein relays the story of the monster he created to Walton--the monster he is pursuing across the ice.
It is a story of creation and abandonment and family. The Creature is arguably much more of the heroic, sympathetic protagonist here than Frankenstein, whose sin is not in playing God (though some have made that argument) but rather in leaving his creation alone in a confusing, cruel-to-difference world.
Unlike so many of his on-screen interpretations, the Creature of the novel is eloquent, thoughtful, and — at least at first — inspired by the beauty of the natural world. Later, he uses his gift for language to articulate his anguish, telling Frankenstein, "I am content to reason with you. I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? You, my creator, would tear me to pieces and triumph; remember that, and tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me?"
The First Frankenstein Plays and Movies
If none of this plot or backstory sounds familiar, it’s probably not your fault. (Well, you could read Frankenstein, which is one of those classics that holds up remarkably well.) Most screen adaptations pick and choose what they want from the original material, more often drawing inspiration from the 1931 movie starring Boris Karloff than Mary Shelley.
But a full two decades before director James Whale made the iconic horror film, Frankenstein was already a movie star — in fact, the story was one of the first committed to film. Frankenstein's adaptation to the screen happened roughly a decade after cinema itself was invented, making this self-admittedly "liberal adaptation" from Edison Productions one of the first movies ever.
One of the notable changes form the novel in the 12-minute film is a happy ending for Frankenstein and his new wife, Elizabeth (spoiler alert: in the book, the Creature kills Elizabeth on their wedding night, and Frankenstein himself later dies on the ice. Pretty bleak).
Of course, the decision to make Frankenstein into one of Edison's earliest motion picture productions did not happen in cultural isolation. There is an adaptation path to be traced between the publication of the novel and the creation of films like this 1910 classic and the 1931 version.
According to this Film School Rejects article, 1823 — the first year Frankenstein was adapted to the stage — had five separate plays on the stage. It was these early stage adaptations that first introduced the character of Victor Frankenstein’s assistant Fritz, who would later evolve into the Igor we know from so many later movie adaptations.
The Boris Karloff film actually drew inspiration from a 1927 stage play by Peggy Webling, rather than the novel itself. And, moving forward into the era of such classics like Young Frankenstein or not-classics like the recently-released Victor Frankenstein, one could easily argue that most subsequent Frankenstein adaptations have more to do with James Whale’s 1931 film — and its 1935 sequel The Bride of Frankenstein — than they do with Shelley’s work.
The Most Faithful Adaptations to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Though many Frankenstein adaptations are more interested in the 1931 film or some action-oriented blockbuster (yes, I,Frankenstein, I'm looking at you), there have been attempts at a more faithful version over the years.
Kenneth Branagh took a stab at a faithful retelling of Frankenstein with his 1994 film Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The movie does a slightly better job articulating the nuances of the Creature than most other adaptations, but still falls short of the mark. The film also changes the ending in a particularly jarring way, not only bringing the Creature's bride to life, but giving her Elizabeth's head and memories. Yikes.
David Crow makes a good argument on this site that Penny Dreadful's interpretation of the Creature in the form of Caliban is one of the most faithful versions of the character ever brought to screen.
Everything from the Monster's raven hair to his loquacious love for John Milton was transferred to television in tact. However, if you're looking for an adaptation that not only takes on the iconic character, but the full story, I would recommend the National Theatre's stage version undertaken in 2011.
British film director Danny Boyle brought Frankenstein to the stage starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller. The two well-known actors alternated the roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature every performance, creating a more literal thematic connection between the two characters. Two sides of the same coin. Two creatures eventually brought down by their guilt, hate, and anger.
The production was a relatively close adaptation of the original novel (with the problematic addition of a rape scene), and was broadcast to cinemas around the world through National Theatre Live, meaning that this adaptation, in some sense, was also a screen one.
However, the performance has yet to be released on DVD and, according to the theater, never will be if the play's creators have anything to say about it. The Powers That Be prefer that the ephemerality of the performance be preserved. One can only hope this means Frankenstein will find its way to cinemas again for more encore performances.
Why Does Frankenstein Resist Faithful Adaptation?
Why is Frankenstein so rarely adapted with a sense of fidelity? One need look no further than the earliest stage adaptation — Presumption: or the Fate of Frankenstein (1823) — to at least partially answer that question. Chris Baldick's book In Frankenstein's Shadow details how the play made great efforts to appease conservative backlash (many found the novel subversive and atheistic).
The production was nonetheless boycotted by a "friends of humanity" group, prompting the play's management to release the following statement: "The striking moral exhibited in this story is the fatal consequence of that presumption which attempts to penetrate beyond prescribed depths, into the mysteries of nature."
Furthermore, director Richard Brinsley Peake introduced the Frankenstein's assistant character who "prepares the audience to interpret the tale according to received Christian notions of sin and damnation by telling them that 'like Dr Faustus, my master is raising the devil.'"
Almost two centuries later, Daniel Radcliffe plays an incarnation of this character designed to explain to the audience how they should feel about Frankenstein's playing God in Victor Frankenstein.
The Importance of the Female Perspective
As the daughter of anarchist philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (who died 11 days after Mary's birth), Mary Shelley was a fascinating woman, one with much to say in a culture not-so-interested in what women had to say about it.
One of the reasons Frankenstein so endures is because of its examination of the arrogance of man and the failings of a world without empathy — a theme that, of course, can be explored by anyone, but one that doesn't seem to get a lot of play in works undertaken by privileged white men.
It seems important to note, at this point, that most of the Frankenstein adaptations (though certainly not all) have been undertaken by men who are perhaps less culturally-motivated to consider the more traditional way life is brought into this world. After all, due to the limitations Western society places on both genders, while science has historically been a man's domain, child-rearing has historically been a woman's.
Journalist Sady Doyle recently responded to Victor Frankenstein director Paul McGuigan's recent assertion that Mary Shelley's original work is "dull as dishwater," by outlining the convincing theory that Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein as a sort of revenge for her sister Fanny (given name: Frances), who was abused for being illegitimate and eventually killed herself, writing in her suicide note: "You will soon forget there was ever such a creature as..."
There are many interpretations of the Frankenstein story — many of them autobiographically-based. This is one of the reasons it is such a good story. But a parent's neglect and the toll it plays not only on the child, and everyone in his life, is certainly a central one. And one that is often neglected in Frankenstein adaptations in favor of exploring the themes of science, nature, and man's hubris speficially in relation to his work. These interpretations are not mutually exclusive, but the latter is often valued over the former.
It is perhaps easy to look at Frankenstein, and its two male protagonists, and to adapt it with little attention to the importance of women and other socially-devalued characters in the story. After all, they are all periphary characters. But they are the characters who suffer the most. Or at least the ones who suffer the most with the least amount of power to change their fates.
Victor and his Creature are constantly suffering, but they have created their own suffering and have many chances to alter their own destinies. Elizabeth and the Creature's female companion are never granted that same power.
The Future of Frankenstein Adaptations
As this Den of Geek article points out, faithfulness does not equate to quality. Some of the most faithful screen adaptations of books are the worst, while some of the least faithful adaptations can become something better. There are too many variables involved, too many possible permutations to make sweeping generalizations. And, in the world of Frankenstein adaptations, for example, Whale's 1931 film remains the classic, one that continues to influence culture in its own important ways.
However, it would be nice to get a modern Frankenstein adaptation that is more readily available than Danny Boyle's stage version and more complete than Penny Dreadful's Creature — if only for all the high school English teachers who need something to show when they are out sick.
Sadly, as far as I know, there are currently no faithful Frankenstein adaptations in the works. What is happening in the Frankenstein adaptation world? Well, there is a Bride of Frankenstein reboot in pe-production. The film will be part of a larger crossover monster film universe currently being created by Universal. So, yeah.
Perhaps of more interest to hardcore Frankenstein novel lovers out there, there are also two Mary Shelley biopics in the works. In A Storm in the Stars, 17-year-old Shelley will be played by Elle Fanning. The film will tell the story of the relationship between the young author and Percy Shelley, as well as the ways in which Mary Shelley feels out of step with her time. A Storm in the Stars boasts a female writer, Emma Jensen, female producers, and a female director, Haifaa Al-Mansour (Wadja).
The second Mary Shelley biopic in the works, Mary Shelley's Monster, stars Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner as the author. While A Storm in the Stars will focus on Shelley's pre-Frankenstein life, Mary Shelley's Monster will look at Shelley from age 18 to 21. We will see the anonymous publication of the novel, as well as Shelley's transition into marriage and motherhood. The film also has a female director — relevantly, Penny Dreadful's Cory Giedroyc — and a female write in Deborah Baxtrom.
Perhaps interest in Mary Shelley's life will eventually drum up some excitement for a more faithful retelling of her most famous story. In the mean time, we'll have to make do with what we've got: one of the best genre novels of the last few centuries.
BOOM! Studios to adapt Rod Serling’s unproduced Planet of the Apes screenplay as a graphic novel.
Get your stinking hands off that book, you damned dirty ape. That’s a Rod Serling original. The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery creator’s original screenplay for Planet of the Apes was never produced, but it will not stay half-buried like the Statue of Liberty. BOOM! Studios and 20th Century Fox Consumer Products will adapt the script into comic book format as Planet Of The Apes: Visionaries.
The graphic novel Planet Of The Apes: Visionaries is from Dana Gould (The Simpsons) and Chad Lewis (Avengers Origins).
“Planet Of The Apes meant as much to me growing up as baseball means to most kids. No lie,” Gould said in a statement. “That I'm now able to be involved with this universe in a creative capacity, much less adapting the original Rod Serling script... I mean, Rod Serling! I am incredibly grateful to BOOM! Studios for this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
“Planet Of The Apes: Visionaries is a dream project because it combines my love of retro sci-fi fi and anthropomorphic characters,” Lewis added. “There’s nothing better than drawing human emotions on gorillas and chimps! Dana has deftly translated these great characters and world into the graphic novel format and it's a joy to illustrate every corner of the rich universe.”
The new original graphic novel will drop in August 2018 as part of the 20th Century Fox Uncovered collection in celebration of the 50th anniversary celebration of Planet of the Apes.
The science fiction classic starring Charlton Heston is an adaptation of the French novel La Planète des singes by French novelist Pierre Boulle, who also wrote the novel The Bridge over the River Kwai. Serling was commission to adapt the book by 20th Century Fox. Serling’s first draft was revised before shooting started. The final version was radically different from what wound up on celluloid.
“For every Planet of the Apes fan that’s wanted to see what Rod Serling’s original film would’ve looked like and the team on this graphic novel will blow you away,” Dafna Pleban, Editor, BOOM! Studios, said in a statement. “Dana Gould and Chad Lewis having lovingly adapted the ambitious, original plan for Planet of the Apes film into a graphic novel that speaks to the timeless, unflinching themes of the franchise while offering an entirely new vision of familiar faces.”
“This is the world you know from the acclaimed Planet of the Apes film series, but with key differences,” reads the official synopsis. “Taylor is Thomas, and Ape City isn’t a crude, primitive grouping of huts; instead, it’s a bustling and urbane metropolis filled with cars and skyscrapers and a vibrant Ape culture. In a world where Apes wear modern clothes, drive modern cars and rule the late night talk show scene, the arrival of one man will forever change how Apes – and Humans – view themselves.”
Planet Of The Apes: Visionaries used the original 1966 makeup test and concept art as a jumping off point. The cover art was designed by Paolo Rivera, the Eisner award-winning artist behind Daredevil.
Print copies of Planet Of The Apes: Visionaries will be available for sale in August 2018 at local comic book shops. Digital copies can be purchased from content providers, including comiXology, iBooks, Google Play, and the BOOM! Studios app.
Outcast Season 2 is (finally) coming to the U.S., on Cinemax, heralded by a teaser trailer.
Outcast Season 2 was confirmed even before Season 1 aired on Cinemax... back in 2016. The show, which is based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), stars Patrick Fugit as a local small-town pariah with the ability to exorcise demons, who thusly finds himself (along his estranged wife and young daughter,) targeted by people-possessing malevolent spirits that, for some reason, seem to be pervasive in his neck of the West Virginia woods.
With the first season of Outcast proving itself to be an intriguing offering in the crowded demonic possession genre, one would think that Season 2 would have arrived relatively quickly. Well, it DID… in the U.K., anyway, airing from April to June of 2017 on Fox, which has (advance) international distribution rights. Consequentially, by the time Outcast Season 2 arrives on Cinemax in the U.S., it will be about a year late.
Outcast Season 2 Trailer
An ominously creepy, yet informative, soliloquy from young Amber (Madeleine McGraw), the daughter of the show’s reluctant exorcist, Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), serves as the focus of this brief teaser. The clip closes by heralding the arrival of Outcast Season 2 for the ambiguous release window of “this summer.”
The first teaser trailer for Outcast Season 2 debuted at New York Comic Con 2016. – Little did we know at the time how far ahead the U.S. airdate would ultimately land.
You can watch Outcastseason 1 on Amazon Prime, and on iTunes.
Outcast Season 2 Release Date
Outcast Season 2 will make its U.S. premiere on Cinemax on a date to be determined in summer 2018.
The season premiered on Fox in the U.K. on April 3, 2017.
Various Star Wars movies, games and TV shows have been canceled over the years. The Force was not strong with these...
The Star Wars universe is a dangerous place. For example, "man walks into a bar" gags in Mos Eisley tend to end with unwarranted threats, droid racism, limbs being chopped off, impromptu deaths or – worst of all – rigorous re-editing.
Until the Disney buy-out, the world created by George Lucas was just as treacherous for seemingly-exciting projects. Lucasfilm, for a time, became notorious for the number of cancelations under its belt, with films, TV shows and game ideas constantly being chucked out at various stages of their development.
But when did the term "countless" ever stop us from trying to count things? Never, that’s when. So we donned a pointy-hooded robe and scoured the desert wilderness of the internet to bring you what we hope is a complete list of what we’ve missed out on from that galaxy far, far away.
We haven’t covered canceled Star Wars books and comics here, simply because there are too many to count. Forgive us, please.
So, without further Bantha poodoo, here’s our tribute to the Star Wars projects that we’ll never get to see…
George Lucas’ Sequel Trilogy
What was it? The first entry on our list is undeniably the most talked-about; George Lucas’ original plans for a Star Wars sequel trilogy. Indeed, several reports will have you believe that Mr Lucas envisioned a further three films since the very invention of the Star Wars universe.
“It's a nine-part saga that has a beginning, a middle and an end,” said Lucas in 1980. It progresses over a period of about fifty or sixty years with about twenty years between trilogies, each trilogy taking about six or seven years.”
Plot-wise? Luke and his sister (not Leia at this stage of planning, apparently) would have been developing their skills with the force, it is believed, while moral and philosophical problems would have been the focus. Key themes would have been distinguishing right and wrong, as well as passing on your knowledge.
A romantic interest for Luke, as well as his children, his legacy and the rebirth of the Republic would also have been on the agenda.
Rumours persist that, if all had gone to plan, a Hamill-cameo akin to Obi-Wan’s role in A New Hope would have appeared in the sequel trilogy’s final installment, Star Wars Episode IX, in around 2011.
What happened? "Basically what I said as a joke was, 'Maybe when Harrison and Carrie are in their 70s, we'll come back and do another version.'” said Lucas in 2002. “The thing I didn't realise then, and that I do realize now very clearly, is that not only would they be in their 70s, but I would be in my 70s too."
In 2008, Lucas is also quoted as saying that "the movies were the story of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, and when Luke saves the galaxy and redeems his father, that's where that story ends."
It sounds to us that Lucas simply lost passion for the project, which ties in well to his well-known desire to step away from the blockbuster arena.
Chances of resurrection? Well, the Sequel Trilogy is very much a reality now, so we may never know the extent of Lucas' plans for a new generation of galactic heroes and villains, but we know the movies have taken at least a few things from his original outline for Episode VII.
Indeed, it seems Lucas has been fairly separate from the creative process in his role as a consultant. “I mostly say 'you can't do this. You can do that,'" he told Bloomberg Businessweek. "You know, 'The cars don't have wheels. They fly with antigravity.' There's a million little pieces. Or I can say, 'He doesn’t have the power to do that, or he has to do this.' I know all that stuff."
“A film about robots, with no humans in it”
What was it? As more of an aside (albeit an interesting one), from George Lucas’ aforementioned sequel trilogy planning, a droid-centric cinematic outing was on his mind at one point.
In 1980, Lucas told Prevuemagazine that “as I was writing, I came up with some ideas for a film about robots, with no humans in it.”
“When the smoke cleared, I said, 'This is really great. I'll do another trilogy that takes place after this [the original trilogy].' I had three trilogies of nine films, and then another couple of odd films. Essentially, there were twelve films,” Lucas added, slightly confusingly.
What happened? A solo cinematic outing for R2-D2 and C3-PO seems the exact sort of thing studio executives looking for bankable shared cinematic universes would invest in these days. At the time, the idea didn’t seem to float, though. As soon as 1981, it seems Lucas had stopped referring to the droid-heavy movie in his interviews.
Chances of resurrection? Very slim. But, if you were paying attention to kids’ TV in the late 1980s, you might have spotted the animated Star Wars spin-off Droids. Although not feature length or cinema-standard, this series is probably as close as we will get. "Droids in Distress," an episode from StarWars Rebels, is a decent substitute too.
“Wookiees, nothing else”
What was it? As above, Lucas was tentatively planning a Wookiee-centric movie in the year 1980.
In the same interview where he suggested the droids movie, he also said “When I got to working on the Wookiee, I thought of a film just about Wookiees, nothing else. So, for a time, I had a couple of odd movies with just those characters.”
Plot-wise, the world of Wookiees opens up many possibilities in the wider Star Wars universe. Life-debts are common amongst Wookiees, which has been played in interesting directions previously, while the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk is one of the more beautiful corners of the Star Warsgalaxy.
What happened? Again, the idea simply stopped being mentioned. To our decades-later speculation-heavy minds, this seems to suggest a studio bigwig shut the idea down quickly.
Chances of resurrection? Nil, but did the ideas here become the infamous Holiday Special, we wonder? If not, perhaps some recycled concepts ended up in 1985’s Ewoks TV series. We’ll never know, but there’s a chance the cinema-going public might have dodged a bullet here.
3D rereleases of Attack Of The Clones and Revenge Of The Sith
What was it? You might remember in 2012 when, in lieu of creating new content, a 3D rerelease for the prequel trilogy was announced by Lucasfilm/ 20th Century Fox.
The first one went ahead, with The Phantom Menace picking up a nifty $43 million in the US to nudge its original box office total over the $1 billion mark. Fans also got to enjoy some podracing-style 3D glasses. They had, er, fun.
However, with the big changes to the behind-the-scenes Star Wars world occurring in 2013, Lucasfilm’s cancelled the rereleases of Attack of theClones and Revenge of the Sith.
What happened? The production of The Force Awakens happened, in this case. Shortly after the cancelation occurred, Kathleen Kennedy released a statement saying “given the recent development that we are moving forward with a new Star Wars trilogy, we will now focus 100 percent of our efforts on Star Wars: Episode VII in order to ensure the best possible experience for our fans.”
Chances of resurrection? Well, that statement concluded with “We will post further information about our 3D release plans at a later date,” so it seems the idea hasn’t been completely canned. With Disney’s desire to push forward in a Marvel Studios-esque model of yearly instalments and spin-offs, we’ve no idea when they’d fit this in, though.
Josh Trank's Boba Fett Standalone
What was it? It's no secret that Disney wants to make a Boba Fett solo movie to add to their expanding universe of Star Wars Anthology films. For years, whenever the possibility of a Star Wars spinoff came up, the first name mentioned was Boba Fett, thanks to fans' unending fascination with the badass-looking bounty hunter who never actually got around to doing anything of note in The Empire Strikes Back, croaking unceremoniously in Return of The Jedi, with a dopey origin story foisted on him in Attack of The Clones. But Boba Fett has mystique by the sandcrawler-load, and that's all that counts.
Names like Joe Johnston and Lawrence Kasdan had long been whispered in association with a Boba Fett movie, and at one point, Disney was ready to actually get to work on it. In fact, just a couple of years ago, Boba Fett was intended to be the second Star Wars Anthology movie after Rogue One. The director? Josh Trank, who had made his name on Chronicle, and was getting set to make a big summer blockbuster splash with 2015's Fantastic Four for 20th Century Fox.
What happened? The plan was to officially unveil Mr. Trank as the director of Star Wars Anthology: Boba Fett (or Boba Fett: A Star Wars Story, or whatever it was going to be called) at Star Wars Celebration in April 2015, the same event where we first heard the title Rogue One. The problem was that Mr. Trank was deep into post-production and last minute edits on the deeply troubled Fantastic Four production. As a result, Mr. Trank never appeared at the event, and there were reportsthat he was specifically asked by Disney executives not to attend. Note that despite those reports, Mr. Trank and Lucasfilm issued a joint statement indicating that he had left the mystery Star Wars project on his own terms, and that the parting was an amicable one.
While the words "Boba Fett" never appeared in that statement, that was definitely what was in the cards. And in a different universe, fans who attended Star Wars Celebration 2015 would have seen not one, but two teasers, Rogue One...and Boba Fett. The news of the mystery, unseen Boba Fett teaser reel comes from Entertainment Weekly, and given the abrupt timing of Mr. Trank's departure, it makes perfect sense that Lucasfilm was ready to give Boba Fett the same kind of red carpet rollout that they gave the less familiar Rogue One at the event. The initial Rogue One teaser they unveiled was little more than a proof-of-concept, and not actual footage from the film, so Boba Fett would have been something similar, but it's still worth noting that this is out there somewhere.
Chances of resurrection? Lucasfilm is currently mapping out the future of standalone Star Wars movies and there's a very real chance the studio might still be interested in exploring a movie about the most infamous bounty hunter in the galaxy. Expect to see this one on the Star Wars movie slate eventually...
The TV Shows
Star Wars: Underworld
What was it? Here’s one we spent a fair bit of time speculating over and waiting for. Purported at one point to be going under the working title of StarWars: Underworld, this was a live-action telly project which was discussed as far back as 2005, all the way up until Disney stepped in and started working on their new movies instead.
After a bit of hanging around awaiting technological advancements, 50 episodes were scripted. The narrative focus was shifted away from the filmic cast, with Ronald D. Moore of Battlestar Galactica signing up to help script. He described the show as “complex, dark and adult." Life on Mars' Matthew Graham worked on the show too.
A Coruscant-based drugs/prostitution ring, the Empire’s growth in power and a potential bounty hunter lead were all strong rumours for the show, which was due to be set between the prequel trilogy and the originals.
What happened? This one, seemingly, got a little lost in the Disney acquisition. Talk went very quiet after the announcement of The Force Awakens and never really picked up again, save for some vague ‘it might be back in development one day’ type quotes.
Chances of resurrection? There's a good chance we'll see some semblance of Lucas' live-action Star Wars TV series now that Disney is working on one for its upcoming streaming service. We don't know how much Disney's live-action show might borrow from the Underworld concepts, but we reckon a few Lucas ideas will make it in there...
Darth Vader TV Specials
What was it? A project here which we only know a few salient details about – the once-rumoured Darth Vader TV specials.
A photo was leaked, from the European Brand Licencing Show (which sounds like a hoot), in October 2013. Disney/Lucasfilm had been presenting some of their Star Wars based work, with one project standing out like a sore thumb.
Spring/Summer 2014 was meant to house, it would seem, some Darth Vader-based TV specials. Whether these would have been live action remains a mystery, since the project never came to fruition.
What happened? Save for this one burst of information, we never heard about the project again.
Chances of resurrection? Darth Vader has gone on to appear in Rogue One and the second season of Rebels. He's also had a great comic book run at Marvel these past few years. Chances are that Disney doesn't really need these specials at the moment.
Detours TV series
What was it? This one was a rather intriguing prospect – an animated Star Wars series with a comedy twist. Star Wars: Detours was a project for Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich and was set, like the live action show, to explore some areas of the universe untouched by the main series of films.
Set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Detours would have featured voice cameos from the likes of Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, and Jar Jar Binks himself Ahmed Best.
What happened? Disney put the project on (seemingly indefinite) hold when they put The Force Awakens into production, not sure that a comedy series ‘made sense’ alongside their wider plans. 39 episodes are completed, with 62 scripted.
Chances of resurrection? We’d be surprised if those 39 episodes never see the light of day, even if they end up unceremoniously dumped on the internet somewhere. We live in hope that the whole project might be picked up in between the feature film slate, though. Seth Green remains positive about it.
What was it? In the gaps between films and tell shows, videogames have been (along with novels) the bread and butter of Star Wars for generations of fans. It’s no surprise, then, that the cancelled videogame projects on this list go almost as far back as the invention of the franchise itself.
Ewok Adventure was developed around the time of Return Of The Jedi for the Atari 2600, with dropping rocks on Imperials (causing them to explode) from the comfort of your glider taking up most of the game play. The end goal is taking down an Imperial Base, we’ve learned. Up there is clip from the game which has emerged online.
What happened? Under a shroud of mystery, Parker Brothers (the game’s developers) only opted to release Death Star Battle, and left their other Return Of The Jedi tie-in Ewok Adventure on the shelf.
Chances of resurrection? If you know where to look (we don’t), you can apparently find this whole game online. If you’re really desperate for some furry spin-off action, there was also a TV movie entitled Caravan Of Courage: An Ewok Adventure in 1984.
What was it? This is one we know very little about – Vernost’s console, estimated release date and characters remain a bit of a mystery.
What we do know is that it would have been a space battle game, with Republic and Imperial forces battling it out for control of the volcanic planet Vernost, where a miracle elixir was up for grabs, boasting benefits for human health and renewable fuel.
The most reliable source we can find (a 1993 issue of Popular Science) suggests that this was an arcade simulator game, with X-Wings being the spaceship of choice and shooting things being the main gameplay action. Around the mid-90s is the best guess for a release date.
What happened? This project faded into obscurity, with very little mention of it found online.
Chances of resurrection? No chance, lance. However, Star Wars did do a trade in arcade simulators over the years, with The Phantom Menace’s tie-in pod-racing game being a prime example.
What was it? Star Wars Galaxies, as you may well already know, was a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) available on PC. Star Wars:Proteus was set to be its console counterpart and spent six months in development around 2003. Pangea was a very similar project, aimed at next-gen consoles (PS3/Xbox 360, at the time).
Both teams were combined later, with Proteus becoming the focus. The game was set to include Bespin, Corellia and Sullust as settings and humans, Quarren and Kel Dor amongst the playable species.
What happened? "Difficulties with the interface, which created an unattractive revenue model" is the believed problem here, meaning the project never saw the light of day.
Chances of resurrection? Nope. Star Wars MMO fans eventually got The Old Republic to continue Galaxies' legacy of course, but that was also only available on PC. We wouldn’t rule out an attempted console effort MMO at some point in the future, though.
Star Wars: Imperial Commando
What was it? You might remember Republic Commando, the Star Wars game from 2003 which kitted you out as – you guessed it – a Republic Commando. Well, this would have been its sequel, which would have offered the experience of batting for the other team – the Imperials.
In the game you would have guided some of Vader’s finest on an array of exciting missions, not all of which would have included shooting down the good guys, apparently. Returns for the original game’s Delta Squad were rumoured, but not confirmed.
The game only got as far as a few concept paintings before being binned, it would seem.
What happened? Well, either they were some really shoddy paintings or LucasArts simply went cold on the idea. Facts are particularly sparse on this one.
Chances of resurrection? Rumours of a follow-up to Republic Commando have flown around a few times, but we wouldn’t count on it, to be honest. Playing exclusively as the baddies (albeit in a different format) was explored eventually in The Force Unleashed, though.
Knights Of The Old Republic III
What was it? For a whole lot of folk, this one will need no introduction at all. Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic and its follow-up The SithLords have a soft spot in the hearts of many, and, for a time, it looked like the saga wasn’t going to end there.
The story for KotOR III was written, environments made and characters were well into development. Lightsaber-wielding female Naresha was a confirmed character, although little else was revealed.
With the future exploits of Revan and The Exile left very ambiguous at the ends of their respective games, and a whole universe in which to invent new characters and scenarios, there’s no shortage of directions they could have gone in with this RPG.
What happened? Well, around the time of The Sith Lords' 2005 release, LucasArts wasn’t in the best of health, and the game fell out of favour, with the powers that be preferring to develop more bankable titles.
Chances of resurrection? It might be our optimistic imagination, but we still like to think that KotOR III might happen one day. Obsidian (who made The Sith Lords) displayed a tentative interest earlier this year, while Bioware (who made the original) went on to make The Old Republic as an MMO follow-up instead.
A straight-up RPG sequel relies on someone having a change of heart somewhere along the line, but it could be a possibility once the Star Wars universe has resettled post-The Force Awakens. (We wrote more wild speculation about KotOR III here).
Smuggler / Scum And Villainy
What was it? This one has its intentions written fairly clearly on the tin – the game which went by the names Star Wars: Smuggler and Star Wars:Scum And Villainy at varying stages of development, would have allowed us to fulfil our dream of becoming our own version of Han Solo.
Han himself wasn’t the protagonist, as far as we know, but this game would have given us a chance to create our own customisable smuggler in the StarWars universe and would have involved ‘smuggling and trading between Facebook, tablets and consoles.’
To us, that sounds like an ingenious cross-medium marketing ploy and, potentially, a whole lot of fun. Selling high and buying low would earn rewards, while the threat of Imperial entanglements added an element of danger to proceedings.
This one only reached concept art stage, some of which would later be incorporated into The Force Unleashed.
What happened? Around 2006, the project was dumped like dodgy cargo. The title later appeared as one of LucasArt’s 20 cancelled projects revealed in the book Rogue Leaders: The Story Of LucasArts.
Chances of resurrection? Given that the idea of trading between social media, handheld devices and home consoles still sounds a strong suggestion years later, we’d wager that something along these lines may resurface at some point. Blend that cross-platform concept with an engaging narrative and you could well be onto something.
Damage/ Darth Maul
What was it? Here’s one that could have offered a handy expansion of the Star Wars universe for a character who really should have appeared more in the films (read why here). Damage was the working title given to a Darth Maul spin-off game which was planned to intertwine with The Clone Wars.
It was developed by Red Fly, the game would have been given a cross-platform release in 2010, intended to roll out on PS3, Xbox 360, PC and WiiU. The pre-made audience from the TV show could have helped this onto big success, if the developers got it right.
Interestingly, an article by Games Informer pertains to know that this was a Maul origin tale which saw him tortured into becoming evil at a young age. Sounds dark.
Lucas weighed in at one point and asked the focus to be shifted onto Darth Krayt and Darth Talon from the Expanded Universe.
What happened? A while after Lucas confused Red Letter with his request, the game reached a definite cancelation in 2011.
Chances of resurrection? It’s too late for this project now, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see Darth Maul further explored in one way or another once The Force Awakens resettles the universe. We wouldn’t rule out gaming tie-ins to future TV shows, either.
Star Wars 1313
What was it? We’d wager that you remember this one – Star Wars 1313 was a highly-anticipated game that promised us a look at the dingy depths of Coruscant’s lower levels. The game was apparently aiming for a ‘mature’ rating so they could delve into some darker themes.
You would have started as a mysterious bounty hunter and later found out that you were actually playing as Boba Fett. "Exotic" weapons and a criminal conspiracy were promised plot-elements with fast-paced combat and non-lightsaber promising a very different feel to force-based games.
The game got a lot further than the ideas stage, with a trailer being debuted at E3 in 2012 (now viewable online, here). Of all the games on this list, this one might just be the saddest loss.
What happened? You know the story by now – Disney took over, shut down LucasArts and officially abandoned the 1313 trademark in April 2013.
Chances of resurrection? In the form we were expecting it, a resurgence seems very unlikely, given Disney’s hasty ditching of the trademark. Given the hype the game had already mustered from chatter and a trailer, we bet someone important is still thinking about releasing something similar.
What was it? Here’s one we really don’t know much about – StarWarsFirstAssault.com was a domain name snapped up by LucasArts in 2012 which, as ever, caused speculation around the internet.
Theories circulating the web suggested that First Assault might be a Battlefront-esque game featuring micotransactions and appearing on the Xbox downloadable arcade.
The term "first assault" makes us think of either Order 66 (the first Imperial assault on the Jedi) or the early days of the Rebellion. Of course, we will probably never know either way.
What happened? This was one of the many projects to fall by the wayside when Disney shut down LucasArts.
Chances of resurrection? Not likely, but Disney/EA will probably try and edge further into the microtransaction-heavy online gaming world with StarWars at some point.
What was it? Star Wars: Attack Squadrons is an interesting member of this list, not least because it stands as an actual Disney-led gaming project which didn’t make the cut, as opposed to the reams of LucasArts ideas that were cancelled in the prior takeover.
This PC-based spaceship game sounded to us like the modern take on similar material to nineties favourite Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, which introduced a generation to the joys of videogame space battles.
The game would have allowed multiplayer games of up to 16 players, and would have featured several iconic battles including the second Death Star's destruction at Endor.
What happened? May 2014 marked the end of this one, after four months of beta testing. The desire to focus on “other Star Wars gaming experiences” was cited as a typically vague reason.
Chances of resurrection? Not in this form - recovering from a cancellation so deep into production is fairly unlikely. Space battles will forever be an element of Star Wars videogames, though.
What was it? Another ditched LucasArts project here, and one that was looking to cash in on a popular trend in social media gaming.
Star Wars: Outpost was all set to be LucasArts’ answer to Farmville, the browser-based game which has probably popped up in your Facebook notifications (welcome or not) repeatedly in recent years.
Building empires would have been the focus, and presumably interacting with other such empires to add a social element. A focus on moisture farming, perhaps?
What happened? This one disappeared post-Disney with all the other failed LucasArts projects.
Chances of resurrection? Again, seeing Star Wars branch into Farmville-style territory doesn’t sound completely ridiculous, but we’d expect a different name and approach.
The New Emperor
What was it? This 1998 project from LucasArts was set to enter some mostly uncharted territory. A Star Wars spy game, with C-3P0 as the lead, focused on the time immediately after the original trilogy.
Apparently, the Empire wasn’t going to give up that easily after the events of Return of the Jedi and planned to announce a new Emperor to lead them back to power.
Your mission, as C-3P0, would be to infiltrate the Empire and try to gain information about the new Emperor. LucasArts were potentially planning to mix real actors and blue-screen technology on this one.
What happened? Not much is known about this one, but the mildly naff premise of C-3P0 entering the espionage game could well have put some big wigs off.
Chances of resurrection? Um, don’t count on it, folks.
New Rogue Squadron Trilogy / Rogue Squadron: X-Wing Versus Tie-Fighter
What was it? Seeing as the Rogue Squadron brand already spawned a trilogy of games, and then a Naboo-set prequel, it’s not surprising that LucasArts and Factor 5 (who have co-developed the series since the start) had plans to explore the franchise further.
In 2003, they were in fact allegedly 50% into producing a new Rogue Squadron trilogy which would update the original games for a new audience on the Xbox, before the games got canned.
A while later, around the time that Xbox 360 was being launched (2005-ish, then), LucasArts were planning to reintroduce the space-battle gaming icon with Rogue Squadron: X-Wing Versus Tie-Fighter, a launch game for the new console.
This game would have been an online multiplayer experience, with teams of players uniting online to make their own ‘squadrons’ in the Star Wars style of "Red 1 – standing by" and so forth.
Between these squadrons, a giant war between the Empire and the Rebels would have raged, which sounds a lot like a purely-space-based Battlefront to us, which could have been great fun.
What happened? A management change at LucasArts resulted in the 2003 Rogue Squadron revamp falling out of favour.
As for the 2005 multiplayer version, LucasArts were apparently sceptical about providing a launch title for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and instead they went and made Lair for the PS3. We imagine they might have kicked themselves for that later.
Chances of resurrection? That 2003 version actually already got an attempted resurrection in 2008, relocated to the Wii with some added lightsaber combat levels. The project was binned once more due to the financial crisis, despite being dubbed “the technically most impressive thing you would ever see on Wii” by former Factor 5 president Julian Eggebrecht. Shame.
People will always love space battles though, so we expect Rogue Squadron, or something similar, to reappear at some point when there are new films to tie-in with. That’s purely guess-work, though.
Star Wars Fighting Game
What was it? Here’s one that, had it been done right, could have cashed-in big time. Considering the success Injustice: Gods Among Us gave DC characters, a cancelled Star Wars fighting game from 2005 seems like a sizeable missed opportunity.
Of course, Injustice benefitted from the power of a modern Mortal Kombat engine behind it, while the untitled Star Wars fighting game did not, so we don’t know for sure that this would have been as good. Robomodo, the company how were working on the game, had worked on Mortal Kombat titles before, though.
What we do know from that pic above is that the second Death Star was tipped as a probable location and that Darth Maul and Revenge of the Sith-era Anakin Skywalker had been created as playable characters before the game got dumped.
What happened? We don’t know for sure why the game was never picked up, but the closure of Robomodo in 2005 was probably the final nail in the coffin.
Chances of resurrection? We’d be amazed if a Star Wars fighting game never saw the light of day. We’d expect Disney to enlist the post-reboot Mortal Kombat and Injustice developers NeatherRealm if they ever did push ahead with such a project.
In the meantime, there’s always Masters of Teräs Käsi for the PS1. There was a one-on-one dual mode in Revenge of the Sith for PS2 if we remember correctly, as well.
What was it? Fancy controlling your own Death Star battle station from the comfort of your iOS operating system? Tough, because the game Star Wars: Death Star went and got cancelled.
Other than the name, the basic premise (controlling the Death Star) and the operating system, not much else is known about this project. We do know that the ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force, though.
What happened? This gaming product never got anywhere near being fully operational, but the Disney takeover finished it off.
Chances of resurrection? Not in this solar system. However, separate project Star Wars: Tiny Death Star is available on Windows Phone, if you’re that way inclined, which boasts a similar premise and a cutesy 8-bit style (it got binned from all other types of phones, though).
What was it? Here’s one we’re not sure what to make of – among the 20 cancelled games titles revealed in 2008 book Rogue Leaders: The Story of Lucas Arts a project entitled Star Wars: Underworld was listed.
Would this have been a tie-in to the long-mooted live action Star Wars TV series (which itself was purported to have the title Underworld, too)? Or was this a precursor to the project which eventually became Star Wars 1313?
Seeing as all those projects got cancelled, we can’t offer much insight into Star Wars: Underworld the videogame other than the on-the-nose speculation that it would have involved some insights into the world underneath the Star Wars universe we know and love. The above image from a particularly shady corner of KotOR, would almost definitely not have featured.
What happened? As with a lot of titles on that list of twenty, word of this one never reached the public until it's doom, so we’d wager the idea was never at a very advanced stage.
Chances of resurrection? Save for a few levels here and there in other games, the underworld of the Star Wars universe remains a little under-explored by videogames.
We’d bet, once the dust has settled with the under-new-ownership nature of Star Wars, that a game with a title like this may yet become a reality.
Episode VII: Shadows Of The Sith
What was it? An interesting one this, and another from the list of twenty ditched titles that popped up in Rogue Leaders: The Story of Lucas Arts in 2008– were Lucasfilm plotting their own Episode VII a few years before Disney swooped in, we wonder? And was this the potential tie-in game?
Alternatively, releasing a game pertaining to be a direct continuation of the original movie trilogy (in lieu of an actual film) would have elicited an undoubtedly massive press response, and probably a huge sales spike, too. Dismissing it as non-canon would be fairly easy a few years later as well, so it’s not that surprising that a game entitled Episode VII was at one point on the cards.
That title, Shadows of the Sith, could allude to new sith lords, the reappearance of old ones or even the "Sith Shadows"– a group of thugs hired to round-up force sensitive folk for the Empire in the Expanded Universe. We’ll never know how far this game got into development, but it’s an interesting one to consider.
What happened? Again, we don’t know the details on this one. We’d hedge our bets on executives as Lucasfilm putting their foot down when the gaming team at LucasArts asked if they could use the Episode VII title, just in case they ever need it.
Chances of resurrection? There will be, we assume, a whole host of Episode VII-themed games when The Force Awakens hits our screens. However, they probably won’t resemble whatever LucasArts were plotting pre-2008 very closely.
Jedi Knight III: Brink Of Darkness
What was it? Jedi Knight was a much-loved series of games (with live action cutscenes!) that kicked off with Star Wars: Dark Forces in 1995 and lived to have four more instalments (one of which was an expansion pack) across PC, Xbox, and Gamecube. The last entry in the Jedi Knight saga was 2004’s Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy. However, there was a time when the series wouldn’t have ended there.
Among the list of twenty mysterious cancelled games that surfaced in 2008 was the tantalising titled Jedi Knight III: Brink Of Darkness. This sounds more like a straight sequel to Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast than a continuation of the absent-of-numbering Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy game, which focused on a new Jedi recruit.
It sounds to us like this game might have brought back the series’ original protagonist Kyle Katarn’s playable character status then, and possibly bridged the gap between Outcast and Academy in which Katarn went from deciding not to forsake the force and becoming a prominent master at the academy.
What happened? Not much is known about why this one got cancelled, but seeing as we only heard about it in 2008, we could assume that the success of Jedi Academy put LucasArts off the idea of backtracking and producing a sequel to Jedi Outcast.
Chances of resurrection? Like Knights of the Old Republic, there’s a slim chance Disney might choose to reignite this franchise once they’ve got their new Star Wars films up and running. Equally though, they might decide to push out into entirely new directions instead.
What was it? This one’s another proposed instalment to the aforementioned Jedi Knight saga, albeit one that would have taken the series in a new direction.
Pitched directly after the events of Revenge of the Sith, Jedi Master would have technically been a prequel to Star Wars: Dark Forces (the first instalment of the Jedi Knight saga, which took place before and after A New Hope), so it’s unclear which characters would have returned (Katarn’s mercenary years would be an interesting focus, though).
We do know a little about the themes and intended tone of the game, with elements of a survival horror game being touted. The game, set during the beginning-at-the-end-of-the-prequels Jedi purge, would presumably have seen the eponymous Jedi Master on the run in the dark and violent early days of the Empire.
What happened? Potential consumers were asked to judge the concept, as LucasArts attempted to gauge interest in a more mature Jedi Knight installment. They responded with terms like "derivative" and "gratuitous," and the game was condemned.
Chances of resurrection? Based on that potential-audience feedback, we would say this one is as dead as they get. We expect darker corners of Star Wars to be explored in gaming one day, though.
Rise of the Rebellion
What was it? Here’s another from the 2008 list of cancelled games, which we sadly don’t know much about.
While the name Rise of the Rebellion has since been given to a fan-made corner of Minecraft, and speculated as a potential subtitle for Knights of the Old Republic III among the fan fiction world, details of this game were never forthcoming, other than the fact it was planned at one point in recent-ish LucasArts history.
Our bet? That Rise of the Rebellion would have been one of the many projects touted to bridge the gap between Revenge of the Sith (where all hope seemed lost) and A New Hope (where the rebellion very much existed). We can imagine an adventure game, maybe with a stealthy ‘hide from the storm-troopers’ element existing in that time period nicely.
What happened? This one never got beyond the idea stage it would seem, with no morsels of info from LucasArts appearing very forthcoming.
Chances of resurrection? This one’s so vague that we probably wouldn’t notice even if it did return, unless it retained the same title. The between-the-trilogies gap has been plugged considerably by The Force Unleashed games and the Star Wars Rebels telly show, though.
What was it? Here’s another. With a title like Rogue Jedi, what can we guess about this game? Well, it seems likely that this game would (like the also-cancelled Jedi Master game), be based in the between-the-trilogies when the Empire were hunting down the last few Jedi. That, or perhaps a time in the Expanded Universe where Jedi were just as persecuted.
Failing that, this could also have been a Jedi-gone-bad/Jedi-on-a-vendetta game, the latter of which could have been very interesting. Of course, we will probably never know.
What happened? Again, this one never seemed to get much further than a title and a logo being designed.
Chances of resurrection? Not likely, though the idea of rogue Jedi on the run was explored fairly extensively in The Force Unleashed.
What was it? Star Wars: Vader, now who could have been the focus of that? Of course, the role co-owned by David Prowse and James Earl Jones on the big screen would have been given some breathing room here. But what would the actual concept have been?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the between-the-trilogies gap seems likely, if a little too obvious. It’s more interesting to consider where else we could fit a Vader game in the chronology of the films.
Perhaps the game was set to retell the events of the original trilogy from the perspective of the be-suited Sith lord? This would allow opportunities to play out familiar battle scenes from his point of view and also flesh out his side of the story a bit.
Did he ever attempt to break out from Palpatine’s control? Was he going off on secret missions of his own? Did he ever walk around with his helmet off just to scare people? It seems we’ll never know.
What happened? This is another that got chucked out prior to 2008, under a Bespin-like cloud of mystery.
Chances of resurrection? It’s a long shot, but not entirely out of the question. If Disney received a perfect pitch for a standalone Vader outing, we doubt they’d completely ignore it. See the first level of The Force Unleashed if you need some Vader action sooner.
What was it? Here’s an interesting one, that Games Radar managed to dig up some details on from the book The Art of Making Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
Jedi Outlaw, we’ve heard, would have been set 500 years after the events of the original trilogy, in a time where a tentative peace has been brokered between the Jedi and the Sith. In this world, they’ve created "The Council," a new galactic governing body that took the place of the Jedi Council of old. (Yes, our choice of picture is completely unrelated.)
You would have played the last descendant of Luke Skywalker, tasked with the role of sheriff to this fragile alliance. From what we’ve heard, you would have ended up on the run after being framed for a peace-shattering murder.
What happened? This one was ditched pre-2008 with those other 19 projects we keep mentioning. The 500-years-later setting was deemed unappealing to "the average Star Wars fan," we’ve heard.
Chances of resurrection? This game played a part in the inception of The Force Unleashed, but no, we wouldn’t count on a revival of the original idea.
What was it? Interestingly (depending on your definition of interesting), this one seems to have released some tie-in merchandise despite never existing. A quick Google search reveals that a "Jedi Hunter" emblazoned PS2 controller was released in 2005.
Although the Amazon description has since vanished, one product reviewer claims that said controlled offered the chance to "win saber locks with the lightsaber button," which (according to his review) wasn’t actually a feature on the controller at all. Were you meant to play a Jedi hunting other Jedi then? Or a character akin to the Inquisitor from Star Wars Rebels?
The packaging (we know we’re pushing it here…) included a picture of Darth Vader’s helmet. Could that suggest he was intended as a key character? We prefer Games Radar’s idea for a first-person-shooter spin-off for KotOR’s "meat-bag"-hating assassin droid HK-47, though.
What happened? This one disappeared with the other 19 pre-2008 projects. That nifty controller is still available though.
Chances of resurrection? From the total lack of solid info about Jedi Hunter, it seems safe to assume we won’t be seeing this one again. From that product-based super-analysis though, we reckon plot elements might have been carried into The Force Unleashed.
What was it? Prior to 2008, LucasArts were plotting a Han Solo game. That’s all we know for a fact. There’s plenty of stories from Han’s Expanded Universe biography that could have made for excellent games.
His years being raised by smuggler, bounty hunter and sort-of space pirate Garris Shrike could be interesting, for example. Or his years in the Imperial Academy. Or his first encounter with Chewie. Or unspecified smuggler adventures. Or his life after the original saga. Or just hours of playing cards with Lando. The possibilities are endless.
An Uncharted-style adventure game charting many of his finest exploits, maybe including a few familiar ones, would have been a dream for Han fans.
What happened? LucasArts shot first on this one, binning the game in 2008 before Disney ever got involved.
Chances of resurrection? Well, EA-owned company Visceral Games snared Amy Hennig (who creative-directed and wrote Uncharted) for an unspecified next-gen Star Wars game in April 2014. Could this be a Han Solo adventure? We’ll be sure to shout about it as soon as we hear anything.
What was it? Here’s our penultimate entry – another ditched idea from the pre-2008 twenty that emerged in the Rogue Leaders book, entitled Dark Jedi.
The pesky nature of the term Jedi means we can’t be sure if this one is referring to a singular dark Jedi or ruddy loads of them. Either way, there’s several directions you could take the concept of not-very-nice Jedi.
A few ideas that spring to mind are Luke Skywalker’s Expanded Universe foray into the dark side, an Anakin solo game set in his first few years as a Sith, a KotOR-esque story of a fallen knight or maybe even the historic exploits of Xendor, widely regarded as the first Jedi to go bad. Whichever way they were planning to spin it, we’re imagining lots of lightsaber battles and pretty much non-stop force lightning.
What happened? Dark Jedi was binned, like so many, before we even got to know it. Tragic.
Chances of resurrection? Again at risk of sounding like a broken record, elements of this probably seeped into The Force Unleashed, so we wouldn’t count on a new morally-questionable Jedi nabbing their own game any time soon.
The ‘Rebel’ Series
What was it? And finally, it seems only apt to finish on the wildest speculation on this list. Do you fancy being a part of the rebel alliance and a traitor? Well, in an alternate reality where LucasArts made all their projects, you might well have got your chance.
Taking up six spaces on that list of cancelled games that surfaced in 2008 was a batch of titles that were presumably intended as some kind of series or interlinking universe.
These were Rebel Agent, Rebel Fury, Rebel Warrior, Rebel Scum, and Rebel Jedi (presumably the same thing as Jedi Rebel, which also appeared on the list). Call us downright silly, but it sounds to us like LucasArts was planning a huge franchise here, focused on the years the Rebel Alliance spent fighting the empire, adding layers of detail to the original film trilogy.
To us, Rebel Agent sounds like a ground-level first person shooter, while Rebel Warrior sounds more combat-based. Rebel Jedi/Jedi Rebel, in our humble opinion, sounds tantalisingly like an action adventure title where your own Jedi wades into the Rebel cause.
Rebel Scum? Well that could only be your chance, after enjoying all the other titles in this whopping franchise, to fight from the Imperial side of the fence. Rebel Fury? No idea. Maybe something involving a rebel revenge rampage?
What happened? Arguably the most frustratingly enigmatic entry on this list, it seems no-one has ever asked LucasArts what their plan was here, and what put them off. Maybe the sheer scale of launching so many (potentially) interlinked titles turned some higher-ups off? If we ever interview anyone who used to work at LucasArts, we’ll be sure to ask.
Chances of resurrection? This one is definitely slim, but we’d certainly like to know what was being planned.
What was it?"Ragtag" starred a scoundrel named Dodger, a “cracked mirror version” of Han Solo. While Dodger was the main character, players would have controlled an entire team of rogues, including Robie, Dodger's gunslinging partner; Oona, a mob boss' daughter; and Buck, the leader of the ship's crew.
The game would have told a heist story - "Star Wars meets Ocean's Eleven,"according to Kotaku - set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The game would have also tackled "the impact of Alderaan's destruction."
"Ragtag" would have featured a multiplayer mode focused on space combat. The mode was ordered by EA, which wanted Visceral's game to hold the attention of players beyond the length of a single-player mode. Ultimately, the multiplayer mode was scrapped due to lack of resources and manpower.
What happened? The game started out as an open-world space adventure starring a "Han Solo-like rogue." In this first iteration, the project was called "Yuma."
"It was going to be some hybrid between a linear action shooter, where if you’re on the ground it’s Tomb Raider-like, but then in space it’s gonna be [Assassin's Creed:] Black Flag,” according to Kotaku's sources. The latter game allows the player to play on land or board a pirate ship to travel around the map and do battle with other ships.
“You flew your Millennium Falcon-esque ship around, boarded other ships, raided pirates, got booty, and that kind of thing," said another person familiar with the project.
A lack of resources, low team morale, and the arrival of Amy Hennig, the creative director of the first three Uncharted games, were the reasons for Visceral's shift to a linear action-adventure game. Under Hennig's leadership, the project became Uncharted in space.
Just before the game's cancellation, the studio produced three different demos of "Ragtag" to show EA's executives. The demos included an AT-ST chase scenario, a shootout on Tatooine (which provided the footage of the brief clip shown at E3 2016), and a mission into Jabba's Palace. It was after seeing these snippets of the game that EA decided to cancel the project.
Chances of resurrection? This project is dead. EA has shifted the development of a new Star Wars game to EA Vancouver, which also worked with Visceral on "Ragtag." This new game will be open-world.
We’re confident we’ve done a fairly extensive internet-trawl here, but given the never-ending potential of the Star Wars universe, we’re almost certain we’ve missed some films, TV shows and/or games that got cancelled.
If you know of a cancelled project we’ve missed, please do pop it in the comments and we’ll update when we can. Thanks!
Batman's wheels are almost as iconic as he is. But which of his Batmobiles is the finest?
Robin:“I want a car. Chicks dig the car.”
Batman:“This is why Superman works alone.”
Man, how we marvelled at the Dark Knight as he responded to Robin’s whining about wanting wheels of his own in 1997’s Batman & Robin. Yes it was the opening scene of the movie and true, we’d already experienced a higher latex-clad buttocks to screen time ratio than in your average imported specialist German exotica but still, that line… it hinted at the beginnings of a shared universe where Batman and Superman might one day occupy the same screen, sending us into raptures of possibility-flavored wonderment.
Looking back at the garish daftness that followed, that first minute of the film was probably the best bit. We’d wait another 19 years, of course, for Batman and Superman to finally unite on screen and like Batman & Robin, that was a bit of an anti-climax as well. That said, almost 20 years later, the Boy Wonder’s point still stands: chicks do dig the car. It isn’t just baby hens and comic book geeks that enjoy the stylings of Batman’s most recognizable mode of transport either; since its first appearance in the 1940s, the Caped Crusader’s ride has become the most iconic vehicle in all of popular culture.
Unlike Back To The Future’s DeLorean which was purposefully designed to be at least a little bit unsightly, or K.I.T.T., Knight Rider’s robot car that wouldn’t last five minutes in this hack-filled Mr. Robotworld, the Batmobile has always represented the perfect blend of vehicular form and function.
Well, mostly perfect anyway. Batman hasn’t always got it right down the years, the Batmobile in the aforementioned Batman & Robin being an example. With its unshielded, open cockpit, Bats’ ride not only left his head horribly exposed to snipers, debris and terrible Arnold Schwarzenegger jokes, but the fuselage vents exposing the neon-shaded engine components made it look like the kind of car that Ozzy Osbourne might roll up in if he was making an appearance on a Fast And The Furious-themed episode of WackyRaces.
Let's give Batman a break though. After all, he's a busy guy. Let's stick to the positives and examine the six greatest Batmobiles to have graced both page and screen.
6. The BatQuitely
So it was inevitable, right? This list had to feature at least one flying Batmobile. I can already hear the howls of indignation that the Batman Beyond iteration isn’t featured here instead but honestly, that flying car was so advanced (Mach Three, anyone?) that it wasn’t really a car anymore. This one however (in spite of its flight capability), very much is. It also features on here as it’s also the only Batmobile on this list to be built by a child (and yet it isn’t colored like a rainbow, festooned with unicorn horns and made entirely out of chocolate).
In Bruce Wayne’s absence from Gotham following the events of Batman R.I.P. - the mantle of the Bat is taken up by Dick Grayson with Bruce’s son, Damian as the Boy Wonder. Damian uses his father’s plans to construct a Batmobile that reflects the uneven nature of the new Dynamic Duo: it lacked the muscular, aggressive styling of previous incarnations but proved itself more than able in the heat of battle on several occasions. It also raised the question of why Chris O’Donnell didn’t just build a car for himself in Batman & Robin if he was so enamoured by Batman’s wheels.
O’Donnell was 27 when he played the ‘Boy’ Wonder; the character of Damian Wayne was around ten when he built his first Batmobile. And it could fly. Frankly, if O’Donnell represented the calibre of sidekick in Schumacher’s Bat-verse, it was little wonder that Superman chose to work alone.
Scoring extra points for its Bat-shaped cockpit and for continuing a cool comic book tradition of red internal cockpit lighting, this was a unique aesthetic take on the Batmobile for what proved to be a very unique partnership. Boasting homing missiles and transforming fins that locked into flight position (like something out of M.A.S.K.) this car was certainly an different spin on the classic design. Did I mention it was built by a ten year old?
5. The BatBreyfogle
The '90s were a strange time in comics. The boom/bust period hit its peak as Marvel and DC killed off and resurrected their A-list heroes in a market-destroying cycle of rampant commercialism. Mullets were cool (even Superman had one for a while) and there were pouches… endless amounts of pouches. Of course you couldn’t really stick pouches and a ridiculous haircut on a Batmobile, and yet this comic book incarnation was still very much a product of its era.
With its ultra-sleek design, accentuated by the canopy’s seamless integration into the dynamic lines of the hood, the vehicle was somewhat reminiscent of the Lamborghini Countach, a design aesthetic further emphasised by the boxy, side-mounted air intakes at the cockpit’s rear. Looks aside, from a practical standpoint, this was an excellent vehicle to fight crime with too: the fully-housed wheels meant nobody was shooting out your tires whilst the wraparound cockpit offered excellent visibility. Also, this Batmobile’s relatively compact styling meant that parking in a multi-stories wouldn't be an issue, although generally, in spite of what it must have added to his insurance premium, Batman tended to stick with moodily-lit alleys because of his unhealthy obsession with all things shadowy.
The eye-shaped headlights and rear fins made the whole ensemble look like a demonic bat had mated with a vehicle from Tron. As designs go, it was pretty much flawless, as evidenced by the fact that when Jean Paul Valley took the Mantle of the Bat from Bruce Wayne in the epic Knightfall saga, he developed virtually every aspect of the Batsuit, but Breyogle’s Batmobile? He didn’t touch a single wheel nut.
4. The BatBarris
The Batmobile has always been emblematic of the time of its construction. If 1986’s The Dark Knight Returns’ tank was a symbol of a paranoid America bunkering itself away against a possible nuclear conflict with the then-USSR, then the iconic ’66 Batmobile, a born cruiser with its open roof and fetching looks was a car for a simpler, sunnier time. Designed by John Barris on just a few week’s notice for the hit TV show, this car was more than just a looker too: with its on-board phone and integrated computer, dash-mounted screen and rear-facing camera the vehicle was actually a pretty accurate approximation of what cars would look like fifty years in the future… apart from the atomic engine of course, which pretty much made the car a mobile-nuke-in-waiting.
Despite being a continent-wide extinction-level event on wheels, everyone seemed pretty pleased when the Batmobile rolled by, in part due to what a great looking ride it was. Like any car from Batman’s fleet, the Barrismobile was also capable of a trick or two: quick-turning mechanisms, anti-pursuit measures, a battering ram, the list goes on. While not quite the Tumbler in the aggression stakes, this car was certainly no slouch and more than a match for the foes of its day. If looks alone were the sole arbiter of this list then the ’66 Batmobile would finish first by a clear nose. However, with the atomic engine being something of a danger to the entire Western seaboard and another example of the clearly-irresponsible open cockpit design, one of Bats’ best looking rides can only race home in fourth.
3. The BatTimm
If we were giving out awards for style then this Batmobile from The Animated Series would surely be top of the heap. In the wake of Batman’s success on the silver screen (thanks to Tim Burton and his early '90s gothic reimagining of the Dark Knight), Bruce Timm, Paul Dino and the rest of the creative team behind this much beloved show were awarded creative license to give Batman a makeover. While The Animated Series retained some of the gothic stylings of the movies and the anachronistic period dress, in came a grand, sweeping art deco style, reflected in the architecture, the aesthetic… and the Batmobile.
Like other elements of the series (such as Catwoman having blonde hair in a little nod to Michelle Pfieffer’s Selina Kyle), the show took cues from the movies before adding its own dash of inimitable style. The Batmobile was no exception either. It was long, lean and built around a turbine engine much like the car from Burton’s movies; with a sleek, streamlined hood that seemed to go on forever and the front axle placed even closer to the car’s grille than its cinematic counterpart, this Batmobile’s wheelbase was absurdly long.
And yet it worked beautifully. Owning the road like no other car on this list, The Animated Series' Batmobile looked like the kind of wheels a head of state should be cruising the roads of his city in, if that head of state had a fixation on bats and vigilante justice, which of course, Batman does. This Batmobile had it going on underneath that long, long hood as well. Not having to worry too much about real-world physics, the car’s designers crammed it full of cool Bat-technology: reversible jet exhausts, missile launchers, grappling hooks and all sorts of anti-pursuit toys made this iteration of Bats’ ride a force to be reckoned with. It even got an episode centered around it too: The Mechanic explored how the Batmobile came to be, answering that age old question: Where does he get those wonderful toys?
2. The Tumbler
No Batmobile in the title here because as you’re no doubt aware, this beast of a vehicle was never actually christened with such a title. Avoiding anything even remotely hokey from this vehicle’s design (including the name ‘Batmobile’), the Tumbler is the one entry this list that sacrifices eye-pleasing form in the sole pursuit of function.
Ironically enough, it was this focused design principle that has made the vehicle so popular to Batmobile buffs. Lacking rear fins, grille-mounted bat heads or any of the other aesthetic accoutrements that we’ve become used to down the years, the Tumbler was all mean: a 5.7 litre Chevy engine boasting over 400 bhp; a propane-fuelled jet engine that allowed it to make rampless jumps and enough armor plating to cruise this old jalopy through South Central L.A. draped in gang colors and not even sweat it. Black was the order of the day here though, (the only real concession to the Batmobiles of Batman’s past) although it did come in a nifty camouflage flavour too as we saw in Rises when Bane commandeered one for himself.
And what of gadgets? No self-respecting Batmobile could hope to feature so high on this list without holding a few aces up its sleeve and the Tumbler didn’t disappoint: auto cannons, rocket launcher, the aforementioned rampless jump system, a super-cool ‘stealth’ mode that Batman used to great effect to evade the police in Begins and of course a concealed getaway vehicle in the case of catastrophic damage as we saw in The Dark Knight. It’s been said before that Nolan’s films are a post-9/11 reimagining of the Caped Crusader, and the no-frills Tumbler was the clearest representation of a Batman that was all about getting business done in a world without rules.
It wasn’t the first time that the World’s Greatest Detective had modified a tank for his purposes: Arkham Knight is a key example as is 1986’s The Dark Knight Returns (although he kind of negated its purpose by getting out to fight the mutant leader face to face,) although the Tumbler was certainly the best in-class when it came to armoured transport. As such, this iconic ride wins the award for best repurposed military technology and places high on this list.
1. The BatFurst
The only Batmobile on the list to have won an Oscar races home in pole position, winning by a beautifully-sculpted nose. The long, sleek lines on this gothic hellhound were designed by Anton Furst, who scooped the Academy Award for his art production on Tim Burton’s dark and fantastical Batman. He sadly passed away in 1991 but prior to that he was unable to work on the series’ second instalment due to contractual obligations. It’s pretty telling that despite something of a redesign for the city itself (at the request of the studio, Gotham was subtly altered in Batman Returns to make it seem less oppressive), Bo Welch, the lead designer on the sequel left the Batmobile well alone. Yes, a redesign might have sold more toys (as evidenced by stylistic decisions in the subsequent movies) but toys do not a good Batmobile make. Go look at Batman Forever and Batman & Robin if you doubt the truthfulness of that statement.
Furst described his Batmobile as "a knight in armor", and as a crime-fighting ‘war machine’ it made for one hell of a steed. Practical it wasn’t, but when you have a car which is essentially bodywork housed atop an aviation jet turbine, who really cares? "Pure expressionism" was another way in which Furst described his creation and with its impractical length, ridiculously lowered suspension and insane propulsion system he was right. This Batmobile was as much a part of the gothic hellscape, whose streets it snarled along as the Batman himself. With Browning machine guns, plastic explosive, grappling-hook turn systems and a tamper-proof cocoon system, it had the necessary gadgets to survive the mean streets of Gotham. As such, it represents the prefect blend of form and function and takes its place atop the podium as the greatest Batmobile of all time.
I just wish I could find one on Auto Trader.
The Best of the Rest:
So, with the champagne sufficiently sprayed and the garlanded winners herded off to a media suite to face a series of banal questions, which of Bats’ legendary rides were left to sob, alone in the abandoned pit lane, and more importantly, why?
Truth be told, I flipped-flopped on Synder’s Batmobile so many times throughout the writing of this article that taking it out once more makes me feel like I’m in some Ouspenky-style time loop like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. It’s a cool amalgamation of past Batmobiles while being something new entirely: put it on the list! It’s a mobile murder machine that undermines everything that the Batman character is supposed to be: take it off the list! It looks kind of cool, if not in a slightly try-hard way: put it back on the list! The Batmobile from the Arkham games is way better: take it off the list!
Ultimately, I took it off the list permanently for similar reasons to the Arkham Batmobile. Although I might be in the minority at Den of Geek on this one, the car-to-tank conversion in that game felt just a little bit too much like a Transformers game and the wanton death and destruction that Snyder and Rocksteady dealt out with their Batmobiles strayed too far from the character’s core. In the case of Arkham Knight, the rock ‘em, sock ‘em Batmobile also created an imbalance in the game, negating the stealth and wits approach of the first two Arkham titles and ultimately hurting the game’s character as well as the gameplay balance too.
Others that almost made the grade were the aforementioned Batman Beyond iteration of the Batmobile, The Brave And The Bold’s sleek, multi-era hybrid and the New 52 ride from Court Of Owls which is a beautiful-looking car. Finally, Neal Adam’s understated design deserves an honorable mention. The plainest-looking Batmobile of the bunch still had it where it counted but allowed the Dark Knight to operate without fanfare in the grittier, more realistic climes of seventies-era Gotham. Beyond the sparse, concealed gadgets though, the car looked like a fairly stock Corvette. Which of course, begs the question: Why didn't Chris O’Donnell just build himself one of those?
For longtime Superman fans, Christopher Reeve is the one true big screen Man of Steel. Here's what he would have looked like in the DCEU.
Christopher Reeve is the definitive big screen Superman for many comic book fans growing up in the late '70s and into the '80s. Whatever you might think about the later installments in his series of Superman movies, the charismatic actor's performance in the 1978 original is still lauded by many as the best adaptation of the Man of Steel ever.
While the actor wore the red and blue tights for the final time in 1987 and passed away in 2004, he's certainly not been forgotten. His likeness has even been used in later Superman comics, particularly those drawn by Gary Frank.
The torch has been passed on since the Reeve movies, of course - first to Brandon Routh and then to Henry Cavill, who remains the incumbent after three appearances in the DC Extended Universe. His turns in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Justice League have enjoyed a warm reception for the most part (depending on which installment we're talking about), and he's contracted for one more DC movie so we're likely to see him for one last outing. Beyond that, we'll just have to see. With Ben Affleck rumored to be leaving in a coming installment, much of the DCEU seems to be in flux, especially from within DC Films, which has recently seen some major changes in leadership.
This seems to be the perfect time to begin fancasting the next actors to play Batman and Superman. One fan in particular, YouTuber and animator Mike Habjan, has imagined what it would be like to see Reeve as the DCEU's Superman. While experimenting with different models for his excellent "Superman vs. Hulk" videos, which he created using 3D animation software Maya, he played around with an animated version of Reeve in Cavill's Man of Steel suit.
Here's a short demo of the experiment:
There's no doubt that Habjan's animation is really impressive. It's surreal to see a Superman approximating Reeve's iconic look, but it's also heartwarming. That said, Habjan's Man of Steel Reeve has a bit more of a scowl than what we remember from the original films, not to mention that he's also way more JACKED than the actor ever was in the tights. Still, it's very nice to imagine Reeve back to hang with the entire Justice League. Perhaps Doomsday Clock, a comic about Superman and other DC characters meeting heroes from the Watchmen universe, which is currently being drawn by Gary Frank, will give us just that.