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    We talked to Hugo Award-winning author John Scalzi about his new science fiction thriller Head On & his role in the sci-fi community.

    InterviewKayti Burt
    Apr 20, 2018

    John Scalzi is a creator who lives and breathes science fiction.

    The former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a Hugo Award winner for his 2013 novel Red Shirts, and a former creative consultant on Stargate Universe, Scalzi has probably influenced some of the science fiction you've consumed in the last decade, even if you're not actively a fan.

    Scalzi just released Head On, the second standalone novel in the same universe as his science fiction thriller Lock In. Both novels are set in a world that has been forever changed by something called the Haden's syndrome, a pandemic that left one percent of the surviving population locked inside of their own bodies. These people, known as Hadens, interact with the world using android bodies known as threeps.

    Head On follows FBI agent Chris Shane, a Haden tasked with solving the Haden-related murder of a Hilketa player. Hilketa is a violent, football-like sport in which threeps try to rip the head off of one of the opposing team's players. 

    Lock In and Head On are great reads that explore issues of gender and disability through a thrilling science fiction lens. Den of Geek was lucky enough to talk to Scalzi about the world he has created for Head On, how his own online interactions shape the digital landscapes within the novels, and how he sees his role in the larger science fiction community.

    Den of Geek: Just to start, I'd love for you to give just a brief overview of what Head On is about, maybe, for those who haven't read Lock In, or who aren't familiar with the world.

    John: Okay. Well, Head On is a sequel to Lock In, although it's written as a stand-alone, which means that you don't have to have read the first book to follow it. In this world, 1% of the population has been afflicted with a syndrome called Haden Syndrome, which locks them into their body, although their brains are still functioning perfectly fine. There's been a technological drive to help them communicate with the world, which has led to things like neural nets inside of their brains and a special online universe called the agora, where they can congregate and live their lives, and also to develop into threeps, which are android bodies that the folks with Hadens drive around in the world.

    When you talk about it, the first time you think about it, it's kind of amazing and would be like, oh my gosh, Bob is an android body now. Then, 25 years later, which is when all this takes place, nobody cares because they're just so used to threeps being part of the world.

    Now, when you are building a world that has 1% of the population walking around in android bodies, there's going to be some subtle changes and some ways that the threeps are incorporated into everyday life. One of them is a sport called hilketa, which is a Basque word, which means murder. The idea of hilketa, basically, is a sport team like football, but instead of a football, what happens is one team runs across the field, tries to rip the head off of an opposing team player and then carry it back towards the goal.

    Now, obviously, you could never have this happen with folks who are not afflicted with Hadens because ripping somebody's head off would kill them, but because the Hadens are playing the game with threep bodies, they are not affected. It's a modestly violent game, where people get heads ripped off and they attack each other with swords and hammers.

    It's all good fun and nobody gets hurt until, of course, somebody does and a player dies because of actions on the field. That's when our main characters, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, who are FBI agents, and Chris is also a Haden. Dig in to find out what's really going on.

    Did you always know that you were going to tell another story in this world, or that you wanted to? Or, after you finished the first book, were still inspired by this world?

    Well, no, what happened was that the first one sold really well so I wrote a sequel. It sounds really cold and bloodless when you put it like that, but one of the things that's absolutely true, particularly about science fiction and fantasy, is we are a market-driven genre, so things that are successful, they want more of.

    Now, the thing that made me happy was that there was enough, in terms of sales and interest and people responding to it, that there was space for a sequel. When you develop a near future world like this, you actually have to do a lot of work to make it seem realistic. I spent a huge amount of time doing world building so that it made sense.

    I spent all this time creating aspects of the universe that never made it into the first book. That included this game, hilketa. I had created it just simply as I was building out the rest of the world. Like, what would a game that only had Haden players and threeps be like? I was like, "Well, they'd rip each other's head off because they could." It was really cool. I had developed this whole sport and there was no place in the first book to put it. It just was ... there was no space because I had to do a murder mystery.

    I had this really cool sport and this really cool idea among a whole bunch of other stuff I'd built just for my own information. When they said, "We'd like to have a sequel," I was like, "Cool, because I have just the thing." The short answer was, I wasn't planning to write the sequel when the first book came out but when they said there would be a sequel, I was ready to go.

    Yeah, and it seems like there could be some parallels drawn between this sport this discussion we're having right now about football and head injuries. Is that a leap, or is that something that influenced where this was coming from?

    It's not a one-to-one, to be sure, but it is often the case where when you have a sport and you are talking about athletes and you are talking about the wear and tear that they put on their bodies, even in this particular case, where the athletes are humans that are not actually on the field, they're just driving machines that are on the field. Nevertheless, the mental exertion, and the acuity, and all that stuff, there's a lot of stress to it. There are going to be parallels between what's going on in the real world in talking about damage and talking about injury and talking about players doing whatever they can to keep playing. That definitely plays a role.

    It's not a one to one but it's very definitely evocative, which is what you want to do because science fiction works pretty much to the extent that a person who is reading it can kind of put themselves in that situation. Someone who is reading about hilketa is going to imagine what's going on in the sports world today. They're going to see the parallels and they're going to make their understanding kind of fit into what they already know. Like I said, it's the responsible extrapolation forward. Definitely issues that affect the sports world, not just football, baseball, basketball, all these popular sports, are going to be things that get touched on with the sport of hilketa in Head On.

    One of the things I really wanted to talk about was your device of not identifying specifically Chris Shane's gender in either novel. Can you talk about where that decision came from?

    It came from when I was first imagining the world, and I was thinking about who the protagonist would be and who they would be and what they would be like. It came to me that in this particular case I would not have to choose between male or female because the main character was going to present to the world, basically, through a threep, through a machine. The machine doesn't have to be gendered one way or the other. If a threep comes up to you, unless by design it shows that the person driving it is male or female, or whatever, you're just not going to know. You're going to approach them in a different way than you would if you 100% knew what their gender was.

    Knowing that as a fact of the world, I just decided the main character, I'm not going to find out what their gender is, which is not to say Chris might not have a gender. Chris may be a he, Chris may be she, Chris may decide that gender doesn't apply, or could be gender fluid and somewhere on the spectrum. The point is that I, as the writer, don't know because I haven't asked Chris and Chris hasn't volunteered that particular information to me. Having done that, it's like, okay, now how do we build that into the world and how do we make it fly without being super... I would think the best way to put it, how to do it without making it completely in somebody's face?

    That's the whole point, the gender issue isn't in somebody's face unless they decide to make it so. When I was writing it, I just wrote it with that presumption. When I sent it off, Lock In, I sent it off to the editor and I hadn't told the editor that that was going to be the case. My editor got back to me after he read the manuscript and I said, "What do you think of Chris?" He was like, "[inaudible 00:10:40]. I like the way that he has banter back and forth with Leslie Vann," and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I was like, "Why do you think Chris is a he?" He was silent for a minute and he's like, "You bastard."

    That's the point, which is for the first book. The only person who knew prior to the book coming out that Chris was not gendered were the folks at Audible because I specifically told Steve over at Audible that this one should probably have two narrators, which they did and which they're doing for Head On, with Wil Wheaton and Amber Benson. I explained why. He was literally the only person who knew. When we sent it out for reviewers, we didn't tell the reviewers. When we published it, we didn't say anything about it. We let people find it for themselves. Once they did find it for themselves, then there was a whole lot of discussion about what we did and what it meant, and all that sort of stuff.

    For the second book, we're talking about it more openly because it's, obviously, you can't do the same trick twice, so to speak. It's been interesting to see what the response is because, again, Head On is written as a stand-alone so there will be, even though we're talking about it now, there will still be people who come to it not knowing that Chris isn't gendered. They will come in with their own default setting of who Chris is. I think that's fascinating.

    Yeah, me too. It was your idea to have two separate narrators for the first audio book?

    Well, I suggested it to Audible and then it was up to Audible to decide whether or not it made sense for them. One of the things that I do like about working with Audible has been to date when I come to them with kind of a wacky idea like this, they don't immediately shut it down. They're like, "Well, let's look at this, let's see if it works." When I told Steve about how I thought they should consider doing two narrators for it, his response was, "That's interesting." Can it be done? Can it be done in a way that makes sense? Can it be done in a way that doesn't make folks feel like they're being kind of like yanked around?

    It's cool to have two narrators but you also want to make sure that, from a commercial point of view, that whichever narrator that you get, one, you get a satisfying experience, which we obviously took care of because both Wil and Amber are fabulous narrators. The other thing is that not only that but if they then look the other narrator, if they've listened to Wil and then decide to listen to Amber, or vice versa, that there's enough distinction in the delivery that it makes it worthwhile to hear basically the same story twice told through a different perspective.

    Like I said, as a writer, just the fact that we get to do this, and that Wil and Amber have been onboard with it and have their own interpretations, and that they just both nailed it, is really kind of a great thing.

    Digging into that a little bit more, voice performance and audio book narration is not something that people necessarily talk a lot about but, obviously, it is a performance. Different actors bring different things to their presentation. What do Wil and Amber bring? What are their, I don't want to say strengths or weaknesses, but what are their individual, yeah, quirks that kind of add to their individual performances?

    One of the things, and this is a highly personal thing with relation to Wil, Wil and I are about the same age. He's a couple years younger. We both grew up in the same area. We both grew up in southern California and we both know each other. If you ever listen to the two of us in conversation—he and I are going to be doing a presentation at the LA Times Festival of Books on the 22nd, I think, of April, we're just going to have a conversation between the two of us—if you listen to the two of us, you realize that our cadence and the way that we express ourselves is extraordinarily similar.

    In that sort of case, with Wil, Wil is as close to me narrating my own book as it's going to get. He's better, because he's a professional actor and I am just this mush-mouthed guy who happens to write books. In that sort of sense, what I really like about Wil is that so many of his choices, because we have so many similarities in both age and outlook and perspective, and love of science fiction, for example, so many of his choices would be the choices that I would make. For me, in many ways, Wil is very close to what's actually in my head.

    Now, that said, it's not to say that what's in my head is always the best or most interesting choice. That's one of the reasons that I love Amber. Amber is equally trained and precision an actor as Wil is, but her choices are different. Her perspective on who Chris is and who the other characters in that world are is sufficiently different from what I have in my own head that when I listen to her, I feel like she's revealing parts of my own universe that I hadn't seen before. That is, for me, what some of the best audio narration can do. The actor, or the narrator, just adds something else that you weren't anticipating.

    It's happened before. I have been very fortunate with my narrators. I had William Dufris for the Old Man's War book, Tavia Gilbert, who did Zoe's Tale. That's another perfect example. Tavia Gilbert did Zoe's Tale, which was written from the perspective of a 16-year-old girl. Her performance of it really deepened my love of my own character. Now, whenever I hear Zoe Boutin Perry, the main character of Zoe's Tale, in my head, I hear Tavia Gilbert's voice, which is kind of an accomplishment.

    That's what I love about Amber, is she takes my work and she gives me new perspective. Wil validates the perspective I already had. Amber gives me new perspective. Both of those are very important for me as a writer, and someone who is listening to somebody's take on his own material.

    Has Lock In been translated into other languages?

    We've got German, I think we've got Japanese, we've got French ... It's in five or six languages now and it keeps picking up on additional ones as we go on.

    Was that process of translating it, because of the non-gender thing, did that add some complications, or clarifications that you had to make because different languages have different constructions, especially when it comes to gender?

    Oh yeah, absolutely. The thing that's really interesting is that a lot of it depends on who's translating. There are some translators who ask for a lot of information, and then there are others who don't.

    The thing is that you're working within, as you know, the matrix of a language and what is grammatically correct and what's not, and what can be achieved and what can't. Now, one of the things is, obviously, when we sold the books in different languages, we let them know Chris' gender is not revealed in the book. A lot of times you kind of ended at that. We'd be like, "This is a fact, have fun." Occasionally someone would get back to us and say, "Well, what does that mean? How do you want us to handle it?"

    I think that it makes for a challenge for folks who are translating because translation, as I understand it, is not just about recreating word for word whatever it is that the original writer did because so often idiom doesn't translate, or whatever. It's also about recreating the feel of it, as much as anything else. They have to make a lot of choices on their own and you, as the writer, have to trust that they made good decisions. Now, Lock In's been well received in other languages so far so, as far as it goes, I think that they're generally making the right decisions.

    Cool. You already mentioned that in this world the Hadens interact with one another through this online community or world. I'm curious, as someone who's been active on the internet for a while, how your own experiences online informed the writing of that part of your fictional world?

    Oh, absolutely. The thing is that I think the Haden approach is different in many ways from the non-Haden approach. The non-Haden approach, which I would base on the approach that most of us have, is that the internet is still kind of a third place. It's not quote, unquote real. What happens is, the relationships that people have there are affected by the fact that it's in that other medium. That's why, for example, people get into arguments so much more easily on the internet than they do in real life, quote, unquote real life. There's a dis-inhibition because you don't have that person directly in front of you.

    Whereas, for a Haden, the agora, the online life, is 100% as real, if not more so, than what we would call our real world, or neat space, however you want to define it. Their initial connection to other Hadens is through this highly advanced online world. The dynamic there for them is going to be a lot different and, in fact, might even, to a great extent, be reversed from the dynamic that non-Hadens would have. I think that's really interesting. The thing is that in the course of the time that I've been online, which of course is more than 20 years now, it has gone from being this sort of nerd outpost where people with technical skill or just obsessiveness spend there time in kind of a disreputable fashion to the place where, literally, everybody is on.

    My aunts, who are 80 or 90 years old, are on the internet now. I keep track of everybody I went to high school with in the '80s through Facebook. I live out in the middle of nowhere in a small rural town in Ohio and a lot of the day-to-day conversation I have with my peer group is through Twitter. The blending of real world with online world has been significant, and gets more so every year. Enough now, obviously, that now we are beginning to confront the realities of it.

    We had an election that was directly influenced by actors on the internet. We have people who have developed friendships and relationships of lasting significance never having met face to face. The lines are getting blurrier and blurrier and will continue to do so. Obviously, I extrapolate from that for what's going on in the world of Lock In and Head On, which takes place 30, 40 years in the future.

    Not totally unrelated to your online presence and the role that plays in the science fiction community, you're someone who has a certain amount of pull and privilege in the science fiction writing world, and who I think of as using that power to support underrepresented voices. I'm just curious, in a general sense, how you see your role in the science fiction community, and if that's changed over the course of your career so far.

    Well, I wasn't always me, which is kind of an indelicate way of putting it. One of the things that's been interesting is I came into the science fiction community actually around 2005, so it wasn't as long as I think a lot of people think. I don't know, my thoughts about representation in science fiction and fantasy kind of mirror my feelings about representation in a general sense, which is more is better and there's no reason why the table can't be expanded.

    Now, what's been interesting is that so much of my learning has been on the job, so to speak. I am not the same personal writer, in terms of awareness of issues surrounding representation as I was in 2005. A dozen years ago I knew relatively less about the science fiction fantasy community and what its concerns were. Also, the number of people I knew as writers, much less writers of color or writers in marginalized communities, was much lower. I was intellectually all for, yay, go representation but the actual real world application of that and what it meant is something that I've had to learn as I go along.

    The only reason that I think I've actually managed to do that without showing my ass on a regular basis is that one of the things that I figured out is that one's ego should not be centered on being right all the time. Instead, one's ego should be centered on correct action and correct understanding. Which means that when I'm wrong, which turns out happens frequently, the question is not how do I manage to make this look like I was right the entire time, which I think is a traditional response for a lot of people in my position, but how do I incorporate this new information so that I don't make the same mistakes going forward.

    A shorter version of that is I don't want to screw up the same way twice. That's been important for me. The other thing is, quite frankly, the longer I've been going along, not just in science fiction and fantasy but life in general, the more I see and the more I recognize that I get a lot of breaks and that they're unearned breaks, because I am white, because I am straight, because I am male. Now, I have a lot of money. I look at the, as you say, I look at the privilege that I have and part of me is, of course that's great, it's great for me, it makes my life a whole lot easier. The question then becomes, what can I do to make sure that the breaks and privileges, and everything else that I've gotten, are accessible to other people?

    This is where I think a lot of white, straight males, and people with a lot of privilege in the first place, tend to freak out a bit. When they look at privilege, or they look at opportunity, they look at any of that sort of stuff, they see it as kind of a zero sum game, which is: some people have it, some people don't. If you give it to other people, then you have to have less of it and then you'll be eaten by the wolves. I think that's really the way that a lot of people see it. It's like there has to be winners and there has to be losers. It sucks for other people that I'm in the winner class but, by god, I don't want to be a loser so thump, thump, thump, thump. Sometimes, not intentionally, but sometimes quite intentionally, they work to preserve their place.

    I don't think it's a zero sum game. I do not think I will lose anything by working so that other people have opportunities like I've had opportunities, that have advancement the way that I've had advancement, that have the opportunity for luck, for example, that I have. I've been extraordinarily lucky. I also recognize that part of the luck that I've had is based on the fact of who I am and what I am in this particular society.

    It's one of those things where that just make sense to me. I am not threatened by the idea of other people with different experiences and different lives and different perspectives having the same level of opportunity and success that I have. It's not going to injure me. Yeah, that's part of my gig, is to try to, on a daily basis, exemplify that ethos that is in my head and I know is something that is morally correct. That is, to get back to that, centered on correct action.

    I don't want to make is sound like, "Here's John Scalzi, he's doing what he can." Quite honestly, you can do a lot with very little effort. This is the thing that gets me. It's like, link to people who are saying important things. Support the people who are speaking out. Stand with, not in front of.

    You can follow John Scalzi via Twitter or his blog Whatever. Head On is now available to buy as a hardcover book or as an Audible book.


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    Author Jonathan Ames on creating his dark novella, working with Joaquin Phoenix, Bored to Death and more...

    Interview Don Kaye
    Apr 20, 2018

    Easily one of the best movies of the year so far, You Were Never Really Here stars Joaquin Phoenix as an ex-FBI agent and military man named Joe who now works at finding and rescuing young children that are kidnapped and forced into sex trafficking. Joe's own experiences as both a child and adult have turned him into a deeply damaged avenging angel, capable of both ruthless violence and great tenderness. But even he may not be able to survive a case that brings him face to face with a horrifying, wide-ranging conspiracy.

    The movie, directed by Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) and featuring a stunning lead performance by Phoenix, is based on a novella by Jonathan Ames, whose many years writing comedy for the stage and TV are a jarring counterpoint to the darkness of this story.

    Before this, Ames is probably best known as the creator of HBO's Bored to Death, which starred Jason Schwartzman as a would-be private detective, and the Starz series Blunt Talk, which featured Patrick Stewart as an out-of-control cable news journalist.

    With You Were Never Really Here expanding into more theaters today (and please see this movie if you can), Den of Geek recently had the chance to speak with Ames about the creation of the book, the character and the movie, his thoughts on his two TV shows and which medium he enjoys writing in the most.

    Den of Geek: This novella was certainly very different from the kind of stuff you've done before. Can you talk about how it came to you?

    Jonathan Ames: Well, I've always had a fascination for private detective novels, which very much led to my TV show Bored to Death, in which a character has read so much Raymond Chandler that he thinks he can be a private detective, like Philip Marlowe.

    The first version of this that I wrote was in 2012 and I got commissioned by this website, Byliner, to write something, a long piece of fiction. I thought, you know what, I want to write a thriller. I want to write something that's not comedic. I want to write a page turner. And, so that's what I did and it was a fun new form to try. For years, I've written comedic novels, comedic essays, comedic TV shows, and so I published it as an ebook. It then came out as a small book, like a little crime novel, and this French film producer read the book in French, and then got an English translation, and it also came out in England and she got it to Lynne Ramsay. And then, Lynne wanted to make it, and away we went.

    I did expand upon the original version, so the book that's out now from Vintage has, like, 20 additional pages. I sort of fleshed out some things towards the end of the book. And I'm now working on a sequel to the book, continuing in this kind of hard-boiled page-turner style.

    Joe is very much a modern spin on that kind of hard-boiled character. Where did he come from?

    He came from my own fractured psyche. I loved to make him a tormented, avenging angel who's not entirely sane because of everything he's been through in his life. He was a metaphor for where I was at that time in my life when I first began writing the book. As I write in him now, I can still get into the skin of this character because he is also operating in this very bleak and dark landscape which is, you know, a lot of modern America is in a very shadowy time. So he's kind of like the character of where we are as a nation and as a planet, for me anyway, to express my concerns for the world through this man. It was like me looking in a broken mirror.

    Were you familiar with Lynne's three previous films before getting involved?

    I was not. Once I heard she was involved, her films were sent to me and I loved them. She and I were then corresponded for the next two years about the script. She would send me drafts and I would give her my thoughts and notes. I really enjoy her films and did express that this book was a departure for me because I kind of saw it as a page-turner, and I wanted the film to have a similar feeling. That somehow, it'd be a blend of her great arthouse cinema skills while also being something that's like you're just on the edge of your seat; you're on a ride. And she agreed.

    Would you say it's unusual to have a collaboration like that between author and filmmaker?

    I guess I would say it was unusual. It may be because I have also established myself as a script writer. I've written five seasons of television. I also think it was reassuring for her to be in touch with me, who wrote the original material and kind of loved the genre. And I am a producer on the film, so I was pretty closely involved. I came to the set, I met with everybody before they started shooting. I don't know about unusual or usual, but that was my experience.

    Seeing Joaquin in the role, did he sort of embody Joe the way you saw him in your mind, and does seeing him in the part impact your own image of Joe for future stories?

    Well, I'm already about halfway through the sequel, and I still see the guy in my mind because anyone who writes fiction, you see a movie in your head that you're trying to get down into sentences and paragraphs for the readers. So I still see the guy I created who's his own sort of mythic creature who probably, in some ways, looks a little like myself.

    Joaquin made him his own unique force of nature. I mean, Joaquin's performing is stunning and brilliant and totally natural and subtle, and the movie is this own work of art. What you experience reading a book and what you experience seeing film are two different things, so I absolutely loved his performance and I love what Lynne did. I mean, I think they're two genius artists and I'm very lucky to have collaborated with them.

    What format do you enjoy the most, novels, teleplays or something else?

    Ultimately, I would say in terms of pleasure and freedom, writing novels is the most enjoyable because you're not dealing with networks and a lot of people commenting of your writing and not having to please scores of people to get something approved. I've gotten to write stuff that I really want to write in TV, but I still have to please people. And then there's also the constraints of production. You can't get to write an elaborate scene if you don't have the money to film it, you know? You can write whatever you want in a book. The budget is unlimited, except that you're not paid well for novels as you are for TV. But that's the beauty of novels, when the budget of your imagination is unlimited.

    If you had to recap the experiences you've had on TV with the two shows that you created, how would you sum those up?

    Both experiences were amazing. I mean, like, getting Bored to Death was like winning the lottery. It was like, "Holy shit!" It's like starving, struggling, jobless, got a TV show. You know, I did a lot of work to get to that moment, and then I have to work on the fly 'cause I just had never been a showrunner before, and the learning curve was huge, but exciting, and a lot of stress of course. And then I made all these wonderful friends. And then that got canceled, and then it's like, "Oh, shoot, I have all this knowledge now on how to do things." And you don't know if you're going to get another shot, you know? Not everyone's Norman Lear.

    But I did get another shot with Blunt Talk, and again, it was another fantastic experience, and then I could use all I had learned on Bored to Death. And again, in both cases, between the crew and actors and the writing staff and the directors, a family formed both times. I mean, you work together so much. So yeah, I feel very grateful for my five years in television.

    Would you want to continue Bored to Death as a movie or even a book?

    There was talk for years of a Bored to Death movie, which I think is looking like it won't happen. Too much time has passed. But I had thought of rebooting it perhaps as a book because Bored to Death was originally based on a short story I wrote. So I've been toying with that idea, and I shouldn't talk about it too much 'cause then I won't do it. You know, when you talk about something, it's like, you don't do it.

    So many people know and revere Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and it was so interesting to see him in such a different light on Blunt Talk. What was it like working with him to create that character?

    Well, it was a hell of a lot of fun. I gave Patrick some incredible range in his portrayal of Walter Blunt, and kind of like Captain Picard he was very much the leader of our set, you know? Patrick has a regal bearing, you know, Sir Patrick, and so it was just a hell of a lot of fun seeing him do silly things and putting him in silly costumes and yeah, he was just a joy to watch and work with.

    Are you developing anything for TV now?

    Well, right now, my focus has been on this sequel to You Were Never Really Here. I think I'll only be able to do one thing at a time. I am trying to get a third TV project launched by tasking myself as an executive producer, for someone that would supervise. I don't know if any of those projects will come to fruition, and I'm trying to help some friends, but those aren't things that I wouldn't necessarily, you know, be the showrunner and the engine for. But yeah, right now, my focus is on the sequel to You Were Never Really Here. My book ends differently than the movie, so the sequel picks up where my book had ended. But it would be so cool if Joaquin and Lynne did it again, it would be amazing.

    You Were Never Really Here is in theaters now and expands around the country today (April 20).


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    Know the terror and madness of Stephen King's 10 greatest supernatural villains!

    Feature Marc Buxton
    Apr 21, 2018

    The name Stephen King conjures up images of horrific creatures, monsters, places, and stories, and some of the most enduring villains in fiction. These are beings of unimaginable evil that test the limits of the protagonists' will to survive, and some of these villains have gone on to become almost as famous (or infamous) as the writer himself. While many Stephen King villains are monsters of the human variety (serial killers, power hungry despots, nihilists, etc.) his most memorable are the supernatural ones who use their dark powers to twist the orderly world around them into a special place of chaos and pain.

    Pennywise the Clown isn't the only monster you need to fear at night. Stephen King has created plenty of other horrific things that go bump in the night...Here are just a few of his best supernatural madmen and monsters.

    Gage Creed

    10. Gage Creed and the Pet Sematary

    Pet Sematary (1983)

    “Don’t go beyond, no matter how much you feel you need to, Doctor. The barrier was not made to be broken. Remember this: there is more power here than you know. It is old and always restless. Remember.”

    When Louis, Rachel, Eileen, and Gage Creed moved to Ludlow, Maine from Chicago, their cat Winston Churchill in tow, they wanted a peaceful new life in the more rural locale. What they got was a descent into death and madness almost unmatched in modern horror fiction. In the novel, the Creed cat is killed. Louis fears telling his daughter and buries the beloved pet at a nearby “Pet Sematary,” an old Micmac Indian burial ground. The cat returns home, much to Louis’ shock and delight, but it’s not the same friendly animal. It’s a listless, mean, half-alive creature that does not have a fondness for life.

    When Gage is killed by a truck, overcome with despair, Louis buries his son in the Sematary. What comes back is a true horror of epic proportions. Gage is such a disturbing villain because he once existed as an object of the purest affection. The once totally innocent soul is now corrupt and ridden with supernatural darkness. The Pet Sematary itself is rumored to once have been a burial place for cannibals, and the spirit of a Wendigo dwells in the soil.

    Now, Gage is back with the most ancient of curses coursing where blood once flowed. Every father’s nightmare turned even darker. King felt the book was too dark even for him and shelved it until his wife, Tabitha, and his friend, the author Peter Straub, encouraged him to share his bleak vision of paternal loyalty with the world.

    Watch Pet Sematary on Amazon

    9. The Leatherheads

    Under the Dome (2009)

    “God turned out to be a bunch of bad little kids playing interstellar Xbox. Isn't that funny?”

    Much more frightening than typical villains, the Leatherheads are an alien race responsible for the construction of the Dome that covers Chester’s Mill. They are in the same vein as H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmic horrors, beings much older and more powerful than humanity. The mere sight of them could drive a man mad. They are beings with the power of gods but no connection to or feelings for humanity. Just cold observers that exist on a different layer of reality.

    The Leatherheads construct the Dome the same way a child makes an ant farm, out of a morbid curiosity to watch how lesser creatures exist. Their casual disregard for humanity makes them truly terrifying, because unlike some of King’s other antagonists, there is really no way to fight them.

    The Leatherheads are mentioned in King’s chilling short story N., but it is in Under the Dome where readers get to experience the sheer paralytic terror that would occur if an alien species of ancient intelligence turned their attention towards our little backwater planet.

    Read Under the Dome on Amazon

    RELATED ARTICLE: Every Stephen King Film and TV Adaptation Currently in Development

    Overlook Hotel

    8. The Overlook Hotel

    The Shining (1977)

    “This inhuman place makes human monsters.”

    If there is one thing King’s constant readers have learned after decades of nightmares is that places can be as evil as people, an idea that is personified in the Overlook Hotel, the setting of The Shining. On the surface, The Shining is a classic haunted house tale, but beneath the surface, it is so much more. It is a deep look into the fragility of fatherhood, the bond of trust between father and son. As Danny Torrance, the psychic child who journeys to a secluded Colorado hotel with his caretaker father and loving mother discovers when the father he trusted is transformed in a raging madman by the power within the Overlook.

    The novel’s most riveting sections feature past accounts of other times that the Overlook weaved its dark magic, transforming good men into monsters. The walls of the Overlook can barely contain the rage within the heart of the hotel, and as The Shining plays out, readers discover just how corrupt the place is. Make no mistake, it may not have arms to swing an ax, or legs to chase down its victims, but the Overlook is a hungry sort of evil that demands to be fed. Just try staying at a Motel 6 after reading King’s classic. I dare you.

    Watch The Shining on Amazon


    The Raggedy Man

    7. The Raggedy Man

    Cell (2006)

    “What Darwin was too polite to say, my friends, is that we came to rule the earth not because we were the smartest, or even the meanest, but because we have always been the craziest, most murderous motherfuckers in the jungle.”

    Fans of the Walking Dead need to recognize. King does zombies too, and they are sphincter-tighteningly scary. In Cell, a pulse travels into cell phones all over the world. Anyone on their phone at the fateful moment is turned into a zombie. These villains are a different breed than the popular Romero clones, as the pulse also unlocks latent powers of the human mind like telepathy and levitation.

    The Raggedy Man is the leader of the zombies. He thinks, organizes, and commands. He has all the nihilistic hunger of a zombie, but he has planning skills and foresight which make him a truly frightening antagonist. His goal is to spread his people around the globe and take the planet for his horde. He sees humanity as a threat to his people and seeks to destroy them to protect his new race, which could make him literature’s first sympathetic zombie villain. He is often seen wearing a crimson Harvard hoodie giving the creature an atypical zombie air of intelligence and capability.

    The name of Harvard’s sports teams by the way? The Harvard Crimson. Well played Mr. King, well played.

    Read Cell on Amazon

    Kurt Barlow

    6. Kurt Barlow

    ‘Salems Lot (1975)

    “That above all else. They did not look out their windows. No matter what noises or dreadful possibilities, no matter how awful the unknown, there was an even worse thing: to look the Gorgon in the face.”

    King’s only foray into vampires (the classic ones, anyway), Barlow was the writer’s way of getting the whole mythos right the first time. ‘Salems Lot was King’s second published novel and his first of many novels centering on the idea of a preternatural creature releasing the beast inside of regular people. It was also his first small town novel, a setting King would return to many times over the decades.

    Barlow’s story mirrors that of Dracula, from the shipment of his coffin and native soil from overseas to his arrival and reign of terror in a contemporary setting. He even has his own personal Renfield, Richard Straker, his own gothic mansion, his own legion of dark minions, and a twisted grip on the residents of ‘Salems Lot.

    Barlow was more of a catalyst, using embraced residents as pawns to tighten his grip on the town, but his very presence on the page was accompanied with a sense of urgency and dread.

    In a 1995 BBC radio drama of ‘Salems Lot (that is well worth seeking out), Barlow is played by Pinhead himself, Doug Bradley, which automatically gives the vampire tons of villain cred.

    Read Salem's Lot on Amazon

    RELATED ARTICLE: A Reading Guide to the Stephen King Universe

    5. George Stark

    The Dark Half (1989)

    “Cut him. Cut him while I stand here and watch. I want to see the blood flow. Don't make me tell you twice.”

    Stephen King once wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman and published some of his more experimental works like The Running ManThe Long Walk, and Thinner. His experience as somewhat existing as another person inspired King to write the Dark Half, and inspired the creation of one of his most cold blooded killers, George Stark. 

    In the novel, Thad Beaumont was a successful author who wrote violent crime novels under the pen name of George Stark. After revealing to the world he was actually Stark, Thad and his wife stage a mock funeral for the author to symbolically cut ties with the violent crime fiction Beaumont wanted to leave behind. This is where King brings the terror.

    The novel started with a flashback that dealt with the removal of an eye from the brain of a young Thad. It was the eye of a twin that was conjoined in the womb to the writer, an incident Thad had all but forgotten about. It was actually the eye of George Stark, who later rises from the mock grave the Beaumonts planted him in to go on a killing spree that leaves even the most seasoned reader with PTSD.

    Stark is the embodiment of the darkness in the hearts of all men. The most frightening part of the book is that even though Beaumont is desperate to rid the world of Stark, part of him is attracted to the freedom evil gives Stark, and the realization that the evil is a part of him.

    Read The Dark Half on Amazon

    RELATED ARTICLE: Stephen King's 10 Greatest Human Villains

    Blaine the Mono

    4. Blaine the Mono

    The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands (1991)

    “Choo-Choo, thought Jake, and shuddered.”

    You will never look at Thomas the Tank Engine the same way again. Blaine is a sentient train in the Dark Tower series, a machine driven insane by underuse. Blaine once housed a powerful computer mind, but the network has since broken down, making the train deranged, cruel, and suicidal.

    Roland and his ka-tet need the train to travel out of the Wasteland so Roland can finish his quest for the Dark Tower. They board Blaine. They are horrified when they find Blaine has gone completely insane. The train forces them into a game of riddles. The situation gets worse, as the ka-tet realizes Blaine will kill himself by derailing at great speed with them aboard.

    A crazy, sentient, thundering locomotive with a face is scary enough, but couple that with the fact that the train suffers from crippling mental health issues, and you have one of the most unique monsters in literature. There is a second voice inside Blaine, Little Blaine, who begs the ka-tet to help him, adding even another layer to the tragic nightmare that is Blaine.

    So essentially, Blaine is Gollum if Gollum was a runaway train: a riddle loving, murderous, schizophrenic machine who has been ruined by pain and emptiness.

    Read The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands on Amazon

    Crimson King

    3. The Crimson King aka Los'Ram Abbalah, The Kingfish, The Red King, Lord of Discordia, Lord of Spiders, Satan

    Insomnia (1994)

    Black House (2001)

    The Dark Tower series

    “I am the Eater of Worlds.”

    The Crimson King is often mistaken for It, and it is not completely clear if they are the same monster, but the regality and level of reverence the King’s minions hold for him seem to suggest that he is different than the sewer-dwelling eater of children.

    The Crimson King is the embodiment of evil in King’s shared fictional universe. He is first introduced in Insomniawhere he tries to kill a child prophesied to topple the rule of the King forever.

    The King is later revealed as the monster behind the events of the novel Black House, and he is the overarching villain of the Dark Tower series, the monster responsible for trying to bring down the structure of reality.

    Stephen King suggests that all his villains, supernatural or otherwise, are pawns of the Crimson King. The name itself carries some great metatextual flavor as, of course, Stephen King himself is the one truly responsible for the evil in his worlds. The half of the writer that creates and is responsible for these horrific monsters is also named King. Stephen King is the writer, father, husband, and Red Sox fan. The Crimson King is the dark overlord of the fictional universe and the monster maker.

    Start here: The Dark Tower Vol. 1 - The Gunslinger

    Stephen King's It

    2. It aka Pennywise the Dancing Clown, Robert Gray, Bob Grapes

    It (1986)

    "Float?" The clown’s grin widened. "Oh yes, indeed they do. They float! And there’s cotton candy..."
    George reached.
    The clown seized his arm.
    And George saw the clown’s face change.

    Every twenty-seven years It rises to devour the children of Derry. It awoke when a homosexual couple was beaten by a gang of thugs in 1984 to again reign terror on the children of Derry. It was put to rest by the Losers Club, a group of misfit teens, in 1958 only to rise again, decades later. It killed the leader of the Losers’ (Bill Denbrough) little brother in one of the most hair-raising prologues in horror history.  

    It is another of King’s manipulator villains, as It controls the darker residents of Derry, such as bully Henry Bowers to do Its bidding. It is a cannibalistic clown that lives in the sewers, a leprous mummy, a giant spider, or a series of orange lights called the Dead Lights that drive people mad when gazed upon.

    Unlike the similar creature, the Crimson King, It does not commit evil for glory or power. It devours because It hungers. The lives of innocents exist only to fill the void of It's being. And let’s face it, nothing, NOTHING is freakin’ scarier than a hungry clown in a sewer.

    Watch Stephen King's IT (2017) on Amazon

    Randall Flagg

    1. Randall Flagg

    aka The Ageless Stranger, The Walkin' Dude, The Dark Man, The Hardcase, The Man in Black, The Tall Man, The Midnight Rambler, The Antagonist, The Grinning Man, Old Creeping Judas, He Who Walks Behind The Rows, The Covenant Man, Richard Fry, Robert Franq, Ramsey Forrest, Robert Freemont, Richard Freemantle, Russell Faraday, The Monster, The Man with No Face,  Richard Fannin, Raymond Fiegler, Walter o'Dim, Marten Broadcloak, Walter Padick, Walter Hodji, and Bill Hitch

    The Stand (1978)
    Eyes of the Dragon (1986)
    Hearts in Atlantis (1999)
    The Dark Tower series

    “My life for you.”

    Not so much a single villain, but the archetype of all villains, Randall Flagg is King’s greatest singular creation of evil. Flagg first appeared in The Stand, the Dark Man who gathers the worst of humanity to rebuild a new civilization in his own dark image. The Walkin’ Dude had a propensity for crucifying any whose beliefs ran contrary to his.

    Flagg is the greatest of King’s manipulators, able to inspire loyalty in those with dark hearts, as seen by the Trashcan Man in The Stand and even Mother Carmody in The Mist. All they have to do is say “My life for you,” and mean it, and Flagg will be there to inspire their dark deeds.

    He was revealed to be the antagonists to Roland in the Dark Tower series, and is the ever present evil in all men. Flagg is walking the back roads of reality just waiting for a chance to whisper in humanity’s ear and stir up some good, old fashioned chaos.


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    In sharing some information on the next four Avatar films in AMC Visionaries series, the legendary director threw some shade Marvel's way.

    News Alec Bojalad
    Apr 22, 2018

    Get ready for your two-minutes hate, Internet. The old man who did the blue cat Pocahontas movie has drawn the battle lines. We've always been at war with Pandora.

    Titanic/Avatar/Terminator/Aliens director and all-around cinematic icon James Cameron expressed some light dissatisfaction with giant superhero franchises while promoting his new docuseries AMC Visionaries: James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction

    “I’m hoping we’ll start getting Avenger fatigue here pretty soon,” Cameron said, while promoting his new docuseries. “Not that I don’t love the movies. It’s just, come on guys, there are other stories to tell besides hyper-gonadal males without families doing death-defying things for two hours and wrecking cities in the process. It’s like, oy!”

    It's like, "oy!", indeed. So poor Cameron may not be fully aware of the hornets' nest of nerd rage he has kicked here. He does qualify that he "loves" the film franchise as is...he just wants to see less of it. All in all, that's a perfectly mild statement immediately undercut by the fact that Cameron's AMC Visionaries series is to promote not one, not two, not three, but four, yes FOUR Avatar sequels. 

    Do the details of those new Avatarsequels kind of sound unexpectedly cool? Of course they do. But that's beside the point. We're raging here! In the non-Avengers criticizing portions of the AMC Visionaries tease, Cameron describes his admittedly intriguing vision for the next round of Avatarfilms. 

    “I’ve found myself as a father of five starting to think about what would an Avatar story be like if it was a family drama,” he said. “What if it was The Godfather? It’s a generational family saga. That’s very different than the first film. There’s still the same setting and the same respect for the shock of the new. We still want to show you things that you haven’t even seen or imagined, but the story is very different. It’s a continuation of the same characters… but what happens when warriors who are willing to go on suicide charges and leap off cliffs, what happens when they grow up and have their own kids? It becomes a very different story.”

    Alright, that sounds cool. You may continue on, old man. Just leave Cap and T'Challa out of this.

    The six-part docuseries, AMC Visionaries: James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction, premieres Monday, April 30 at 10 p.m. ET on AMC.


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    Deadpool 2 is on track to be a box office juggernaut if its Fandango pre-sales numbers are anything worth considering.

    News Den of Geek Staff
    Apr 22, 2018

    It turns out when you hire someone with as much can-do attitude as Rob Delaney’s Peter, good things can always happen for any endeavor. Such is the case with Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool 2, the foul-mouthed and fourth-wall breaking superhero extravaganza that is sure to take in a box office haul worth dropping four-letter words over. And Fandango confirms as much with its latest press release.

    As per the online movie ticket retail service, Deadpool 2 is on pace to become the biggest R-rated pre-seller in the company’s 18-year history. In fact, according to Fandango, after 24 hours of pre-seales on Thursday, Deadpool 2 is tracking only behind Marvel Studios’ much more family friendly, PG-13 Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther in terms of sheer ticket-buying volume.

    “Thanks in part to Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld’s exclusive FanShop poster offer with tickets, fans flocked to Fandango to reserve their seats as soon as tickets were available,” said Erik Davis, Fandango’s managing editor, in a statement.

    This is good news for the Merc with a Mouth, because he’s going big in Deadpool 2 with a higher budget and certainly a bigger canvas. The superhero sequel, directed by Atomic Blonde’s David Leitch, features more popular X-Men characters entering the fray like Cable (Josh Brolin, who is moonlighting after playing Thanos in the MCU, a fact Reynolds’ alter-ego is having too much over) and Domino (Zazie Beetz). The picture also, on a personal geek out note, includes the boy, the the myth, and the legend who was once Ricky Baker in Hunt for Wilderpeople, Julian Dennison.

    The film follows Deadpool forming a new superhero group called the X-Force in order to combat a time traveling Cable. Why is Cable coming to our present? Something about hunting down a mutant child played by Dennison, but that appears to be just a pretext for action-comedy glory, complete with fan favorites returning like Morena Baccarin as Vanessa, Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and Stefan Kapicic as the voice of Colossus.

    Deadpool 2 starts brings the jokes to theaters when it opens on May 18.


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    J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings mythos will be further explored by Christopher Tolkien in The Fall of Gondolin.

    NewsJoseph Baxter
    Apr 10, 2018

    J.R.R. Tolkien only properly published Middle Earth novels in 1937’s The Hobbit and 1954-1955’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy before he passed away in 1973. Yet, his backlog of manuscripts and concepts remains a cache of source material for posthumous releases curated by his son, Christopher Tolkien, notably with 1977’s Middle-earth historical chronicle, The Silmarillion, 2007’s The Children of Húrin and, most recently, 2017’s Beren and Lúthien. Now, the next posthumous J.R.R. Tolkien release has been revealed to be The Fall of Gondolin.

    The Fall of Gondolin is set to arrive late this summer, manifesting as a 304-page novel, showcasing illustrations by the legendary (movie-aesthetic-inspiring) Tolkien-artist, Alan Lee, released in all physical and digital formats in numerous languages in the USA by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It will also apparently be the final Middle-earth book that the 93-year-old Christopher Tolkien will adapt. Fortuitously, it will be a crucial missing Middle-earth tale, one that J.R.R. is said to have written while recovering from injuries sustained in one of World War I’s bloodiest campaigns, the Battle of the Somme, which took place from July to November 1916.

    Another era from the ancient history of Middle-earth (briefly chronicled in The Silmarillion,) will be greatly expanded in The Fall of Gondolin, given away by its very title. Gondolin refers to a vast mountain-elevated city of the Elven kin, the Noldor, hidden from evil and built by lord-later-king, Turgon, after their exile from Valinor, the Undying Lands. However, after the city’s splendor endured for 400 years, it was made vulnerable in an act of betrayal against Turgon, facilitating an unprecedently devastating invasion by the orcs, balrogs, and dragons in the service of Middle-earth’s original enemy, Melkor (or Morgoth), leading to its fall.

    While The Fall of Gondolin takes place in the ancient Elven city, this tale will be told through the eyes of a human, named Tuor. Born into difficult familial circumstances in the aftermath of the first great battle against Melkor/Morgoth, Tuor eventually found himself a slave to the Easterlings, later escaping to live a roguish existence as an outlaw, until an encounter with one of the Valar (the mythos’ highest of celestial beings,) named Ulmo, the god of water. Ulmo warns Tuor of a disaster fated for the city of Gondolin, directing him to travel there, giving him a magic cloak (not unlike the ones that Frodo and company wear in The Lord of the Rings,) that hides him safely from the eyes of enemies. While Tuor would make a home of Gondolin, even managing to start a family (notably siring the half-elf, Eärendil, whose star light would, ages later, be given to Frodo by Galadriel), the ominous disaster of which he was warned still looms.

    The choice of The Fall of Gondolin for this – presumably final – Christopher Tolkien-curated novel is one that seems to be resonating with the fandom. As Tolkien Society chair Shaun Gunner lauds in response:

    "We never dared to dream that we would see this published. The Fall of Gondolin is, to many in the Tolkien community, the Holy Grail of Tolkien texts as one of Tolkien’s three Great Tales alongside The Children of Húrin and Beren and Lúthien. This beautiful story captures the rise and fall of a great Elven kingdom, taking place millennia before the events of The Lord of the Rings. This book brings all the existing work together in one place to present the story in full."

    Of course, the release of The Fall of Gondolin will be boosted by Amazon’s upcoming – purportedly $1 billion costingThe Lord of the Rings TV series, as well as the upcoming J.R.R. Tolkien biopic, titled Tolkien.

    The Fall of Gondolin is scheduled to hit bookshelves and devices when it’s released on August 30.


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    The Marvel Cinematic Universe & Avengers: Infinity War has an army of amazing characters. So you won't be seeing THESE clowns anytime soon.

    Feature Marc Buxton
    Apr 23, 2018

    Nearly everyone who has ever put on a costume in a Marvel Universe movie will be back for Avengers: Infinity War. That is one huge roster of heroes.

    But during the history of the comic book Avengers, even more great champions have joined the team’s ever swelling ranks. You have heroes like both the male and female versions of Captain Marvel, you have She-Hulk, Hercules, Wonder Man, Ant-Man, the obscure fan favorite Quasar, the Black Knight, and you even have some of Marvel’s mightiest mutants like the Beast, Wolverine, and Storm. Spider-Man did his time, too.

    One thing is for certain, in future film installments of the Avengers, Marvel Studios will have a ton of great characters to choose from if it desires to grow the legendary ranks of Marvel’s greatest team of champions.

    BUT...

    There are a number of heroes who have been Avengers who, let’s just say, aren't exactly the stuff legends are made of. Join us as we journey down some strange corners of the Marvel Universe and examine the heroes who will never be called to assemble on the big screen...

    Moondragon

    Joined the team in Avengers #151 (1976)

    While Moondragon has been a member in good standing of both the Defenders and the modern day Guardians of the Galaxy (she was an actual dragon at the time...it was awesome), her time as an Avenger was less than stellar. First off, she ran around in a high collared cape, thigh high boots, and a Borat slingshot thong.

    Secondly, after Moondragon joined the Avengers, she spent most of her time trying to seduce the male members of the team. She would actually use her considerable psychic powers to enrapture the male Avengers to her sexually. She did it to Thor and Swordsman and there was nary an avenging y-chromosome carrier that did not get sexually manipulated by her.

    Things got so bad that in an issue of Marvel Two-in-One, The Thing took it upon himself to spank Moondragon on behalf of his Avengers pals setting gender equality in comics back to at least 1936. In fairness to the Moondragon character, some cool things were done with her after she departed the Avengers, but her time as one of Earth’s mightiest was an exercise in poor taste all around. She did rock in Star Trek: The Motion Picture though.

    Wait, what?

    Dr. Druid

    Joined the team in Avengers #278 (April 1987)

    Dr, Druid is a poor man’s Doctor Strange and came to the Avengers aid during the classic Masters of Evil invading Avengers Mansion storyline of the '80s. Druid was part of Marvel’s horror renaissance of the '70s and an infrequent supporting character in such titles as Ghost Rider and The Defenders.

    As a champion against dark magic, there was nothing intrinsically wrong with Dr. Druid...until the arrogant mage thought he had what it took to join the roster of the Avengers. All of a sudden, Druid, a paunchy, balding, middle aged goof, was side by side with Thor. Next to each other, the two looked like a before and after photo advertising a nutritional supplement.

    As soon as he joined the Avengers, Druid became instantly mind controlled by Nebula (you know, bald, blue skinned Amy Pond from the Guardians of the Galaxy) and pretty much spent his days as an Avenger as a villainess’ meat puppet. Even before he fell under Nebula’s thrall, he made unwanted advances toward the Wasp and it was all kinds of like having your creepy high school shop teacher on the Avengers.

    Dr. Druid did star in a very cool Warren Ellis penned mini-series in the '90s but as an Avenger? Yeah, no.

    Demolition Man

    Joined the team in Captain America #349

    Demolition Man, or D-Man as he was called, never actually joined the team. He was killed right after Captain America got him voted in as a member. D-Man, real name Dennis Dunphy, was a wrestler who was granted enhanced strength and stamina after he was experimented upon by an unscrupulous promoter (a scandalous pro wrestling disgrace parallel to Daniel Bryan not headlining WrestleMania 31).

    After retiring from the ring, Dunphy went on Colt Cabana’s podcast and crapped all over the WWE medical staff. Wait, wrong disgruntled former wrestler.

    Actually, Dunphy adopted a costume that looked like if Wolverine threw up on Daredevil’s original yellow costume. Gaudily clad and eager, D-Man became Captain America’s partner. He was voted to join the ranks of the Avengers and was killed. Somehow, he was resurrected and became crazy, smelly, and homeless. Now, he was the Marvel Universe version of Lennie Small crossed with Pepe Le Pew before eventually becoming the new Scourge of the Underworld. Because comics!

    His fashion sense alone disqualifies him from cinematic inclusion.

    Stingray

    Joined the team in Avengers #319 (1990)

    Any old-time fan of superhero teams know that having an underwater guy on the team is always problematic. Whether it was Aquaman in the Justice League, Aqualad in Teen Titans, or Sub-Mariner in the Invaders or the Defenders, writers would always have to come up with some reason, usually forced, to get the underwater crusaders into their elements.

    Well, Stingray is a second-string water guy, a supporting character to Sub-Mariner, who wears a gaudy costume with an arrow on his face. Yeah, Stingray is brave and self sacrificing and blahblahblah, but he was a supporting cast member in a b-lister's book and never really did anything other than swim around and do sciencey things underwater.

    The Avengers must have known that this guy was kind of an arrow faced mort because they never gave him full membership. They just kind of left him to guard their sea base. Don’t expect Stingray to pop up in a film anytime soon. If Marvel can’t use Sub-Mariner cinematically, it isn’t going to use this dolphin loving dummy.

    (Please don’t tell anyone that at one New York Comic Con, I went out of my way to purchase Stingray’s first appearance; it will ruin my veneer of ironic detachment)

    Gilgamesh

    Joined the team Avengers #300 (1989)

    Listen, far be it for me to disparage a classic literary hero, especially one skillfully inserted into the Marvel Universe by Jack Kirby in the pages of The Eternals(listen, Kevin Feige, get that Eternalsscript geared up NOW!), but this epic hero did not belong anywhere near the Avengers. Gilgamesh joined the Avengers at the same time as Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman and all total, all three lasted about six seconds on the team.

    Gilgamesh wore a dead bull head as a helmet and was supposed to be the team’s next Thor. He wasn’t. He really was just a dude with a dead bovine on his head.

    When Gilgamesh died in Avengers#391, nobody cared because they had forgotten he was an Avenger in the first place. Neil Gaiman resurrected Gilgamesh in the pages of his awesome Eternalsseries which is a good thing, because as an Eternal Gilgamesh kind of rocks...as an Avenger, not so much.

    Starfox

    Joined the team in Avengers #243 (May 1984)

    Starfox is the brother of the mad Titan Thanos and we all know just how big a role Thanos will play in the Marvel Cinematic Universe moving forward. Even that isn’t enough to convince us that Eros of Titan should join the film ranks of the Avengers.

    Starfox was a member in good standing of the Avengers in the 1980s and bound the team with Jack Kirby’s Eternals. He is a swashbuckling ladies man but the problem with Starfox, the love god of the cosmos, is his powers. Starfox has the power to use his enhanced pheromones to make women fall in love with him, and more often than not, Starfox takes advantage of his pheromone controlled concubines.

    Nope.

    Rage

    Joined the team in Avengers #329 (1991)

    Yeah, it was kind of cool when Rage joined the Avengers back in ‘91, after all, at the time; the only Avengers of color were the Monica Rambeau version of Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and the Falcon. But having this newest Avenger be a really angry teenager (named Rage) as the Avengers’ newest member...they could have thought that out a little better.

    Rage wore a wrestling mask and a black leather jacket because he was angry and never rose above probationary status. Rage went on to bigger and better things in the pages of the New Warriors were he grew past his status as an ill-conceived stereotype, so that's a relief. But the Avengers already have one member whose gimmick is being angry all the time...they don't need another.

    Thunderstrike

    Joined the team in Avengers #343 (1992)

    For a time in the '80s and '90s, Eric Masterson, an average mortal Joe, gained the powers of the Mighty Thor. When the real Thor returned, Masterson was given a mystic mace and became the very '90s hero known as Thunderstrike. I mean, the dude ran around with a fly away pony tail, a lightning bolt earring and fought '90s loser villains with names like Blood Axe.

    Masterson did have the distinction of joining the Avengers and adding some mullety goodness to the roster but don’t expect this Thor clone to appear on the big screen anytime ever. If this '90s reject appears in a film before the awesome new female Thor or Beta Ray Bill, the very ground of Midgard will shake with injustice. Horse headed badasses swinging hammers trump pony tails every time.

    By the way, Thunderstrike wore a leather vest with pouches because nothing says demigod like a leather vest.

    Living Lightning

    Joined the team in Avengers West Coast #74 (1991)

    The Living Lightning was not a bad superhero. He wasn’t cheesy or offensive or any of the things that forced other former Avengers onto this list. No, Living Lightning’s greatest sin was that he was so freakin’ dull.

    Miguel Santos actually broke some new ground as he was the first Hispanic male to join the Avengers in his identity of Living Lightning, but even that accolade doesn't stop this generic wonder from being one of the most profoundly boring heroes of all time. He turned his body into lightning, and he was alive. That’s it. He didn’t have any interesting flaws or character traits; he was just a dude with electric powers that fell into active Avengers membership.

    At least he didn’t have a pouchy vest and a ponytail.

    Deathcry

    Joined the team in Avengers #363 (1993)

    Hey, speaking of the '90s, check out this EXTREME disaster. Big improbable hair? Check. A scowl etched upon her crudely rendered face? Check. Cleavage? Check. A bad attitude and a big, dopey weapon? Check. It’s Deathcry the Shi’ar bird assassin lady with a bad ‘tude and tight pants!

    Deathcry is really interchangeable with other '90s characters like Marrow and Feral, big haired, angry women that basically just stood around and posed while yelling- a lot. Maybe all this nonsense will become en vogue again in 2090 and then Deathcry will make her cinematic debut. Until then, she is just going to have to be a feather haired, embarrassing historical footnote.

    Jack of Hearts

    Joined the team in Avengers vol. 3 #38 (2001)

    Jack of Hearts actually was once one of Marvel’s cooler esoteric '70s characters who hung out on the fringes of the Marvel Universe in such books as Marvel Two-in-One and Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu. But as an Avenger? uh-uh.

    This fashion disaster joined the team during Geoff Johns’ run on the book and was quickly killed off in Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers Disassembled. Probably because Jack of Hearts’ costume clashed with the garb of every other Avenger ever. Seriously, look at this guy. He looks like a box of Crayolas puked all over him. If Marvel Studios put Jack of Hearts in a film, they would risk half their fan base dropping dead from a brain embolism if they had to look at that costume in IMAX 3D.

    Jack of Hearts had some sort of nuclear power but he should have remained in Marvel’s black and white magazines because in color, that costume just hurts. I think Jack of Hearts was brought back to life in a random issue of Marvel Zombies which is all sorts of ironic when you stop and think about it.

    J2

    Joined the team in A-Next #1 (1998)

    Not a member of the actual Avengers, old Even Flow here was a member of A-Next, the Avengers of the MC2 Universe. I know, Marvel doesn’t have the rights to use any Juggernaut in its film universe, but that’s not the only reason this guy shouldn’t come anywhere near the big screen. We like our Juggernauts badass, and this dummy is anything but.

    Yes, Zane Yama is the son of the original Juggernaut but that’s where the resemblance ends. J2 wears a dopey silver helm and when he manifests his powers, a flannel mystically appears around his waist. Seriously, this silver headed dingbat was created in ’98 and he was still rocking the flannel.

    He was a founding member of the A-Next team, a crew that also consisted of such (ahem) legends as Freebooter and Argo the Almighty. Maybe they can form a Temple of the Dog cover band or something, but as film Avengers, I say thee nay!


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    Here's what J.K. Rowling had to say about a Harry Potter future past The Cursed Child.

    News Kayti Burt
    Apr 23, 2018

    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has officially opened in New York. (Read our review!) The sequel play is set 19 years following the main events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and tells the story of a middle-aged Harry, as well as the story of his middle son, Albus, and Albus' best friend, Scorpius Malfoy (aka our new favorite Harry Potter character).

    The play is definitely a nostalgic one, interested in reflecting back on Harry's post both pre-Hogwarts and during the war against the Dark Lord, but it also introduces a whole new generation of Harry Potter characters to fall in love with (we particularly loved Scorpius Malfoy). Will we get to go on more adventures with Harry, Ron, Hermione, Albus, and Ron, or is this the end of the (canon) story for Harry Potter?

    Speaking at The Cursed Child's official opening in London in 2016, J.K. Rowling suggested this would be Harry Potter's final installment, saying:

    He goes on a very big journey during these two plays and then, yeah, I think we're done. This is the next generation, you know. So, I'm thrilled to see it realized so beautifully but, no, Harry is done now.

    Rowling doubled down on that sentiment in 2017, with this tweet...

    Of course, such declarations should be taken with a grain of salt. Rowling initially didn't plan on continuing on after The Deathly Hallows, and then we got the gift that is The Cursed Child, so you never know. Rowling is allowed to change her mind. 

    Whatever happens, we will always have these seven books and sequel play, which is pretty cool and more than most narrative universes get. Plus, as both the Harry Potter books and The Cursed Child insist: "The ones who loves us never really leave us." We will always have the world of Harry Potter to return to, even if this truly is the end of the story. (Besides, we're pulling for one of these Harry Potter spinoff movies, anyway...)

    And, if you're still sad about the apparent ending of Harry Potter canon, let me leave you with this interview of Rowling conducted just after she finished The Deathly Hallows. In it (at around the 32-minute mark), Rowling is asked if this is the end of the Harry Potter story. Check out her answer...


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    The Cursed Child's greatest narrative strength lies in the vulnerability and emotional intelligence of Scorpius Malfoy.

    Feature Kayti Burt
    Apr 23, 2018

    By now, whether you've bee lucky enough to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child or not, you've probably already fallen in love with one Scorpius Malfoy. (Don't fight it. It's your destiny.)

    For all of the considerable charms of The Cursed Child, Scorpius Malfoy (played brilliantly by Anthony Boyle in the current Broadway stage version) is the heart and soul of this play filled with no shortage of characters who will make you feel things. Let's break down a few of the many reasons why Scorpius Malfoy is probably your new favorite Harry Potter character...

    Scorpius is (mostly) an original creation.

    "Scorpius? Dangerous? Have you met him? Dad, if you honestly think he’s the son of Voldemort..."

    In a sea of the nostalgic, Scorpius is a fresh, new part of this canon. Well, mostly. He was mentioned in The Deathly Hallows epilogue, but only briefly, and we learned nothing about his personality — which is exceedingly willing. Though Scorpius is technically a J.K. Rowling creation, so much of what makes Scorpius into Scorpius springs forth from the mind/pen/keyboard of Jack Thorne, the writer of The Cursed Child. 

    If you've seen any of Thorne's TV shows, then you know how well he does loner types who are struggling through a confusing, complicated existence. In his own words, Thorne is a storyteller best known for his work in stories with "slightly lonely, weird boy at the center of them." Scorpius is that and more and, perhaps because the archetype is one Thorne is so interested in, he is the highlight of this play.

    Scorpius is incredibly nerdy.

    "Wow. Squeak. My geekness is a-quivering."

    Have I mentioned yet that Scorpius is a total, unabashed nerd who says things like "Ooooh, a quiz!" and "double wow" totally unironically. The Harry Potter universe is one that relies on/ prioritizes wonder. In the original series, as a character who was raised in the Muggle world (just like us), Harry is constantly in awe of the wonders of the magical world and what is possible just on the other side of Muggle reality.

    This same sense of wonder is integral to Scorpius' character. As someone who was raised within the walls of Malfoy Manor, not venturing out very often and experiencing the world primarily through books, he always dreamed of going to Hogwarts and meeting a magical friend to one-up Flurry, his imaginary companion he fell out with over the correct rules of Gobstones. 

    If being a nerd isn't about what you love, but the depth with which you love it, then Scorpius is a nerd for magic, knowledge, and — above all else — friendship. He will do anything for Albus Potter, the one person he has found who will look past the prejudices attached to his family name and see the nerdy, wonderful person underneath. To foreshadow my inevitable audience surrogate point, is there anything more Harry Potter fans can relate to than being a nerd?

    Scorpius as audience surrogate.

    "All I ever wanted to do was go to Hogwarts and have a mate to get up to mayhem with."

    Scorpius Malfoy is the ultimate nerd wizard and is The Cursed Child's audience surrogate character in a big way. For one, he has grown up hearing stories about boy wizard Harry Potter, telling Albus: "All I ever wanted to do was go to Hogwarts and have a mate to get up to mayhem with. Just like Harry Potter. And I got his son. How crazily fortunate is that?" Um, tell me that enthusiasm for Hogwarts and these characters we grew up reading about isn't echoed by pretty much everyone in the audience and/or reading this story at home?

    Scorpius is also the character who acts as the audience surrogate during the major cliffhanger of the play. This is perhaps especially prominent for those who go to see this on-stage, as there is an hours to day-long interim between Part 1 and Part 2. The first half of this story ends with Scorpius sitting by the Hogwarts Lake, the sign of Voldemort looming over him as he learns (from Professor Umbridge, no less!) that Harry Potter is dead and Albus Potter was never born.

    Moving into Part 2, Scorpius is the only character who knows what we know or, more accurately, he is the only character from our reality. Like Scorpius, we know how the world is "supposed to be," and that is an incredibly bonding character-audience experience. As he chats with the Snape, Draco Malfoy, Ron, and Hermione in this terrible alternate reality, an intense dramatic irony takes weight. We know how much better things could turn out because, like Scorpius, we just came from that world. Like Scorpius, we desperately want to get back to it.

    Anthony Boyle does this character justice.

    "Turns out Malfoy the Unanxious is a pretty good liar."

    As someone who was lucky enough to see The Cursed Child on the London stage, I can confirm that Anthony Boyle does this delightful character justice, imbuing Scorpius with a nervous energy and complex vulnerability that makes you want to reach out and give him a hug pretty much at all times. 

    So much of Boyle's personification of Scorpius comes in non-verbal moments, which is why it is so hard to convey the awesomeness of this character without the benefit of Boyle's performance. His comedic timing is first-rate, yet his humor is laced with a introspective grief that colors so many of Scorpius' actions following the death of his mother. In Boyle's adept hands, there is always more going on beneath Scorpius' nervous, delighted surface.

    It's the climactic fight between Scorpius and Albus where Boyle really shines, those mournful frustrations finally bubbling to the surface. For Scorpius/Boyle, this moment builds through much of the first half of the play, with Scorpius' continuing attempts to encourage Albus' adventures and be there for his friend increasingly fraught by Scorpius' own pain that Albus doesn't seem to see.

    When Scorpius blows up at Albus, Boyle's performance is not vindictive so much as heartbroken. He is angry, but he is even more disappointed. Because Albus was supposed to be different; he was supposed to be Scorpius'"good friend"— that was the only request Scorpius made of Albus following his mother's death. When Scorpius breaks, it is unlike anything that has come before, but is still completely in-character...

    There was a moment I was excited, when I realized time was different, a moment when I thought maybe my mum hadn’t got sick. Maybe my mum wasn’t dead. But no, turns out, she was. I’m still the child of Voldemort, without a mother, giving sympathy to the boy who doesn’t ever give anything back. So I’m sorry if I’ve ruined your life because I tell you — you wouldn’t have a chance of ruining mine — it was already ruined. You just didn’t make it better. Because you’re a terrible — the most terrible — friend.

    It takes a good actor (and good writing) to deliver a line like "you're the most terrible friend" and make it sound like heartbreak rather than an attack. Boyle nails it.

    Scorpius as an alternate model of masculinity.

    "Okay. Hello. Um. Have we hugged before? Do we hug?"

    In the original Harry Potter stories, The Golden Trio was not known for their emotional maturity or intelligence. When Hermione was feeling up to it, she would coach Harry and Ron through expressing their emotions, but the girl had a lot of classes to get to and a Dark Lord to hunt down, she couldn't spend all of her time explaining to her male best friends the nuances of interpersonal relationships. (In The Cursed Child, she uses a hug-threat against Ron and Draco.)

    This is where we find Albus and Harry: defined by their inability to understand and express their feelings to one another. Instead, their interactions are so often defined by frustration and anger — the latter of which is a traditional masculinity-approved reaction to the pain of the world. In one particularly moving scene, Draco lays out the problem for Harry, saying:

    I can’t talk to him either. Scorpius. Especially since — Astoria has gone. I can’t even talk about how losing her has affected him. As hard as I try, I can’t reach him. You can’t talk to Albus. I can’t talk to Scorpius. That’s what this is about. Not about my son being evil.

    Enter Scorpius Malfoy, a character so defined by emotional vulnerability. Scorpius' pain is so much of who he is. In a sea of male characters in pain trying to do the stoic, non-communicative thing, he is a beacon of anti-traditional masculinity light, forcing emotional issues to the surface and asking those around him to step up and be there for him, emotionally. 

    Scorpius (and, to a certain extent, Albus) is an alternate model of what it is to be brave and strong — or, in other words, of what it is to be a hero. In The Cursed Child, it (admittedly) has something to do with vanquishing the Dark Lord, but it has everything to do with embracing vulnerability, pain, and — yes, that all important Harry Potter theme — love.

    The love story of Albus & Scorpius.

    "Find him, Scorpius. You two — you belong together."

    Of course, The Cursed Child is great not because of just one character, but because of this ensemble of richly-realized characters — both new and old — and their complex relationships with one another.

    The friendship between Scorpius and Albus is right up there with the father-son dynamic between Harry and Albus in terms of narrative importance. At its most basic element, The Cursed Child is the story of the love between these two friends. When the two meet, the play truly begins. When the two are apart, the emotional angst is at a high point. This is when we get Act Two, Scene Twelve, which is the play's equivalent of a rom-com's missing-you montage. Exhibit A:

    The staircases meet. The two boys look at each other. Lost and hopeful— all at once. And then ALBUS looks away and the moment is broken— and with it, possibly, the friendship. And now the staircases part — the two look at each other — one full of guilt — the other full of pain — both full of unhappiness.

    When the two are trapped in past Godric's Hollows together, Scorpius tells Albus: "If I had to choose a companion to be at the return of eternal darkness with, I’d choose you." If The Cursed Child is about specific love, as Ginny and Harry discuss, and Albus is so desperate to find someone who loves him for who he is rather than for who his father is, then there is no greater testament.

    Scorpius saves the day with his love for Albus, both in his actual declarations to his best friend and in the fact that he will trade the Albus-less reality for the Albus-ful reality every time. As he tells Snape: "The world changes and we change with it. I am better off in this world. But the world is not better. And I don't want that." If the ability to love and be loved is the ultimate trait in the Harry Potter universe, then Scorpius best exemplifies this promise... 


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    This exclusive preview of The Silencer #4 has triggered some unexpected Checkmate nostalgia.

    NewsJim Dandy
    Apr 23, 2018

    Reading through the first few issues of The Silencer, one of DC's new wave of comics coming out of the events of Dark Nights: Metal, I was struck by something I didn't even realize I could feel.

    I missed Checkmate.

    Checkmate, a quasi-government superspy agency, was created back in the late '80s, had its own series for a minute, and was revived in the late aughts by Greg Rucka. It functioned as almost a counterpoint to the Suicide Squad the first time around - the Squad was basically a superhero team that ran black ops, while Checkmate was a black ops squad that occasionally had superheroes. They were great in "The Janus Directive," a late-period crossover with Ostrander/Yale Suicide Squad that remains one of the best comics DC has ever published. Then when Rucka brought them back, they functioned as the last firewall for regular folks with the capes, a sort of cartoon-Justice-League-meets-MI6 that leaned heavily into the superspy stuff.

    This was all triggered by The Silencer, which so far has been Dan Abnett and John Romita, Jr doing a prototypical spy getting out of the life, then getting pulled back in tale. And all the while, they've mixed in Leviathan, one of the best things (along with Spyral) to come out of late period Grant Morrison Batman. 

    In this exclusive preview of The Silencer #4, Viktor Bogdanovic takes over for JRjr and starts things off quick with a fight between Honor (the titular Silencer) and Talia al Ghul. Bogdanovic, in case you missed it, spent some time crushing it on New Super-Man, and is here drawing one of the nicest looking one-on-one fights since the sword fight in Omega Men.

    Here's the official synopsis:

    The Silencer has been targeted by every hit man, meta-mobster and weapons-depot dropout that the Leviathan organization has to offer—now it’s time for Honor Guest to take the fight back to them! Too bad Deathstroke has other plans. Silencer squares off against Slade Wilson as we kick off a brand-new epic! And this duo’s devastating past run-in will leave you speechless! 

    And check out the preview pages before it hits this Wednesday!


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    The Cursed Child scribe Jack Thorne is already a celebrated TV writer. Here is some of his best work!

    Feature Kayti Burt
    Apr 23, 2018

    Now that Harry Potter and The Cursed Child has officially premiered on Broadway, it's easier than ever for Americans to see it—though, with a New York City location, a pretty steep ticket price, and constant competition from other Harry Potter fans, there are still plenty of people who will have to make due with the scriptbook for now. 

    In the mean time, might we recommend checking out one of these other stories from The Cursed Child scribe Jack Thorne. Thorne wrote a majority of the script for the Harry Potter sequel, with story assistance from J.K. Rowling and director John Tiffany. Thorne is a prolific writer across TV, stage, and film. He's even penning the re-write for Star Wars IX. (He's also writing the upcoming His Dark Materials TV show.)

    If you're interested in learning more about Thorne's writing style, here are six projects to check out...

    Skins

    Skins was something special — a drama about young adults written by young adults. Running for seven seasons with different cycles of character-groups, the British comedy-drama (there was also a shortlived, vastly inferior American remake on MTV) set out to tell the story of what it is really like to be a teenager in all of its complicated, heartbreaking, glorious rawness.

    Set in Bristol, U.K., each episode generally focused on an individual character and dealt with complex issues from mental health to bullying to drugs to death. Thorne was one of the original writers on the show, penning five episodes, including season 1 standout "Effy," demonstrating his ability to write from a young person's perspective.

    Episodes to watch: Season 1's "Effy" and Season 3's "Naomi" (co-written with Atiha Sen Gupta).

    Available to stream on Netflix and YouTube.

    The Fades

    Starring Game of Thrones' Natalie Dormer and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Iain De Caestecker, The Fades was a supernatural horror series about an English teenager named Paul (De Caestecker) who can see the spirits of dead people known as the Fades. The Fades are what's left when the rest of a person moves on from this world, and they are vengeful, dangerous beings who have developed the ability to basically turn into zombies.

    The premise is a bit high concept, which (along with BBC Three's budget cuts) may have resulted in the show being cancelled after only one season of six episodes, but it's still well-worth the watch. It won the 2012 BAFTA for "Best Drama," has a great cast, and is one of those supernatural shows that is not only builds incredibly momentum, but is built on a premise that's not super derivative. The Fades creates its own mythology, for better or worse.

    Thorne was the show's creator and wrote all six episodes, demonstrating the sheer imagination and world-building-construction he is capable of. 

    Episodes to watch: All of them (There are only six).

    Available to stream on Hulu.

    This Is England

    Spun off from the 2006 film This Is England, This Is England '86, This Is England '88, and This Is England '90 were all three-or-four-part TV miniseries that followed some of the film's young skinhead characters further through their adolescence. Thorne wrote the TV miniseries along with the film's director Shane Meadows.

    Like Skins, the This Is England miniseries take young people as their focus, and doesn't let up on the bleakness of its characters' realities, even whilst interspersing the drama with moments of humor, lightheartedness, and love.

    Episodes to watch: This is a heavy one, and one best viewed in order. Start with the BAFTA-winning This Is England '86 and, if you can stomach it, go from there. You can stream This Is England on YouTube.

    Cast Offs

    Cast Offs is a dark humor dramedy mockumentary telling the story of six disabled people sent to a remote British isle as part of a fictional reality show, and it is probably like nothing you have ever seen — not least of all because disabled people are severely underrepresented on TV (especially as main characters). The BAFTA series cast six disabled actors in the main roles, following one character per episode (a la Skins or Lost). 

    Cast Offs decidedly doesn't ask its audience to sympathize with its disabled characters, who are, at times, rude, vindictive, and self-destructive — you know, just like able-bodied people. Thorne co-created the series that never found much of an audience, though it was nominated for a BAFTA and pushed the boundaries of diversity on mainstream TV.

    Episodes to watch: Episode 1, "Dan," is the best place to start, given that this high-concept mockumentary takes a bit of explaining.

    Glue

    Glue was touted as "Skins  but in the country," and its focus on a group of boundary-pushing youth certaintly bears a strong resemblence to the famous drama, but Glue is decidedly its own beast. The influences of the rural setting and the murder mystery component cannot be understated. Glue uses the murder mystery structure to explore the deep chasms of this country community, exposed by the shocking murder of a local 14-year-old boy. In many ways, Glue bears some resemblance to Broadchurch, though with its focus on the friend-group of the victim, is interested in telling a very different story than its seaside counterpart.

    Thorne grew up in the rural countryside he represents in Glue, and the personal knowledge shows in this show he created and wrote. Glue is a beautifully-rendered, gorgeously-shot exploration of what it means to grow up in this part of England.

    Episodes to watch: Glue is highly serialized, so it's best to start at the beginning with episode 1.

    The Last Panthers

    The Last Panthers (created and written by Thorne), a crime series starring Samantha Morton and John Hurt, has a decidedly different vibe than much of Thorne's other work. Starting with the theft of a diamond modeled after real-life Balkan jewel thieves the Pink Panthers, the plot follows a British insurance investigator as she follows the trail across Europe, clashing with gangsters and bankers in a system of corruption and greed. 

    David Bowie wrote an original theme song for the show, and its six parts met with critical acclaim despite a slow start. With a pan-European setting and funding, not to mention the use of multiple languages throughout the story, The Last Panthers is trans-nationally unique to much of what is on TV.

    Episodes to watch: The first episode, which features the nervewracking theft that spirals the entire plot forward is can't miss. Luckily, the series is scheduled to air in America on Sundance sometime this spring. 

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    Dick Grayson dons the cowl once again in Batman #51 while the Dark Knight goes on trial.

    News John Saavedra
    Apr 23, 2018

    Batman and Catwoman are set to be married on July 4th after some time traveling shenanigans with Booster Gold and facing off against the world's worst "best man," the Joker. After the Batrimony, Bruce and Selina are going on a hard-earned honeymoon to parts unknown, but from the sound of the solicitation for Batman #51 by Tom King and Lee Weeks, their break from Gotham will be very short. 

    Bruce has been selected for jury duty in a court case that's going to hit close to home. Mr. Freeze is on trial, but he claims all charges should be dropped against him because Batman used "excessive force." Now, we all know how old pointy ears can be when he goes rogue. It's not hard to believe Batman threw one too many punches. Of course, King's Batman has never been the sort of paranoid fascist we've seen in recent big screen appearances. We'll just have to see how this case plays out. 

    Meanwhile, Gotham still needs a Batman while Bruce is away. That job falls to Dick Grayson, who will don the cowl temporarily. This development should excite longtime Batman fans who were around for Grant Morrison's legendary run in the late 2000s. After the Caped Crusader was "killed off" during his battle with Darkseid in Final Crisis, Dick took Bruce's place to become a new, more lighthearted Batman. Morrison teamed Dick up with Damian Wayne, Bruce's very grim and violent son, which made for an interesting juxtaposition of the usual Batman and Robin dynamic.

    Dick remained in the role of Batman through Morrison's Batman & Robin series as well as Batman Incorporated, which turned the Dark Knight's crimefighting exploits into a global initiative. Dick's time as Batman was later sort of (it's hazy) rebooted during the New 52 relaunch so that only Bruce had ever been Batman. Since then, Dick has made some cameos in the cowl from time to time, such as when he acted as a decoy during the Joker's attack on Gotham in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's "Endgame" story arc in 2015. 

    From the sound of it, Dick's return as Batman will be brief, but undoubtedly fun. After all, King got his big start at DC with Grayson, the series that turned the first Robin into a high-flying super spy. So King knows a thing or two about the dude...

    Batman #51 is out on July 18. 

    Here's the full solicitation:

    BATMAN #51

    Written by TOM KING
    Art and Cover by LEE WEEKS
    Variant cover by OLIVIER COIPEL

    The honeymoon’s over for Bruce Wayne as Gotham City’s most prominent citizen gets selected for jury duty in a chilling court case involving Mr. Freeze! Freeze claims the charges should be dismissed because Batman used excessive force; cue the outrage and media circus. While doing his civic duty, Wayne’s forced to take a hard look at the Dark Knight’s methods. And hey…what is Dick Grayson doing running around the city dressed as Batman?

    ON SALE 07.18.18
    $3.99 US | 32 PAGES
    Each FC | RATED T


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    Karen Gillan tells us Avengers: Infinity War feels like a graduation... especially as no actor knows everything that'll happen.

    News David Crow
    Apr 23, 2018

    The week of Avengers: Infinity War is here. Finally. In fact, with the North American premiere for the film Monday night—as well as the only press screenings—people outside of Marvel Studios and Disney’s most exclusive inner-circle are actually going to be watching it for the first time. And that includes the actors who star in it too. Indeed, when we sat down with Karen Gillan at the Tribeca Film Festival this weekend to discuss her directorial debut, the hauntingly intimate The Party’s Just Beginning, the actor confided to us that she never read a full script for Avengers 3… even while she was shooting Avengers 4.

    “I haven't seen the movie, nor have I read the entire script,” Gillan said with a hint of amazement about the whole process. “So I don't know what to expect. I'm in the same position as everybody else. I don't think anyone has seen the movie anywhere in the world until—it's happening on Monday for the first time. So we're all just like, we can't wait.” Further the Scottish filmmaker went on to add while only the “main” stars of Avengers: Infinity War received a full script, there is a chance none of them even read the real final version of the film penned by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFreely. Instead Gillan asserts the directors, Anthony and Joe Russo, personally scribbled down a fake version of the screenplay to confuse the actors and throw potential leakers off.

    “I think a couple of the actors, the main actors, got to read the full script,” Gillan told us. “But also the Russo Brothers wrote a fake script as well to throw people off track. So even if they did read the full script, they don’t know if it was the real script.”

    This confirms an admission from Joe Russo last week when he told BBC Radio Scotland that he personally gave Spider-Man actor Tom Holland a fake script because Holland has had “slips” in the past and is now on “the black list” among the cast.

    But full script, no script, or even a fake script, Gillan is jazzed to reach this milestone for Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe, which 10 years in is having its own kind of homecoming with the next two Avengers films. In both movies, she has shot extensive scenes as Nebula, the daughter of Avengers Big Bad Thanos (Josh Brolin) who is also, as per director James Gunn, “the Boba Fett of the MCU.” In fact, Gillan likened the whole release of these films to something like a graduation.

    “It does feel a little bit like a graduation,” Gillan laughed. “Yeah, and it sort of feels like a giant family portrait when we did that class photo. Because when I worked on Guardians, we really did become like a family, you know? Then we went into Avengers, and it was like we were meeting all of our cousins for the first time, and it was amazing.”

    The photo of which the actor speaks is above. We will have our full interview with Gillan about The Party’s Just Beginning (and a little Jumanji 2) later this week. And you can next see her, beginning on Thursday night, in Avengers: Infinity War. As if you needed the reminder.


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    The most charming con man in the galaxy has had plenty of adventures over the years. Here's an essential Lando reading guide!

    Feature Marc Buxton
    Apr 24, 2018

    Hello, what have we here? Thanks to Solo: A Star Wars Story and the pitch-perfect casting of Donald Glover as the coolest con man in the galaxy, Lando Calrissian is back in a big way! In some ways, we're looking forward to seeing young Lando more than the adventures of young Han, especially since Billy Dee Williams has been nowhere to be found in the Sequel Trilogy films.

    So to fill that Lando void in our lives, we present a short but fun reading list featuring the original owner of the Millennium Falcon, the man who brought back capes as a fashion accessory, and the gambler who took down the second Death Star (with the help of Wedge Antilles and Nein Nunb) - Lando Calrissian!

    Let's take a look...

    Marvel’s Star Wars #56-57 (1981) - Legends

    Writers: David Michelinie, Louise Jones, and Walt Simonson 

    Artist: Walt Simonson

    Released just months after The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars #56-57 was the very first original Lando Calrissian Expanded Universe story. And by the maker’s bristling beard, what a creative team! The great David Michelinie, Louise Jones, (before she was Simonson), and the man himself, Walt Simonson, all fleshing out not only Lando but the residents of Bespin as well.

    In this two-part story, Lando and his new Rebel pals go up against the con man's reprogrammed cyborg pal, Lobot, to stop some Ugnaunt machinations. That’s right, I said Ugnaunt machinations, and I’m not sorry. These issues feature Lando at his scheming best as he must save his bald cyborg buddy and regain control of Bespin from the Empire.

    Any deep dive into Lando Calrissian has to begin with these two issues because this was the first non-film take on the scoundrel and they feature some of comics’ best visionaries in a story that really fleshes out Cloud City.

    Read the Classic Marvel Star Wars comics here!

    Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu (1983) - Legends

    Writer: L. Neil Smith

    Yes, folks, Lando starred in his own trilogy of novels in 1983, which shows just how much of a splash the character had made post-Empire. These novels served to flesh out the character for fans who loved his victory run during the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi just a few months before.

    Think about it, Luke didn’t have his own novels but Lando (and Han) did! Perhaps the more literary-minded Star Wars fans favored the scoundrels? Anyway, Lando having his own series was a pretty big deal because in the bygone days of 1983, there weren’t too many prominent sci-fi series featuring a hero of color.

    Written by L. Neil Smith, The Lando Calrissian Adventures were filled with fast-paced pulpy goodness. These books were flashbacks to when Lando was captain of the Millennium Falcon and before he became the administrator of Cloud City. Actually, it will be interesting to compare these EU adventures to what we’re going to get in Solo.

    In Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu, which might be the pulpiest title ever, Lando tries to con his way into a treasure horde as big as a star system. The plot is a bit sparse to be honest, but Smith nails the Lando character, as the future big man of Cloud City tries to strike it rich.

    Buy Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu

    Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon (1983) - Legends

    Writer: L. Neil Smith

    Okay, nope: Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon is the pulpiest book title ever. Did I mention that Lando’s companion in these novels is a five-armed droid named Vuffi Raa? Kinda makes you wonder about Lando's droid companion in Solo, doesn't it?

    Anyway, in Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon, Lando travels to a star system that caters to immoral gamblers and scoundrels. Smith really has Lando’s cadence down in this one. Overall, the novel reads like an early eighties attempt at a sci-fi Rat Pack film.

    Buy Lando Calrissian and the Flamewind of Oseon

    Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka (1983) - Legends 

    Writer: L. Neil Smith

    Oh wow, the title Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka is just transcendent. ThonBoka!

    In the final Lando novel, Smith has his titular mustached hero and Vuffi Raa race to save an alien species in danger of extinction. This unusually altruistic act brings the pair into renewed conflict with the baddie from Mindharp of Sharu - Rokur Gepta, the Sorcerer of Tund! That’s right, I said the Sorceror of Tund! Doesn’t really have the same ring as "Dark Lord of the Sith," but it’s still pretty awesome.

    And thus, with Starcave of ThonBoka, Lando’s OG EU adventures came to an end. But what a ride! Mindharps, Flamewinds, Starcaves, capes, and mustaches... What’s not to love? One has to wonder why there was no Lobot love in these books. No disrespect meant to Vuffi Raa.

    Buy Lando Calrissian and the Starcave of ThonBoka

    Marvel's Lando (2015) - Canon

    Writer: Charles Soule

    Artist: Alex Maleev

    But the Lobot love is on display 32 years later in the Disney era! In 2015, Lando Calrissian returned to the pages of Marvel Comics in this awesome miniseries by Charles Soule and Alex Maleev.

    Set in the days before Lando became Baron Administrator of Cloud City, Lando and Lobot set out to steal a valuable pleasure cruiser filled with invaluable intel and treasure. Too bad for Lando that the ship belongs to Emperor Palpatine. Ooops.

    Read Marvel's Lando

    High adventure follows as Lando must pay a terrible price for his actions. Marvel’s Lando redefines the character for the new Disney canon and serves as a perfect bridge between the character’s upcoming appearance in Solo and The Empire Strikes Back.


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    As we get ready for the Venom movie, we take a look back at the oddball moments in the alien-clad character's history.

    The ListsGavin Jasper
    Apr 24, 2018

    Ever since popping in during the late-80's, Venom has been popular enough to show up all over the place. He's been a vengeful supervillain and he's been a mentally-unhinged would-be superhero. He's been part of the Sinister Six and he's been part of the Secret Avengers. The costume has latched onto various hosts and three of them have been used as soldiers for the government. An inventive idea that's starred in more bad stories than good, the alien symbiote has found itself in a lot of crazy situations.

    With the Venom movie on the way, I thought I'd take some time to look through Venom's history and some of the more eyebrow-raising moments. Except for anything from Spider-Man 3 because my therapist tells me I'm not ready to talk about that yet.

    15. DR. DOOM'S ILL-DEFINED PLAN FOR WORLD DOMINATION

    Spider-Man: The Video Game (1991)

    The Spider-Man arcade game is fun to play, but good luck trying to make sense of the narrative. Having Black Cat accompany Spider-Man makes enough sense, but having Hawkeye and Namor as playable is just weird. At the end of the first level, you fight Venom. Once he's defeated, he's possessed by some mystical artifact and it enlarges him to about 25-feet-tall. After being beaten down to normal size again, he gives it another go and is once again wiped out. That appears to be the last you hear from him.

    Late in the game, you find out that Kingpin isn't the game's big villain after all. He's working under Dr. Doom, meaning a trip down to Latveria for the climax. You'd think that taking out Dr. Doom (twice, since the first is a Doombot) would be the finale, but no. Once Doom is taken out, he unleashes the TRUE final boss! An army of Venoms literally rain from the top of the screen and you have to fight them all off. How random.

    Coincidentally, Dr. Doom would unleash an army of symbiotes onto the populace in Bendis' Mighty Avengers many years later.

    14. ALL ARMS ON DECK

    Venom: The Madness (1993)

    Ann Nocenti and Kelley Jones did a 3-issue arc with an interesting hook. See, Spider-Man was joined with a sentient parasite and thought it was too insane to keep around. Eddie Brock didn't have that opinion and gladly became Venom. So what if you added a third creature to the mix that drove Venom so insane that Eddie had to put his foot down and get rid of it?

    After being stomped down on by Juggernaut to the point that he was inches from death, Venom was joined with a sentient virus made out of mercury. It healed him up and jacked up his strength, while at the same time giving him extra arms and tiny head sticking out of his neck because this is an Ann Nocenti comic. Unfortunately, Venom went a little too extreme and not in a good way. Like, he at one point attempted to rape his girlfriend because he was more impulsive than ever. It's seriously messed up.

    Luckily, Juggernaut showed up for round two to interrupt that and Madness Venom was able to hold his own against the unstoppable one. He didn't get a chance to finish Juggernaut off because he's whisked away to a realm of madness, where he was attacked by dark copies of Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider. Comics!

    13. SECRET SKELETON

    What If #114 (1998)

    The final issue of the 90's run of What If was a pretty cool one with a story based on Secret Wars. What if the Beyonder and Galactus killed each other and all the heroes and villains were stranded? 25 years later, we see a society where the survivors have paired up and reproduced. The main protagonists are the children of She-Hulk and Hawkeye, Wolverine and Storm, Human Torch and Wasp, Thor and Enchantress as well as Captain America and Rogue (try not to think too hard about how that one works). Remember, though, that this is based on the story where Spider-Man got his black costume. It's shown that he's still wearing it and with two and a half decades since its introduction, what could this mean?

    Late in the story, the heroes all swarm Dr. Doom's castle and in one panel, Spider-Man is hit with one of Klaw's sonic blasts. It reveals that all that's left of Peter Parker is a skeleton. The symbiote has been controlling his remains like a puppet for who knows how many years. Yet this doesn't even faze Human Torch, who saves him and lends him a quip, as if he's long accepted that his buddy is just a pile of bones controlled by talking spandex.

    12. ENDLESS FIRST IMPRESSIONS

    Various (1993-1998)

    This one isn't so much a "moment," but it's so deliciously 90's comics that I have to mention it. Back in that decade, Venom became popular enough to get his own run as an anti-hero in San Francisco...which then got him relocated to New York City because they needed those easy-to-write Spider-Man crossovers.

    Except...Marvel had a peculiar way of running Venom's ongoing. On one hand, it really was an ongoing series. It started in February of 1993 and the last issue was January of 1998. Sixty issues across five years without a single month being off. On the other hand, they didn't treat it that way. There was no Venom #7. Rather than streamline all the comics into one easy-to-follow series, Marvel turned every single story arc into its own miniseries. What's going to sell better, a comic with a random number attached, or a Venom comic with a big #1 on the cover?

    In the end, other than Venom #1-60, we got Venom: Lethal Protector #1-6Venom: Funeral Pyre #1-3Venom: The Madness #1-3Venom: The Mace #1-3Venom: The Enemy Within #1-3Venom: Nights of Vengeance #1-4Venom: Separation Anxiety #1-4Venom: Carnage Unleashed #1-4Venom: Sinner Takes All #1-5Venom: Along Came a Spider #1-4Venom: The Hunted #1-3Venom: The Hunger #1-4Venom: Tooth and Claw #1-3Venom: On Trial #1-3Venom: License to Kill #1-3Venom: Sign of the Boss #1-2 and Venom: Finale #1-3. All that and a bunch of specials mixed in there. I guess marketing trumps a coherent reading order.

    11. THE WAR IN FRANK CASTLE'S MIND

    What If #44 (1992)

    Kurt Busiek and Luke McDonnell collaborated for one hell of a comic in What If Venom Had Possessed the Punisher? Frank Castle stops into a church moments before Eddie Brock and because of this, he becomes the host for the symbiote. At first it helps him with his war on crime, but it begins to take over more and more and even tries to make him kill Spider-Man.

    It all comes to a head when the Punisher fights Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Moon Knight on a rooftop. Spider-Man hits him with a sonic blast and it allows Frank to wrest control for just a moment. He shoots the sonic cannon and goes into a vegetative state. Inside his head, we see a really sweet sequence of Frank in his Vietnam gear as he feels himself being stalked by the creature. He changes into his Punisher duds, screams that he's not afraid, and fights the creature head on.

    It's a completely badass scene, but the best part is still Moon Knight excitedly yelling that he's a creature of mysticism – AND THE MOON! Somehow saying that wins him the benefit of the doubt.

    10. HE'S A DEMON ON WHEELS

    Venom #36 (2013)

    Cullen Bunn really did try to make his Venom run work, but a lot of the time, things never really clicked. In the latter part of his run, Flash Thompson Venom hangs out in Philadelphia and hunts down any information he can on crime boss Lord Ogre. Some criminals drive off and escape him and he's a bit disappointed that he doesn't have a ride of his own. He sees the husk of an old car with the wheels stripped off and gets an idea.

    Existing for just one hell of a splash page, the Venom-Mobile shows that apparently the symbiote is able to work on machines too if the story calls for it. Either way, it's certainly a step up from the Spider-Mobile.

    9. DOG IN THE EYE

    Dark Reign: The Sinister Spider-Man #4 (2009)

    Brian Reed and Chris Bachalo's take on Mac Gargan Venom is a super fun read, telling the story of a horndog cannibal who's treated by the media as a great hero. Under the guise of Spider-Man of the Dark Avengers, Venom causes all sorts of trouble and makes a million enemies in his wake. The climax is at a big festival in the middle of Time Square. Norman Osborn gives Bullseye and Daken the orders to take Gargan out, since he's more trouble than he's worth. Since Bullseye can make any object into a lethal weapon, he chooses to use a tiny yapping dog.

    The dog doesn't kill Venom, but it does get lodged deep into his eye. Venom proceeds to fight off Bullseye, Daken, various gang members, and a group of half-eaten supervillains out for revenge...all while he has a dog in his eye. Once cooler heads prevail, he finally pops it out of his socket and discards the poor guy off into the distance.

    8. THE SINISTER SPIDER-HAM

    What The--?! #20 (1992)

    Spider-Ham was a creation of the 80's and his star wore out before Venom's introduction. The character was reprised in the early 90's as part of Marvel's parody comic What The--?! Issue #20 features a crossover between various regulars of the series in an adventure called the Infinity Wart. Forbush Man, Spider-Ham, Milk & Cookies, and Wolverina team up and face their evil selves. For Spider-Ham, it's an excuse to introduce his Venom counterpart, Pork Grind.

    Speaking like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pork Grind fights Spider-Ham and Milk & Cookies. He mostly manhandles them until Spider-Ham eats his spinach and punches him out. Coincidentally, this is not the last entry on the list to feature Austrian Venom.

    7. EDDIE BROCK: SISTER OF PAIN

    Venom: Sign of the Boss #1 (1997)

    Venom's 90's series became delightfully silly by the end, partially because they introduced a plot device where the symbiote was placated by eating chocolate. Believe it or not, there's actually a really well-written explanation for why the symbiote is calmed by chocolate, but that's neither here nor there. During the last couple story arcs, Venom is forced to work as an agent for the government or else they'll detonate the bomb in his chest. He's given an assignment to lay low in a church for some big speech on peace by a foreign leader. If anyone makes a move, Venom is to be alerted to spring into action and stop the assassination, but not a moment sooner.

    The symbiote is able to mimic any form of clothing and disguise Eddie in all sorts of ways. That makes it extra funny when of all disguises, Eddie wears a nun's habit and asks the choirboys to not sing quite as high-pitched as it gives him a bit of a headache. Some gun-carrying thugs take them hostage, but Venom has to wait until he gets clearance to reveal himself.

    Once he does, he violently murders the henchmen in front of the children, not realizing that he's traumatizing them into oblivion. Once finished, he tells them that violence is more of an adult thing and offers a chocolate bar to one of the kids. Because of course he has a candy bar on him. The boy is practically catatonic in fear, especially when Venom yells, "Come on! Take it!" Then Venom gets all huffy and offended, not understanding why he isn't being thanked.

    6. THE FRENCH KISS OF DEATH

    Venom #11 (2004)

    Daniel Way's Venom series from the mid-00's is really, really bad and should not be read ever. It's mean-spirited, overly-complicated, and has nothing resembling payoff whatsoever. It's also a comic where Venom himself – at least the Eddie Brock incarnation – doesn't show up until the 11th issue. You see, the symbiote terrorizing everyone all this time is a clone. #11 starts a three-issue story that explains the clone's origin.

    It has to do with a fight where Venom beats on Spider-Man until the Fantastic Four arrive to stop him. At first, Thing is able to overpower Venom, until Venom fights back by making out with him...TO THE DEATH.

    Venom shoving his tongue down Thing's throat is one of the grosser things I've seen in a comic, but it actually serves its narrative purpose. Human Torch burns the tongue off and Thing coughs it up. A bystander picks the tongue up, brings it home and tries to sell it on eBay. He's immediately made a target by an old man made out of nannites who is really the force behind Noah's Ark and—oh my God, I don't want to get into any more of the plot of this series. Moving on.

    5. THE MOLOTOV COCKTAIL OF AWESOME

    Venom #13.4 (2012)

    During the Rick Remender Venom series, Flash Thompson Venom starred in a crossover called The Circle of Four. It's quite a brilliant little concept that took me a minute to grasp. In the 90s, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk, and Ghost Rider teamed up to become the New Fantastic Four. Here we have a similar grouping with Venom, X-23, Red Hulk, and the female Ghost Rider that everyone's completely forgotten about five minutes after her series ended.

    The four join forces to help save Las Vegas from the clutches of Blackheart, who is trying to create Hell on Earth. With the exception of X-23, the team joins together to make their own special version of Captain Planet, only more soul-shatteringly badass. Riding a giant motorcycle is Red Hulk, who has become the host for both the Spirit of Vengeance and the Venom symbiote. This is the cliffhanger before the final issue and it still makes me smile. I'm surprised the final issue isn't Blackheart throwing his hands up and saying, "Yeah, this isn't worth it. Sorry for all the trouble I caused, everyone," and going back to Hell where it's safer.

    4. THE GROSSEST OF MATING HABITS

    What If: The Other (2007)

    The What If issue based on the Other tells the tale of Peter Parker refusing to break out of his cocoon and embrace his inner-spider. The world and his loved ones think he's dead, so he's going to keep it that way. The Venom symbiote senses that Peter's body is just sitting around, unused, and leaves Mac Gargan's body. It attaches itself to Peter's husk and is pretty pleased with being one with its original and favorite host once again. Peter has no consciousness to speak of, so the symbiote is completely running the show. Calling himself Poison, the creature confronts Mary Jane and wants her to be his mate. She tells him off and he leaves her be.

    With Mary Jane not an option, Poison goes for an even grosser route. He spawns a symbiote offspring and uses it to control the rotting dead body of Gwen Stacy. You can thank Peter David for this piece of alien necrophilia incest. You can also thank him for...

    3. THE NOT-READY-FOR-PRIME-TIME SMASHERS

    Incredible Hulk vs. Venom (1994)

    This is a comic released by Unicef that deals with Venom and Hulk fighting each other and then teaming up because a series of earthquakes are tearing apart San Francisco. A mad scientist calling himself Dr. Bad Vibes (not the villain from the C.O.P.S. cartoon, I checked) insists that he's been causing the earthquakes with his earthquake machine. Hulk has the mind of one of the world's greatest scientists and Venom is an accomplished journalist. Truly, they can put their minds together and figure out a great strategy in stopping Bad Vibes' reign of terror before it's too late.

    Their plan is to quote Saturday Night Live.

    Yes, they go into a news broadcast to do a Hans and Franz impression, complete with clapping. Honest to God, when I first read this scene, I had to put down the comic, get up, and just walk away because I simply could not deal with this.

    2. DIAL-UP M FOR MURDER

    Venom: Carnage Unleashed #4 (1995)

    Thing with the symbiote is that the writers can tack on nearly any kind of ability and you can buy it because it's a blob from outer space that gives people super strength and copies Spider-Man's powers. Turns a car into a monster car? Sure, why not? Makes you immune to noxious gas? I buy it. Makes it harder for psychics to gain control? Makes sense to me.

    Larry Hama created the most outlandish use of the symbiote's abilities with his Carnage Unleashed storyline. Carnage Unleashed – a story created based on the success of the Maximum Carnage video game – is about a Carnage-based video game that's become a big deal. It's about to be launched to the public with online multiplayer and Carnage's plan is to use this to his advantage and kill as many players as possible. How? By using his brand-new power of using the symbiote to travel through the internet!

    The comic keeps stacking on more and more instances of, "Computers do not work that way!" that escalates to the point that Venom and Carnage are fighting inside cyberspace and it's being broadcast on the big screen in Time Square. Coincidentally, people are able to hear their banter despite, you know, there being no audio on that big screen. Venom wins when he sees a heat sink and destroys it, which causes a huge explosion that hurts them both and knocks them out of their computers. It is the stupidest, most glorious goddamn thing.

    1. THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

    All-Access #1 (1996)

    Ah, Access. For those of you who don't know or remember, Access was a superhero jointly owned by DC and Marvel whose job was to make sure that both worlds remained separate and don't bleed into each other. Considering they've been refusing to do a crossover since JLA/Avengers, it's been a pretty successful decade and a half. Way to go!

    Following the events of Marvel vs. DC, Access starred in his own miniseries based on keeping the peace via cosmic segregation. In the first issue, Venom finds himself in Metropolis and Ron Marz chooses to forget that Venom is supposed to be kind of a good guy around this time. Instead, Venom goes on a rampage until Superman and his post-resurrection mullet arrive. This should be a simple fight. Superman moves planets with his bare hands and Venom is just a stronger Spider-Man with a bucket full of weaknesses.

    Then Venom throws Superman around like a ragdoll. The two have several fights and each time, Venom absolutely humbles Superman, making him look like a complete joke. Access brings Spider-Man into the DC world to help fight Venom and even that isn't enough! Put Superman and Spider-Man together against one threat and he still kicks their asses.

    The only reason Venom loses is because Access shows up with a giant sonic cannon loaned from STAR Labs. Afterwards, Spider-Man tells Superman that Eddie Brock was never easy to get along with, what with him being a newspaper reporter. Then Spider-Man wonders why he's getting the silent glare.

    A great contrast to this story is the Spider-Man/Batman crossover from a year or so earlier. That comic features Batman beating Carnage in a straight-up fight. No sonics. No fire. Just lots of punches. Batman beat up Carnage, who regularly used to beat up Venom, who beat up Superman. Somewhere, a Batman fan is yelling at a Superman fan, "See?! I told you so!"


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    A theatrical version of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, penned by Aaron Sorkin no less, is now at the center of a nasty legal battle.

    News Nick HarleyDavid Crow
    Apr 24, 2018

    To Kill A Mockingbird is inspiring some real-life courtroom drama, which at this point looks increasingly destined for its own unhappy ending. Such are the latest developments of competing lawsuits between Tonja Carter, the legal representative of the Harper Lee estate, and Scott Rudin's theatrical production company, Rudinplay. Once a partnership that bore fruit for a new adaptation of Lee's seminal American novel, over the last month legal filings and lawsuits raise a dense cloud over whether Aaron Sorkin's new interpretation of the story of Atticus and Scout Finch will ever see the boards of Broadway later this year.

    In the latest devleopment, Carter's legal team has responded to the Rudin production company's own lawsuit, which asked a federal judge in the Southern District of New York last week to dismiss Carter's lawsuit in Alabama, by filing an injunction in Alabama that requests the New York lawsuit be essentially tabled until after the first lawsuit is decided in Alabama.

    "Both actions involve the Estate and Rudinplay, and the legal and factual issues substantially overlap," wrote Carter's lawyers of the lawfirm Bradley Arant in an emergency motion. "This Court should enjoin Rudinplay from further prosecuting its competing lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, so that the Court and the parties do not waste resources litigating the same issues in two different forums."

    This bad blood stems from Carter disliking apparent changes in the adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird made by Sorkin in the writing process. According to the earliest lawsuit filed in March, Sorkin and Rudin made substantial alterations to the characters, 1930s rural Alabama setting, and overall arc of Atticus' journey that left the Harper Lee estate dissatisfied. Rudinplay's response was to countersue in New York by stating that the lawsuit should be held in the state of the production, as well as suggesting that the estate does not have the ability to demand the halt of an adaptation. 

    For some context:

    On June 29, 2015, months prior to Lee’s death at the age of 89, Lee optioned a live stage version of her beloved novel to Rudin, with Rudin paying $100,000 plus a share of royalties for the right to adapt her work. Rudin hired acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin to pen the adaptation’s script.

    The contract that Rudin signed stated, “Author shall have the absolute and unconditional right to approve the Playwright for the Play. … Author shall also have the right to review the script of the Play and to make comments which shall be considered in good faith by the Playwright, and the Play shall not derogate or depart in any manner from the spirit of the Novel nor alter its characters. If the Author believes that the Play does so derogate or depart, or alter characters, Producer will be given notice thereof as soon as possible, and will be afforded an opportunity to discuss with Owner resolutions of any such concerns."

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    The representative from Lee’s estate, Tonja Carter, used an interview Sorkin gave to Vulture as the basis of her lawsuit. In the interview, Sorkin said, “As far as Atticus and his virtue goes, this is a different take on Mockingbird than Harper Lee's or [writer of the 1962 big-screen adaptation] Horton Foote's. He becomes Atticus Finch by the end of the play, and while he's going along, he has a kind of running argument with Calpurnia, the housekeeper, which is a much bigger role in the play I just wrote. He is in denial about his neighbors, and his friends and the world around him, that is as racist as it is, that a Maycomb County jury could possibly put Tom Robinson in jail when it's so obvious what happened here. He becomes an apologist for these people."

    Sorkin’s planned version definitely isn’t the truth north lawyer readers are familiar with, with Finch set to be a tad more naive. Carter’s other objections include addition of two characters not in the novel, the "alteration" of the characters of Jem and Scout Finch, and an “unfair” depiction of 1930s small-town Alabama.

    A spokesperson from Rudinplay issued the following statement about the original lawsuit in March:

    “This adaptation by Aaron Sorkin of To Kill a Mockingbird is a faithful adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel, which has been crafted within the constraints of the agreement executed by both Harper Lee and the play’s producers before Ms. Lee’s death. This action undertaken by the estate of Harper Lee is an unfortunate step in a situation where there is simply artistic disagreement over the creation of a play that Ms. Lee herself wanted to see produced, and is the kind of disagreement which one expects would be worked out easily between two parties who have a mutual interest in seeing a work produced. The estate has an unfortunate history of litigious behavior and of both filing and being the recipient of numerous lawsuits, and has been the subject of considerable controversy surrounding its handling of the work of Harper Lee both during her illness and after her death. This is, unfortunately, simply another such lawsuit, the latest of many, and we believe that it is without merit. While we hope this gets resolved, if it does not, the suit will be vigorously defended.​"

    Further, a new report from The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Rudin is floating that the cause of this lawsuit is legal friction between the estate of Harper Lee and the estate of Gregory Peck, who may have some say in presentations of Atticus Finch in theatrical productions.

    Since the dueling filings of the complaints, there's been a lot happening in the litigation including a declaration from Rudin where he theorizes that Carter's objections to Sorkin's script are a "pretense," designed to avoid liability to the estate of actor Gregory Peck, who played Atticus Finch in the 1962 film. Rudin says he doesn't know specifics of the supposed dispute between Peck's camp and the Harper Lee Estate, but passes along word he heard both were involved in an arbitration proceeding concerning stage rights to the novel.

    However this plays out, we can only hope everyone plays it as straight in court as Atticus himself.


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    Goosebumps 2 gets its official title, plus everything we know about the new film.

    News Chris LongoJoseph Baxter
    Apr 24, 2018

    Goosebumps 2 is arriving with more spooktacular cinematic goodness to reinvigorate the childhood memories of '90s kids and haunt a new generation. Now the film finally has an official title: Goosebumps Haunted Halloween.

    Sony released the title announcement teaser with the help of a Hollywood dummy.

    The first Goosebumps, based on R.L. Stine's children's horror series of the same name, was one of the best family films of 2015, and was a box office winner for Sony after raking in $156 million. Now the studio is gearing up for the sequel. In the latest report from Variety, actors Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ken Jeong, and Chris Parnell are circling the project. We'll update when we have official confirmation. Until then, here's everything we know about Goosebumps 2...

    Goosebumps 2 Release Date

    Goosebumps 2 has been goose-bumped to the later release date of October 12.

    With this move, as reported by Deadline, the sequel – previously booked for September 21 – will arrive conveniently closer to the genre-appropriate Halloween holiday.

    Interestingly enough, the date bump might just shed some light on the still-mysterious sequel status of star Jack Black. While reports from as recent as November implied that Black was not yet locked in to reprise his role as author R.L. Stine, the move away from the September 21 date seems to telegraph his return, since the actor will also appear in the September 21-scheduled gothic fantasy film, The House with a Clock in its Walls; a major production directed by gore auteur Eli Roth in which Black co-stars with Cate Blanchett and Kyle MacLachlan.

    Consequently, the moving of Goosebumps 2 away from that date to October 12 seems to imply that the studio is attempting to avoid awkward box office competition between two Jack Black films.

    Goosebumps 2 Details

    Goosebumps 2 has a new screenwriter, but it may be losing its star. According to Variety, Rob Lieber (whose credits include Disney's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) will pen the script for the Goosebumps sequel. His treatment, according to the trade, is believed to not involve Goosebumps star Jack Black.

    Back in May, it was reported that Goosebumps 2 was moving ahead with the title Goosebumps: Horrorland with a January 2018 release. At the time, it looked like Darren Lemke would reprise his screenwriting duties. Now that Lieber is tasked with penning the script, we’ll have to see if the title of the film changes, and what Black’s involvement is.

    Goosebumps 2 Cast

    The return of Jack Black, who starred as a fictionalized version of R.L. Stine, is still up in the air. Stars Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, and Ryan Lee are expected back for the sequel. Rob Letterman will return to direct.

    Variety reported that Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ken Jeong, and Chris Parnell will also join the cast of Goosebumps 2, though that's not officially confirmed yet. 


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    Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War have put Hulk front and center. We want more stories with the big green guy.

    Feature Marc Buxton
    Apr 25, 2018

    In the next few years, relatively obscure characters like Aquaman and Captain Marvel will get their shot on the big screen. Meanwhile, Hulk is still front and center in all the Avengers movies, right after he had some gladiatorial fun in Thor: Ragnarok.

    But a new Hulk solo movie? It doesn't look good.

    There are several reasons for this. Marvel shares distribution rights with Universal for any potential solo Hulk film which complicates things a little. Hey, if Marvel Studios and Sony can get together and deliver Peter Parker and the world of Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is not such a stretch to imagine that Marvel and Universal can find some common ground to deliver a Hulk solo movie, right?. But in the meantime, Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War will have to do the trick.

    But a new Hulk movie would have to be very different than any Hulk flick that came before it. There's only so many times you can work that tortured Jekyll/Hyde thing. But these stories that could make great Hulk movies, and some of 'em could even be spun as something other than Hulk solo movies, which might make things easier on Marvel Studios...

    Jarella

    Marvel and the concept of hero shrinkage (not like that you perv) have long gone together - even in the pages of The Incredible Hulk. One of the Hulk's greatest loves, Jarella, is the queen of a sub-atomic world known as K'ai. When the Hulk is shrunk to sub-atomic size by the villain known as Psyklop, he finds adventure and romance in a John Carter-like swashbuckling journey through Jarella's world.

    While on K'ai, the Hulk was hailed as a hero and fought microscopic boars and boa constrictors (which of course were huge to the even smaller Hulk) and who wouldn't want to see that awesomeness play out on the big screen? In addition to the innate coolness of this concept, Jarella and her world were created by Harlan Ellison and it would be beyond amazing to see Marvel exploit some of Ellison's comics work in film.

    Later, Jarella would return and become a major Hulk supporting character until her tragic death in Incredible Hulk #240. The Hulk is certainly not known as a romantic character (despite his recent cinematic liaison with the Black Widow), but the tale of Hulk and Jarella stands as one of the most poignant romances of Marvel's Bronze Age.

    Now, how is all this more than just another Hulk solo story you ask?

    Simple, instead of Psyklop, how about tying the Hulk's shrinkage to the world of Ant-Man and making a journey to Jarella's realm a buddy film between Marvel's biggest hero and its smallest?

    Hulk/Sub-Mariner

    Now, follow me here, this could get a little red tapey. The Hulk isn’t the only Marvel character that Universal has a stake in. The rights to Namor, the Sub-Mariner are also held by Universal so perhaps if Marvel Studios is to come to some sort of Sony like accord with Universal, the Sub-Mariner can come along for the ride. If Marvel and Universal were to try and package the Hulk and Namor together then they need look no further than Incredible Hulk#118. This Stan Lee/Herb Trimpe masterpiece is the most perfect Sub-Mariner/Hulk mash up ever.

    The book starts with an unconscious Hulk washing up on in Atlantis and found by Sub-Mariner's consort, the Lady Dorma. Enter Mistress Fera, a rival to Dorma for Namor's affections. Fera tells Namor that she has seen Dorma canoodling with the Hulk and the battle is on.

    Of course, any film adaptation of this particular issue would probably have to go a little farther than the machinations of a jilted lover causing the colossal struggle, but the battle between the Hulk and Sub-Mariner in this issue is pure majesty. If Marvel and Universal want a cinematic conflict between these two titans than the whole thing is masterfully storyboarded right here in this issue. This is probably all wishful thinking, but hey, if Aquaman makes DC and Warner Bros serious bank, the prospect of a Sub-Mariner film (especially packaged with the Hulk) will become a bit more compelling to those that hold the rights to Marvel's Golden Age great.

    Future Imperfect

    Marvel's Cinematic Universe hasn't gotten timey wimey yet, but if we do get some Marvel time travel at some point, then I can think of no better story to start the chronal madness than Future Imperfect.

    In this seminal event by legendary Hulk writer Peter David and legendary everything artist George Perez, the modern day Hulk travels to a dystopian future to take on that future's brutal dictator. The despot in question is none other than a bearded, futuristic version of the Hulk named Maestro.

    Future Imperfect is so big and involves so many Marvel characters that it could really be a huge event film. The Maestro could serve as a reminded just how dangerous the Hulk could be and also be a way for Marvel to tell a huge Hulk stories while presenting alternative versions of its favorite heroes. Plus, it's time Marvel starts exploring some of Peter David's work in other media as he was one of the best writers Marvel had to offer in the '80s and '90s.

    Hulk versus Hulk with the fate of the future of the Marvel Universe at stake, what more can a moviegoer ask for?

    Read Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect on Amazon

    The Pantheon Saga

    Speaking of Peter David, one of the scribe's most memorable arcs during his incredibly long run on The Incredible Hulk was the Pantheon saga. The Pantheon storyline ran for three years and put Bruce Banner's alter ego into some very new and surprising situations, situations that are cinematic enough in scope to be considered for a future film. The Pantheon were all super powered descendants of the half Asgardian/ half human god Agamemnon who led his team in its mission to protect humanity.

    Hell, after Hulk's recent adventures with the Asgardians in Thor: Ragnarok, that can be your way into this. The members of the Pantheon were all given enough foibles and motivation to come to the big screen fully formed and a Hulk/Thor meets high tech Greek demi-gods joint sounds big enough to us to solve the Hulk solo film conundrum.

    Read Incredible Hulk: Ghost of the Past on Amazon

    Indestructible Hulk

    Are you up for a Hulk: Agent of SHIELDfilm? You bet your purple pants you are! That's what Mark Waid's Indestructible Hulk essentially was.

    The high concept of this great book is Bruce Banner agreeing to allow SHIELD to use him as a weapon in the hottest of hot zones in exchange for funding his humanitarian efforts. Waid weaved the Hulk into some surprising settings such as time travel adventures, an adventure in Asgard, and even a team up between the Hulk and the Inhumans, any of which would make for some big budget and intriguing film fodder.

    Read Indestructible Hulk on Amazon

    Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man

    You want a Hulk movie to make some serious cash? Drop him in Jurassic Park. But since that's impossible, instead, how about teaming big green with Marvel's surefire superstar Iron Man.  

    Original Sin: Hulk Vs. Iron Man presented the perfect set up for a Hulk Vs. Iron Man battle. This series showed readers just how deeply Tony Stark and Bruce Banner were involved in each others' lives before they became Avengers. The series also put both characters' past sins on display and suggested that Tony Stark and his ego may just be responsible for the Hulk's existence.

    Fans have been clamoring to see more of the science bros since the first Avengersmovie and the HulkBuster Vs. Hulk battle in Avengers: Age of Ultron just solidified how awesome it is when these two marvels clash. Wrapping Hulk into an Iron Man film could be just the push the Green Goliath needs to take the character to the next level and it gives Marvel's most bankable star another chance to headline.

    Read Original Sin: Hulk vs. Iron Man on Amazon

    World War Hulk

    Just call it Avengers 5 if you want, but all the Hulk threads that began in the first Avengerscould culminate in World War Hulk. Marvel is going to need to go bigger and badder if it is to follow up Thanos and the Infinity War movies, and a revenge seeking post-Planet Hulk Banner is as big and bad as they come.

    If Marvel wants to fully exploit Hulk as a franchise character, then this tale of tragedy, betrayal, and revenge is the perfect blockbuster direction. The entire Marvel Universe versus the Hulk and his space armada, what else can you ask for? Many of the key players of this storyline, Iron Man, Black Panther, Black Bolt of the Inhumans, are already in place (or soon will be) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so the stage is set for World War Hulk- the biggest Hulk story of them all.

    Read World War Hulk on Amazon


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    With the end right around the corner in Avengers: Infinity War, it's a good time to consider... who has how much contractual time left?

    The Lists Rob LeaneNick Harley
    Apr 25, 2018

    This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

    Contains spoilers for all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films up to and including Black Panther.

    The Marvel Cinematic Universe is full of household names--some pre-established, and some that the studio made themselves. This is a franchise with so much star power that even small roles are taken by the likes of Glenn Close. Which is its own special kind of shame.

    Still, to maintain this level of impressive casting over its long-form storytelling style, Marvel Studios gets most of its cast members on multi-film contracts. We did some digging to find out how many films everyone has left. Where official information is available, we've used that as a source. We've tried to fill in the gaps with our own guesswork. We'll keep this incredibly long list up-to-date as we learn more.

    The Avengers

    ROBERT DOWNEY JR.

    Tony Stark / Iron Man

    Films appeared in so far: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk(cameo),Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War and the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4

    The first superhero that Marvel Studios presented us with was Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark – a casting masterstroke that would become the benchmark for all future Marvel heroes. At the moment, RDJ is only scheduled for Spider-Man: Homecoming and Infinity War, with the latter possibly writing him into super-retirement. Could he continue as a consultant past that point? Well, Marvel would probably need to renegotiate.

    CHRIS EVANS

    Steve Rogers / Captain America

    Films appeared in so far: Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World(cameo),Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming (cameo)

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4

    It’s widely known that Chris Evans has expressed an interest in departing superheroics to focus on film directing instead. More recently though he's been speaking openly about being up for anything that Marvel want to do with Cap.

    CHRIS HEMSWORTH

    Thor

    Films appeared in so far: Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: Ragnarok

    Confirmed upcoming films:  Avengers: Infinity War and the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4

    Despite not appearing in Civil War, Thor actor Chris Hemsworth was still very much in the Marvel fold. And after Ragnarok, he can finally be considered an MVP. Now he has two more films lined up, as far as we know. Maybe one day he'll pass on the hammer to someone else, but that won't happen any time soon, as he has expressed interest in doing a Thor 4past his current contract, complete with a possible return of Taika Waititi as director.

    MARK RUFFALO

    Bruce Banner / The Hulk

    Films appeared in so far: The Avengers, Iron Man 3 (cameo), Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: Ragnarok

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War and the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4

    Mark Ruffalo has made no secret of the six-film deal that Marvel has him on. Seeing as cameos don’t count towards that, he still has three films left, making him among the few stars of the original Avengers movies who is on the hook for continuing past "Phase 3" and Kevin Feige's fabled Avengers 4 finale. This is all great news, however the solo movie is still not happening.

    related article: Hulk Movies Marvel Should Make

    SCARLETT JOHANSSON

    Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow

    Films appeared in so far: Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War andAvengers 4

    There’s isn’t an official answer out there on how many Marvel movies Johansson’s Black Widow has left. She said her contract has "morphed" and "mutated" in recent years when Collider asked. She's since been confirmed for Avengers: Infinity War. Hopefully, she'll still one day get that solo movie.

    Since the official cast list for Infinity War's sequel hasn't been fully announced yet, we can't really confirm which characters will and will not stick around, yet paparazzi photos of Johnasson in Atlanta aroudn the time of Avengers 4's filming suggests she'll be back. Kevin Feige has now also (finally) teased a Black Widow solo movie is a possibility past Phase 3, so there seems to be an interest in getting Johnasson to reup after her contract is up.

    JEREMY RENNER

    Clint Barton / Hawkeye

    Films appeared in so far: Thor (cameo), The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity WarAvengers 4

    Renner is believed to have a standalone Hawkeye movie on his contract, but that doesn’t seem very close to happening. We totally support his avenging though, which is handy because he is onboard for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4. Further he will only have been in five MCU films in a non-cameo capacity after Avengers 4, and as the standard contract is (at least) six movies, we imagine he'll turn up for at least one more bullseye after 2019.

    DON CHEADLE

    James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes / War Machine / Iron Patriot

    Films appeared in so far: Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4

    While it is hardly confirmed that War Machine will be appearing in anything after 2018's crossover epic, Gwyneth Paltrow already let slip she's enjoying working with Don Cheadle on the set of Avengers 4.

    ANTHONY MACKIE

    Sam Wilson / Falcon

    Films appeared in so far: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War

    Anthony Mackie is in Infinity War. He confirmed his involvement by chatting about the script and Falcon's place in it at a Wizard World event. However, there is no word yet whether he will be involved in the fourth Avengers movie, even though he almost certainly has more films left on his contract, as the standard deal is six movies (he'll have appeared in five after 2018). Mackie also previously joked about signing a contract for "like 50" movies.

    ELIZABETH OLSEN

    Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch

    Films appeared in so far:  Captain America: The Winter Soldier (cameo) Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War

    "We'll get to see where she goes in Infinity War," director Joe Russo told Comicbook.com recently on the topic of Scarlet Witch. It seems safe to assume she'll appear in Avengers 4 given that she is a fan favorite who has only appeared in two major films (plus they've already killed off one Maximoff). But time will tell.

    PAUL BETTANY

    J.A.R.V.I.S. / The Vision

    Films appeared in so far: As J.A.R.V.I.S.: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ulton. As The Vision: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War.

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War, apparently Avengers 4

    The exact length of Bettany's contract is unknown, however, he does appear to be in both upcoming Avengers movies. This is good news for fans, as the fact that he has an Infinity Stone in his forehead that imbues him with life--and that Thanos will inevitably rip that from him in Infinity War--is by definition quite vexing. However, Bettany let it slip to Collider that he is going to be involved in shooting Avengers 4. If he signed a new contract beginning with Age of Ultron, he also could conceivably be in at least two more Marvel movies after 2019.

    PAUL RUDD

    Scott Lang / Ant-Man

    Films appeared in so far: Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War

    Confirmed upcoming films:Ant-Man and the Wasp, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4

    His days of breaking into places and stealing shit are done. Instead Scott Lang will have to find something else to do in Ant-Man's sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp

    Rudd has described his contract as ‘three-plus-plus’ deal, which should see him hanging around for quite a while. He's listed on multiple variations of the cast list for Infinity War, and has appeared in a charity video from the set of Avengers 4.

    related article: Every Marvel Easter Egg in Ant-Man

    EVANGELINE LILLY

    Hope van Dyne / Wasp

    Films appeared in so far: Ant-Man

    Confirmed upcoming films: Ant-Man and the Wasp and Avengers 4

    Ant-Man and the Wasp will send Lilly's character Hope Van Dyne into full superhero mode. That film takes place after Infinity War, leaving Hope / the Wasp to join the team-up party in Avengers 4.

    CHADWICK BOSEMAN

    T’Challa / Black Panther

    Films appeared in so far: Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4

    Word on the street is that Chadwick Boseman has signed up for five films. And after his tremendous debut as a franchise lead in Black Panther, we imagine we'll be seeing him in more than just one film after Avengers 4.

    related article: Marvel's Black Panther Movie Should Go Right to the Source

    TOM HOLLAND

    Peter Parker / Spider-Man

    Films appeared in so far: Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming 

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4, Untitled Spider-Man: Homecoming Sequel (co-produced with Sony)

    Tom Holland has said he signed a six-film contract, and we know that he will be with the Avengers until the end of Phase Three at least. He also has one Homecoming sequel already well into production and while it is murky, it seems likely Sony and Marvel Studios will continue their collaboration into a third Homecoming movie. After that though the future is less certain for the wallcrawler since Sony and Marvel would have to come to a new deal.

    BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH

    Doctor (Stephen) Strange

    Films appeared in so far: Doctor Strange, Thor: Ragnarok (cameo)

    Confirmed Upcoming Films:Avengers: Infinity War, Probably Avengers 4

    Doctor Strange is in Avengers: Infinity War. He's even in the trailer! He is not officially confirmed for the 2019 follow-up, however. But as he has a stunt double listed on IMDb, we imagine it's a good bet to continue expecting the Sorcerer Supreme, especially as he likely signed the standard six movie contract (which was apparently a sticking point that led to Joquin Phoenix backing out of the role).

    BRIE LARSON

    Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel

    Films appeared in so far: None

    Confirmed upcoming films: Captain Marvel and Avengers 4

    The Academy Award winning actress will be making her Marvel debut in her own (overdue) movie in 2019's Captain Marvel. However, that spring release is a prequel of sorts to most of the MCU, as it takes place in the 1990s. This likely means it will be a precursor of sorts to the conclusion of the Infinity crisis in Avengers 4, where Captain Marvel will cross paths with fellow Avengers.

    Guardians Of The Galaxy

    CHRIS PRATT

    Peter Quill / Star-Lord

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2        

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

    After the release of the first Guardians, Pratt told GQ that he's signed up for "two more Guardians plus another couple.”

    Pratt has since featured in Guardians 2, and is confirmed to be working on Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4. Also, Guardians 3 has already been announced with writer-director James Gunn teasing on Facebook that the threequel "will conclude the story of this iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy."

    So we imagine that there may be some new contracts drawn up after Guardians 3.

    ZOE SALDANA

    Gamora

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2       

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

    She’s said nothing about her contract publically, but we know she's in Infinity War and Avengers 4. The original Guardians gang will return for Vol. 3.

    DAVE BAUTISTA

    Drax

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2       

    Confirmed upcoming films:Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

    Dave Bautista also hasn’t said much about his contract in the public realm, but we can glean his next two Marvel projects from the info available. It’s actually Thanos he needs to kill, so we're particularly looking forward to his appearance in Infinity War.


    SEAN GUNN

    Body of Rocket / Kraglin

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2        

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

    One of the Guardians franchise's unsung heroes is Sean Gunn, who portrays the physical form of Rocket Racoon via motion capture and improvises a fair few lines. He also plays the Ravager-turned-Guardian Kraglin, noted for yelling “Captain’s gotta teach stuff!” in the first film.

    The length of his Marvel contract is unclear, but he’s definitely back for Guardians 3 and Infinity War. It remains to be seen if he'll be any better with Yondu's whistling weaponry by then.


    BRADLEY COOPER

    Voice of Rocket

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2        

    Confirmed upcoming films:Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

    Finding the right voice for Rocket was a difficult one, with various comedians, voice actors, and film stars all coming in to read test lines. In the end, Marvel went with Bradley Cooper, and we expect they got him on a long contract. At the very least, we'll hear his voice in the next Guardians and two Avengers movies.


    VIN DIESEL

    Voice of Groot

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2     

    Confirmed upcoming films:  Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

    As above, see here. Vin Diesel will return in Avengers 3 and 4, and Guardians 3. Beyond that is a mystery, and so are the exact specifics of his contract.

    POM KLEMENTIEFF

    Mantis

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

    This powerful empath joined the Guardians gang in Vol. 2, and is lined up for Infinity War and presumably the two other Guardians-heavy movies after that. Also if she signed a six film contract, she may be in the next version of the Guardians too.

    KAREN GILLAN

    Nebula

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

    Confirmed upcoming films:Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4

    "I have so many plans for Nebula… I love Nebula," director James Gunn told Yahoo. "To me, she’s the Boba Fett of the movie… She’s the one that you really dig because she’s the cool one that we need to get more of. I hope to God that we get a chance to see a lot more of Nebula."

    It's since been confirmed that she'll be back for Infinity War, and she later confirmed to us at Den of Geek that she'll be in Avengers 4. Depending on what happens with her and Thanos' arcs in that one, it could make sense for Guardians 3. We'll have to wait and see.

    MICHAEL ROOKER

    Yondu

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    Michael Rooker has been listed on a few cast rundowns for Infinity War, but it's unclear if that was just a ruse to protect the spoiler that Yondu dies in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. We suspect it was. His send-off in Guardians 2 felt pretty final, didn't it?

    Saying that, we'd welcome any dream sequences that Rooker wants to appear in.


    SYLVESTER STALLONE AND THE REST

    Starhawk And The 'Original' Guardians of the Galaxy

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    Sly Stallone debuted as Stakar Ogord--aka Starhawk--in Vol. 2 with a brief performance that culminated in a post-credits scene. Therein, Starhawk and his shiny friend Martinex (Michael Rosenbaum) met up with Aleta Ogord (Michelle Yeoh), Charlie-27 (Ving Rhames), Krugarr and Mainframe (the latter of whom is voiced by Miley Cyrus). 

    In the comics, this gang were the original Guardians team that existed before Star-Lord's team. In the film universe, they are Ravager faction leaders that used to be firm friends. They have plans to steal some shit, but it remains to be seen which film that will happen in.

    "My plan is to see more of him," director James Gunn told the Toronto Sun, talking about Sly's character, but he wouldn't be drawn on how/when this will shake out. 

    "I’m not sure about him appearing in Vol. 3," Gunn said, "We’ll have to see about that, but it’s our plan to see more of Stallone. Kevin [Feige, MCU overlord] and I are working on what is going to become of the Marvel Cosmic Universe and where it’s going to go. We plan to see the rest of them in the future."

    The "rest of them" he mentioned, presumably, are the Ravager chums that Starhawk met up with at the end. Color us intrigued. 

    related article: A Movie Fan's Guide to Guardians of the Galaxy Comics

    Villains

    JOSH BROLIN

    Thanos

    Films appeared in so far: The Avengers (cameo), Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron (cameo).

    Confirmed upcoming films:Avengers: Infinity War

    While there isn’t a specific number out there, it’s assumed that Marvel has Josh Brolin on one of Marvel's heftiest contracts. He’ll dominate Phase 3, for sure, thanks to Infinity War. It's unclear right now if Thanos will still be around for Avengers 4, which was stripped of its Infinity War Part II title and hasn't yet been given a new one.

    Either way, Thanos could well have cameos and mentions in other Phase 3 films, despite skipping Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. We wouldn't even be surprised if he cameoed in Captain Marvel, never mind the likelihood of him appearing in Avengers 4.

    related article: What to Expect from Avengers: Infinity War

    TOM HIDDLESTON

    Loki

    Films appeared in so far: Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok

    Confirmed upcoming films:Avengers: Infinity War 

    He’s believed to be on a six-film deal, so we’d expect two more films after Ragnarok. Which ones, though? One is definitely Infinity War, so the sequel to that also seems apt yet remains unconfirmed.

    SEBASTIAN STAN

    James ‘Bucky’ Barnes / The Winter Soldier

    Films appeared in so far: Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther (cameo)

    Confirmed upcoming films:Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4

    He’s on a nine-film contract! We know from the trailer he is in Infinity War, and actor Sebastian Stan has since confirmed to Cinema Blend that he is in Avengers 4. That leaves four more movies on his contract. Could we be headed for Captain America: The Next Generation?


    ELIZABETH DEBICKI

    Ayesha

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    Elizabeth Debicki's golden villainess (although, arguably, she did have an understandable motive for hating the Guardians) will obviously return at some point. Once her creation Adam [Warlock, one assumes] is cast, we'll add him to this list.

    Where Marvel plans to slot them in remains a mystery.


    KURT RUSSELL

    Ego

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    He's immortal and a Marvel character, so there's every chance that Ego's death from Guardians 2 could be undone at some point. But, as far as we know, there are no further Marvel films on Russell's slate right now.

    MICHAEL KEATON

    Adrian Toomes / The Vulture

    Films appeared in so far: Spider-Man: Homecoming

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    Micheal Keaton played Adrian Toomes / The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming. This could well be a recurring role, especially if Sony decides to resurrect its Sinister Six flick at some point. Given his positive reception and the post-credits stinger to Homecoming, we find it highly unlikely we've seen the last of Toomes in this universe.

    WILLIAM HURT

    General Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross

    Films appeared in so far: The Incredible Hulk and Captain America: Civil War

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    One of the big surprises of Civil War's cast was the return of William Hurt to the MCU. Since he played an important role in that film, he could well return again. The actual length of his contract is a mystery though.

    ANDY SERKIS

    Ulysses Klaue

    Films appeared in so far: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Black Panther

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    Andy Serkis' cuttlefish-hating baddie returned for a nasty supporting role in Black Panther. One that also appeared very final after Killmonger put two in his chest. It is Marvel, so anything is possible, but him getting bagged and tagged seemed like the end of the road for this former hobbit's journey.

    MICHAEL B. JORDAN

    Erik Killmonger

    Films appeared in so far: Black Panther

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    Marvel made waves when they announced that Creed star Michael B. Jordan would be joining the MCU to face off against Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther. The film saw Jordan will be reunite with his Creed and Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler. And honestly, we think he turned out to be the best villains Marvel ever produced. But some of that power comes in his final line about welcoming death over bondage. While, again, Marvel can undo most deaths, that one seemed too powerful to revisit. It seems pretty one and done to us.

    DANIEL BRUHL

    Helmut Zemo

    Films appeared in so far: Captain America: Civil War

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    He's still alive at the end of Civil War, so don't rule out a comeback for Zemo at some point. However, Bruhl hasn't let slip the details of his Marvel contract at this stage.

    CHIWETEL EJIOFOR

    Baron Mordo

    Films appeared in so far: Doctor Strange

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    Chiwetel Ejiofor played one of Stephen Strange's tutors in the mystical arts in the Doctor Strange movie, building up to a huge heel turn right at the end of the movie. That post-credits scene needs to be resolved at some point.

    As it stands, though, Marvel has yet to find space for Doctor Strange 2 in its slate. If/when it's finally announced, we'll be sure to update this article.

    MADS MIKKELSEN

    Kaecilius

    Films appeared in so far: Doctor Strange

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    The Hannibal star made the best of a not-particularly-great villain role in Doctor Strange, but if he has any Marvel plans beyond that, they're being kept under wraps. We wouldn't be surprised if he was a one-and-done baddie, to be honest.

    CATE BLANCHETT

    Hela

    Films appeared in so far: Thor: Ragnarok

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    Blanchett played the Goddess of Death in Thor 3, and some sources are already suggesting that she might stick around for supporting villain duties in Infinity War. We'll keep you posted on that front, because she was a hammy good time in Thor, and her fate seemed ambigiuous as Asgard went boom, to say the least.

    FRANK GRILLO

    Brock Rumlow / Crossbones

    Films appeared in so far: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    After Winter Soldier came out, Grillo told Collider this: “I have a multi-contract deal with Marvel. The movie was an origin film for that character. If you know the comic, he has a significant presence. So, knock wood. With Marvel, you can’t say very much, but I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll have some fun in the next few Marvel movies.”

    Could he somehow bounce back despite the very explode-y events of Civil War, then? Time will tell.

    MICHAEL CHERNUS

    Phineas Mason / Tinkerer 

    Films appeared in so far: Spider-Man: Homecoming

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    A recognizable, if fairly minor, Spider-Man villain, Michael Chernus' (Orange is the New Black) Tinkerer will likely be on hand to help more baddies in the future.

    BOKEEM WOODBINE

    Herman Schultz / Shocker

    Films appeared in so far: Spider-Man: Homecoming

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    He barely became the Shocker in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Marvel has to have bigger plans for this guy, right? 

    TIM ROTH

    Emil Blonsky / The Abomination

    Films appeared in so far: The Incredible Hulk

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    They had him on a three-picture deal, but the lack of standalone action for the Hulk seems to negate the need for an Abomination return. Perhaps that could change one day, especially given that William Hurt returned for Civil War.

    SAM ROCKWELL

    Justin Hammer

    Films appeared in so far: Iron Man 2, "All Hail The King" (short) 

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    “Ah! I was hoping to come back in one of the Avengers films and come after Gwyneth Paltrow, because that's what they set-up, that I was going to get revenge on Gwyneth for getting me arrested or something,” Rockwell told Vulture of a possible Marvel return.

    “I could do a Cape Fear thing with Gwyneth. But they've got a lot of mojo in there already, so I don't know if they need another pirate like me in the mix there! [Laughs.] Maybe S.H.I.E.L.D. is the way to go.” We’d color this one as unlikely, in all fairness.

    related article: 25 Iron Man Villains Who Deserve to be in the Movies

    HUGO WEAVING

    Johann Shmidt / Red Skull

    Films appeared in so far: Captain America: The First Avenger

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    Hugo Weaving told Collider: “I [signed a multi-picture deal] for Captain America. I think the tendency, with those films, would be to probably not bring a villain back. […] And it’s not something I would want to do again. I’m glad I did it. I did sign up for a number of pictures and I suppose, contractually, I would be obliged to, if they forced me to, but they wouldn’t want to force someone to do it, if they didn’t want to. I think I’ve done my dash with that sort of film.”

    We probably won’t see him again, then. The Red Skull could be recast, though, if necessary.

    S.H.I.E.L.D. Personnel (and retirees)

    SAMUEL L. JACKSON

    Nick Fury

    Films appeared in so far: Iron Man (cameo), Iron Man 2, Thor (cameo), Captain America: The First Avenger (cameo), The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron (cameo)

    Confirmed upcoming films: Captain Marvel and Avengers 4

    On the press tour for Kong: Skull Island, Samuel L. Jackson told MTV he is yet to receive a call for Infinity War. It is hard to tell if that is just industry spin to keep it a surprise, but he has his eyepatch already plenty busy. He is confirmed to have a supporting role in the 1990s-set Captain Marvel, and he is also expected back for Avengers 4, which appears to conclude what Nick Fury began in The Avengers. So whether there is an Infinity War cameo in between all of that is perhaps moot.

    CLARK GREGG

    Phil Coulson

    Films appeared in so far: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, "The Consultant" (short), "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer" (short), Thor, The Avengers

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    As you already know, Coulson has been reprised by Clark Gregg in Agents Of SHIELD on TV. But will he ever get to reunite with his heroes on the big screen? Apparently, he was considered to appear in Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, but it looks like the movie universe will continue to avoid Coulson for the foreseeable future. 

    COBIE SMULDERS

    Maria Hill

    Films appeared in so far: The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    At the time of The Avengers, Smulders said she was signed on for “plus this one, seven more I think.” By our counting, she should have five films left by now.

    She’s didn't appear in Civil War though, so we’re not sure where we’ll see her next. We’re assuming--like Samuel L. Jackson--that her Agents Of SHIELD cameos don’t count toward the seven. Her next Marvel appearance is currenly unknown. She's rumored for Infinity War though.

    HAYLEY ATWELL

    Peggy Carter

    Films appeared in so far: Captain America: The First Avenger, "Agent Carter" (short), Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man (cameo)

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    With Peggy Carter dead in the modern timeline, it's not seeming likely that Hayley Atwell will return in any more big screen Marvel films. There could feasibly be more flashbacks, but there are no plans at present of which we know.

    related article: A Guide to Agent Carter Comics

    DOMINIC COOPER

    Younger Howard Stark

    Films appeared in so far: Captain America: The First Avenger, "Agent Carter" (short) 

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    We’d wager that Marvel may have had Dominic Cooper on a one-film deal, seeing as they don’t seem to have plans to return to the WWII era on the big screen. His appearances on the Agent Carter TV series prove that he's game for more if Marvel is, however.

    JOHN SLATTERY

    Older Howard Stark

    Films appeared in so far: Iron Man 2, Ant-Man (cameo), Captain America: Civil War

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    How’s that for a gap between appearances? Marvel may not have John Slattery on a massive contract, but he could pop up again if Marvel delves into more flashbacks. 

    MICHAEL DOUGLAS

    Hank Pym

    Films appeared in so far: Ant-Man

    Confirmed upcoming films: Ant-Man and the Wasp

    Michael Douglas has regrown the goatee that is Hank Pym's signature for Ant-Man and the Wasp. Apparently, he was only on a one-film contract to start with, so Marvel had to strike up a new deal to bring him back.

    EMILY VAN CAMP

    Sharon Carter / Agent 13

    Films appeared in so far: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War

    Confirmed upcoming films: None  

    "They're just sort of planting the seed for this character," Van Camp told MTV. "I think Marvel likes to sprinkle little bits of things for fans, and anyone who is a Captain America fan will know that Agent 13 is Sharon Carter."

    While she hasn't told the world how long her contract is, we'd expect her to be back multiple times.

    AARON HIMELSTEIN

    Cameron Klein

    Films appeared in so far: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron 

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    The unsung hero of two Marvel films--he refused to launch the ships for Brock Rumlow in The Winter Soldier and got those Helicarrier’s "full of people" in Age of Ultron. Unsurprisingly, there’s no word out there on whether Marvel has signed Aaron Himelstein up for more appearances yet.

    At the very least, Marvel could recruit him for TV. Or could he be a second-generation Coulson-alike, recruiting new heroes for the greater good in Phase 3? Okay, our S.H.I.E.L.D. speculation may have gone too far.

    Supporting Stars

    ANTHONY HOPKINS

    Odin

    Films appeared in so far: Thor: Ragnarok

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    That scene in Ragnarok seemed pretty final, didn't it? Not unless he's just "sleeping" again. It's not like Odin has proven himself to be very forthright or trustworthy when it comes to sweating the details of things.


    SETH GREEN

    Howard The Duck

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy (cameo), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (cameo)

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    It's unclear if Seth Green is on any sort of official contract, but MCU overlord Kevin Feige was quoted as saing this this recently: "You know, the fun thing about Howard is he shows up where you least expect him, so like who knows where he’s going to appear next?"

    We'd expect those cameos to keep coming, then. He's like the waterfowl version of Stan Lee. 

    GWYNETH PALTROW

    Pepper Potts

    Films appeared in so far: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming (cameo) 

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4 

    While her contract concluded with Iron Man 3, she and Marvel have clearly come to some amicable arrangements. After seemingly (and lamely) being written out off-screen in Captain America: Civil War, she appeared for a fan-pleasing cameo in Spider-Man: Homeocming. She also has talked gamely about appearing in the final two slated Avengers films. 

    related article: A Movie Fan's Guide to Marvel Comics

    NATALIE PORTMAN

    Jane Foster

    Films appeared in so far: Thor, Thor: The Dark World 

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    Natalie Portman didn't return for Thor: Ragnarok. In fact, Portman told The Wall Street Journal that she's "done" with Marvel altogether, as far as she knows. While a final cameo in Avengers 4 wouldn't be amiss, there does not appear to be much love lost in this relationship.

    JON FAVREAU

    Happy Hogan

    Films appeared in so far: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4

    It came as a bit of a surprise to us--what with Jon Favreau's manifold other projects as an actor/director--but Happy Hogan returned alongside Tony Stark in Spider-Man: Homecoming. He apparently has at least cameos teed up in the next two Avengers movies as well.

    ZENDAYA

    Michelle

    Films appeared in so far: Spider-Man: Homecoming

    Confirmed upcoming films: Spider-Man: Homecoming Sequel

    As the love interest to Tom Holland's Peter Parker, Zendaya's Michelle debuted in the 2017 solo Spidey flick. While a return is not official, she did sign on for a contract and has indicated that she is set to return for the untitled 2019 sequel.

    DONALD GLOVER

    Aaron Davis

    Films appeared in so far: Spider-Man: Homecoming

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    As the uncle of the kid who will become the second Spider-Man, we doubt we've seen the last of this lovable (and ever growing in popularity) actor, writer, musician, and all around pop culture renaissance man.

    JUDY GREER / ABBY RYDER FORTSON

    Maggie / Cassie Lang

    Films appeared in so far: Ant-Man 

    Confirmed upcoming films: Ant-Man and the Wasp 

    We’d expect Scott’s estranged family to appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp, including Judy Greer and impressive child actress Abby Ryder Fortson.

    MARISA TOMEI

    May Parker

    Films appeared in so far: Captain America: Civil War andSpider-Man: Homecoming

    Confirmed upcoming films: Probably theSpider-Man: Homecoming Sequel

    It hasn't been confirmed Aunt May will return for the untitled Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel... but she has to.

    WILLIAM SADLER

    President Ellis

    Films appeared in so far: Iron Man 3

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    The MCU's POTUS has popped up on Agents Of SHIELD since debuting in Iron Man 3. He was also seen in a photo during The Winter Soldier. It doesn't sound like Marvel is finished with him yet then.

    LUPITA NYONG'O

    Nakia

    Films appeared in so far: Black Panther

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    The Oscar winning Lupita Nyong'o joined the MCU as Nakia, a Wakandan secret agent and patriot. It was one of several standout roles for women in that movie, and was a refreshingly meaty part in a blockbuster for Nyong'o, who has too often been cast as CG characters or voices. However, her continued involvement likely depends on Black Panther's in the MCU. But after the box office performance of Black Panther, it looks like a long continued role, indeed.

    DANAI GURIRA

    Okoye

    Films appeared in so far: Black Panther

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War

    As a general and head of the Dora Milaje, the serect service of Wakanda, Gurira keeps her record playing characters you don't want to mess with going. We already know she will fight alongside her king and the Avengers in Infinity War, but considering what a breakout she was in Black Panther, we expect to see a lot more of her soon enough.

    LETITA WRIGHT

    Shuri

    Films apepared in so far:  Black Panther

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War

    Another breakout star of Black Panther is the young Letita Wright, who portrays the little sister of T'Challa and is by definition a princess of Wakanda. However, she is not defined by her royal lineage, but by being potentially the smartest genius in the MCU, and a woman who can give Tony Stark a run for his money. A tech whiz with Wakanda's vibranium, she plays Q to T'Challa's Bond, designing all of his weapons. She is set to at least cameo in Infinity War, but we imagine she'll do more than that soon enough. If Marvel is smart (and they're not dumb...), she's on a long contract.

    MARTIN FREEMAN

    Everett Ross

    Films appeared in so far: Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther

    Confirmed upcoming films: Black Panther

    Ah, now here is the almost certain heir apparent to Agent Coulson. After having a bit part as a CIA wiseass in Civil War, he was rather cleverly cast in the "token" role in Black Panther, and made the most of it. The odd chemistry between him and T'Challa makes Ross an almost certain lock for appearing in the eventual Black Panther sequel (there is no way he was on only a two-film contract), but we wouldn't be shocked if he starts popping up in all sorts of MCU movies after Phase Three ends, like the good ol' days of Coulson.

    STELLAN SKARSGARD

    Erik Selvig

    Films appeared in so far: Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War

    The mighty Stellan Skarsgård told us exclusively that he's on a five-film deal with Marvel, and that he only has one more film to go as the scientist Erik Selvig (unless he and Marvel manage to negotiate an extension). It'll apparently be Avengers: Infinity War.

    KAT DENNINGS

    Darcy Lewis

    Films appeared in so far: Thor, Thor: The Dark World

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    At one point, we would have said Kat Dennings was a shoo-in for Ragnarok, now it appears unlikely she'll be returning to the MCU despite probably still having more movies on her contract.

    JONATHAN HOWARD

    Ian Boothby

    Films appeared in so far: Thor: The Dark World 

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    Same as Dennings above.

    JAIMIE ALEXANDER

    Lady Sif

    Films appeared in so far: Thor, Thor: The Dark World 

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    Jamie Alexander was invited to return for a one or two-day shoot for a cameo in Thor: Ragnarok but apparently could not make it work due to scheduling conflicts with her NBC series Blindspot. Talk about a fortuitous delay since if she had returned for Ragnarok, she would have been as blandly and unceremoniously killed off as the rest of the Warriors Three. Kevin Feige has even mused that it leaves the fate of Sif open to revisiting in a later sequel. Sometimes delays are our friends.

    Idris Elba

    IDRIS ELBA

    Heimdall

    Films appeared in so far: Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor: Ragnarok 

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    Contract length undisclosed. But given that he was the lone supporting cast member beside Tom Hiddleston from the original Thor, who hasn't been abruptly killed off, Marvel clearly still has plans for this underused thespian.


    JEFF GOLDBLUM

    Grandmaster

    Films appeared in so far: Thor: Ragnarok

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    The Grandmaster is chums with The Collector in the comics. In the movies, all we know is that he's played by Jeff Goldblum, he looks amazing, and he orchestrates the bout betwixt the Hulk and Thor. No clue if Goldblum signed up for more. 

    TESSA THOMPSON

    Valkyrie

    Films appeared in so far: Thor: Ragnarok

    Confirmed upcoming films: Possibly Avengers: Infinity War

    This Creed star made a huge splash in Thor: Ragnarok, playing an ancient warrior woman who also had a touch of Han Solo scoundrel in her demeanor. She landed so well, rumor has it she is getting at least a cameo in Avengers: Infinity War, but this is not confirmed.

    GLENN CLOSE

    Nova Prime

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy 

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    There wasn't space for Nova Corps in Vol. 2 in the end, and it remains to be seen if/when Glenn Close and her cohorts will return to the MCU.

    JOHN C. REILLY

    Rhomann Dey

    Films appeared in so far: Guardians of the Galaxy 

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    Since Nova's involvement in the MCU going forward is unclear, we've no idea what the chances of John C. Reilly returning are.

    BENICIO DEL TORO 

    The Collector

    Films appeared in so far: Thor: The Dark World (cameo), Guardians of the Galaxy 

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War

    He "just didn't fit" into Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, according to James Gunn, but we doubt we've seen the last of The Collector in the MCU. He's already shot some material for Infinity War, which makes sense, given that--as far as we know--he's still the proud owner of the Aether Infinity Stone.


    MICHAEL PENA / T.I. / DAVID DASTMALCHIAN

    Criminal Trio

    Films appeared in so far: Ant-Man

    Confirmed upcoming films: Ant-Man and the Wasp

    When Collider asked, Michael Pena wasn’t sure if he had signed for three or five movies. It seems a fair assumption, then, that we'll see these guys return for Ant-Man's sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp.

    TILDA SWINTON 

    The Ancient One

    Films appeared in so far: Doctor Strange

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    Swinton's first MCU appearance came in Doctor Strange. It might also be her last, barring a resurrection or a dream sequence or some sort of magic vision thingy.

    RACHEL MCADAMS

    Christine Palmer

    Films appeared in so far: Doctor Strange

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    If Doctor Strange 2 does happen (which it surely will, eventually), we'd expect Rachel McAdams to return. She's not disclosed her contract details publicly. 

    BENEDICT WONG

    Wong

    Films appeared in so far: Doctor Strange

    Confirmed upcoming films: Avengers: Infinity War

    You saw the trailer. Wong is back and saving the day as usual.

    Extreme long shot potential returnees

    TIM BLAKE NELSON

    Samuel Sterns

    Films appeared in so far: The Incredible Hulk 

    Confirmed upcoming films: None 

    This bumbling scientist was meant to become The Leader, but never did. Tim Blake Nelson signed a three-picture deal to transform into said supervillain. That arc was pretty much written out in The Avengers' tie-in comic Fury’s Big Week though.

    TY BURRELL

    Leonard Samson

    Films appeared in so far: The Incredible Hulk

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    Hulk’s psychiatrist becomes a hero in his own right in the comics. At this stage though, if Marvel make another Hulk movie, it’ll probably be a clean slate supporting cast wise. William Hurt made a comeback, however, so who knows? Burrell is surely on a multi-film contract like Tim Blake Nelson.

    LIV TYLER

    Betty Ross

    Films appeared in so far: The Incredible Hulk

    Confirmed upcoming films: None

    Her father Thunderbolt Ross returned for Civil War, but the fact that Marvel has now paired Bruce up with Natasha has us fairly confident that we won't see Betty Ross return. The length of her contract was never announced publically, but you can bet that Marvel had anticipated at least one The Incredible Hulk sequel for her. 

    Marvel could make a pretty decent movie with all the actors they have on multi-film deals that will never be used, couldn't they? Let us know if we've missed anyone important off this list. We'll do our best to keep it updated.


    0 0

    As Marvel gets closer to Avengers: Infinity War, here are some different takes on Thanos' epic story, from video games to alternate history.

    Feature Gavin Jasper
    Apr 26, 2018

    It's here! The culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has arrived with Avengers: Infinity War, where they’re going to tangle with Thanos the Mad Titan. Since showing up at the end of the first Avengersmovie, it’s been pretty apparent that Thanos would be scouring the cosmos for the Infinity Gems/Stones so as to do an adaptation of the hit early 90s miniseries Infinity Gauntlet.

    The comic has become rather iconic in Marvel history and it makes sense that they’d spend the better part of a decade building towards it. Although, don't expect it to resemble the original comic too closely. Not only are there plenty of liberties to be had, but it also seems to take a lot from the more recent comic event Infinity. Not that that's a bad thing. Infinity Gauntlet is a storyline that’s been retold, adapted, and twisted in all sorts of ways since first appearing 27 years ago.

    Here are all the different variations of Thanos and Adam's Excellent Adventure.

    INFINITY GAUNTLET (1991)

    We’re going full spoiler on this.

    As a follow-up to the two-part story Thanos Quest, the Mad Titan Thanos has control of all six Infinity Gems and is essentially God. Mephisto hangs around to feed his ego, while naturally plotting to overthrow him. Thanos also has his granddaughter Nebula hanging around, stuck in a catatonic zombie state because Thanos is a jerk. Since Thanos wants to win the love of Death herself, he uses the Gauntlet to wipe out half of the universe. 50% of all living things simply vanish, including a big chunk of the superheroes. Adam Warlock is reborn and goes to the remaining heroes, coming up with this awesome plan of going to Thanos’ space home and punching him in his stupid scrotum face. This is really a swerve because he plans to have them all killed off as a distraction so Silver Surfer can sneak by and steal the Gauntlet off Thanos’ hand.

    Meanwhile, Thanos’ whims have caused Earth to drift away from the sun, making it colder and colder by the hour. Odin and all the other heavyweight god types on Earth are blocked off from interfering. As a way of making Death jealous, Thanos uses the Gauntlet to create a mate in Terraxia.

    Mephisto suggests that Thanos hold back against the heroes to impress Death, so he scales it back a lot, which gives the heroes a 1% chance. As hard as they try, they still lose horribly and are killed one-by-one by Thanos and Terraxia. After Captain America goes full-on badass and stares down Thanos despite everything, Silver Surfer flies in and misses his mark completely. About then, all the galactic heavy hitters – the tapestry of the universe itself – show up. Thanos goes back to full power and makes mincemeat of them all. He transforms himself into a form that’s one with the universe, which leaves his physical Gauntlet out in the open. Nebula takes it and steals the power, reverting everything to how it once was...except for the part where she still has all the power.

    Thanos teams up with Warlock and a couple of the more powerful heroes, ultimately defeating Nebula when Warlock takes control of the Soul Gem and shorts it out a bit, causing Nebula to drop the Gauntlet. A fight breaks out and Warlock comes out wielding the Infinity Gauntlet, swearing to use it wisely. Thanos fakes his own death, but is later seen living a quiet life as a farmer.

    So that’s Infinity Gauntlet Prime. Let’s see how other writers and mediums have messed around with the formula.

    Read Infinity Gauntlet on Amazon

    WHAT IF THANOS CHANGED GALACTUS INTO A HUMAN BEING? (1992)

    What If #34 was a humor-based issue of the series and while most of it is painfully unfunny, the opening seven-page short story is humorous and even a little bit uplifting in its own weird way. No joke, this is actually my all-time favorite comic book story.

    As Thanos fights the cosmic entities, he decides to get creative when dispatching Galactus. He transforms him into a human being and sends him down to Earth. Galactus awakens naked in a trailer park, forgetting who he is while being a 100% facsimile of Elvis Presley! A single mother named Gertrude takes him in and thinks he’s the real deal with amnesia. She explains everything about Elvis to him and while he still has no memory, he trusts her and decides that he is indeed the King. He swears to do good with this second chance by not getting involved with the pitfalls of fame, such as drugs.

    Also, the comic features the million dollar line, “Ma’am, the hunger gnaws.”

    Galactus gets back into music, trying to stay on the down low, but soon people take notice and we’re about to get the second coming of Elvismania. Right as he’s about to see to the public, Galactus is confronted by Adam Warlock, now in possession of the Infinity Gauntlet. He wills Galactus his memory, but the Eater of Worlds doesn’t want to return. He’s found a better identity as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and chooses to stay with Gertrude and her son, giving both Galactus and Elvis Presley’s legacy a second chance.

    WHAT THE--?! #24 (1992)

    Marvel’s lesser-known humor book from the early 90s once featured a Mad Magazine-style spoof of Infinity Gauntlet called “The Infinity Mitten.” Thermos and his advisor McFisto go on a double-date with Death and Taxes, but Thermos is disappointed that Death has no interest in him. Using the Mitten, he removes half of life in the universe...except on the first try he accidentally just removes everyone’s lower half. Earth’s heroes go after him, but brute force isn’t enough. After talking over various ideas to remove the Infinity Mitten, they go with challenging Thermos to strip poker. They all lose and die of embarrassment.

    The cosmic beings show up to throwdown, but Thermos points out that he’s an atheist and they all vanish. Silver Surfer (or whatever his parody name is) starts whining about all the death he’s seen, causing Adam Warlox to finally snap at him for being such a downer. Warlox shoots him with a revolver, which Thermos steals and uses on Warlox and McFisto.

    Thinking that killing off an entire universe of heroes and villains is enough, Thermos is shocked to see that Death is now dating Nintendo's Mario. Death explains that her new boyfriend is killing off the entire comics industry by himself!

    WHAT IF THE SILVER SURFER POSSESSED THE INFINITY GAUNTLET? (1993)

    I absolutely love this issue and would have liked a variation of this as the actual ending of Infinity Gauntletinstead of what we got. Surfer succeeds in snatching the Gauntlet from Thanos’ hands. First thing he does is set everything back to normal. Then he sends everyone back home except Warlock and Thanos, who he keeps as advisors...but really as witnesses as he makes the universe a better place. He starts off with the well-meaning moves you’d expect. He eliminates disease, hunger, soothes hatred (a Kree and a Skrull are shown greeting each other happily), and even makes Death into a more alluring figure instead of something to be feared. Then he goes to Hell to see if Mephisto would be cool being remade into something a bit more pleasant, but Mephisto instead starts a fight. Surfer vaporizes him and goes back to his home to think about stuff.

    Warlock and Thanos go to Dr. Strange because, boy howdy, Surfer’s going nuts with all that power. Strange figures the best way about this is to summon Surfer’s old flame Shalla-Bal to talk some sense into him, especially since Surfer’s thinking of removing randomness completely and giving the universe complete order. Arguments and fighting happen, but seeing Shalla-Bal so hurt brings Surfer back to sanity. He uses the Infinity Gauntlet’s power to destroy itself – and seemingly he and Shalla-Bal with it – but we discover that the two of them are secretly alone on a paradise planet of their creation to live the rest of their lives in secret.

    As everything returns to normal, Thanos stands alone, holding up the scrapped remains of the Gauntlet. With a smirk, he says, “So close. Oh, yes... So very close.”

    MARVEL SUPER HEROES (1995)

    In a follow-up to X-Men: Children of the Atom, Capcom released a one-on-one fighting game called Marvel Super Heroes, which is loosely based on Infinity Gauntlet. In it, you control a hero or villain as you gather the Infinity Gems from your opponents, working your way to fighting Dr. Doom and then Thanos. Upon meeting him, Thanos will steal your Gems and complete the Infinity Gauntlet before the final battle. While there isn’t much story in the game, it definitely stays loyal to the comic in ways. For instance, Thanos’ battleground is his base from Infinity Gauntlet, where you can see the likes of Thor, Nova, Drax, Scarlet Witch, and She-Hulk frozen in stone as Mephisto and Death idle in the background.

    The game is kicking rad if you haven’t played it, letting you unleash the power of the various Gems in battle, each giving you a different ability. The console version includes playable versions of the bosses, as well as Anita, the emotionless little girl from Capcom’s Darkstalkersseries.

    Here are the various endings based on the different characters defeating Thanos:

    Anita: Simply uses the Gems to free the heroes from their statue forms. Nothing else.

    Blackheart: Is asked to hand it over from his father Mephisto, but Blackheart turns on him and chooses to rule reality.

    Captain America: Reverts the heroes to normal. Then pals around with Thor and throws the Infinity Gems into a black hole so nobody can use them.

    Dr. Doom: Bitches out Thanos and rules the Earth with the Infinity Gauntlet. Yeah, they don’t get very fancy with this one.

    Hulk: Reverts the heroes to normal. Thanos wants to die, but Hulk leaves him begging. Hulk goes on a second honeymoon to Vegas with Betty, but he chooses to get there by leaping with Betty holding on for dear life.

    Iron Man: Reverts the heroes to normal. Considers using the Gauntlet, but then refuses. Later, he’s bummed to discover that his nervous system problems are gone. He selfishly used the power after all. Cap tells him not to worry about it.

    Juggernaut: Is ready to grab the Infinity Gauntlet and get his vengeance on Xavier. Suddenly, Adam Warlock pops in to take it away, thanking Juggernaut for saving reality and then sending him back to Earth. I hate Adam Warlock.

    Magneto: Creates a second moon around Earth and makes it a permanent home for mutants, finally separating himself from the humans. He is the eternal ruler of New Avalon.

    Psylocke: Reverts the heroes to normal. She returns to the mansion, thinking about how she has experienced being molded to the will of others before and would never, ever do that to another person.

    Shuma-Gorath: Absorbs the power of the Infinity Gems and grows in size, allowing it to feast upon reality itself.

    Spider-Man: Reverts the heroes to normal. Goes home to Mary Jane to find out that he’s going to be a father. This is a lot less uplifting when you remember that this game was released during Clone Saga. Ugh.

    Thanos: Has two separate endings. Either he chooses to become one with the cosmos as the true ruler of the universe, or he gives up the power and lives on as a farmer.

    Wolverine: Reverts the heroes to normal. He realizes that he could use the power to find out about his past, but refuses. Instead, he leaves the X-Men to find the answers himself.

    Thanos would return in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, still with the Infinity Gauntlet, but the game lacks anything resembling a coherent storyline. Then in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, the Gauntlet is treated as a red herring as Thanos is more interested in fashioning Ryu's dark energies into a Satsui No Hado Gauntlet so he can kill (or at least hurt) Death.

    MARVEL SUPER HEROES: WAR OF THE GEMS (1996)

    You would think that this would just be a lesser incarnation of the one-on-one fighter I just talked about, but no. This Capcom release is more of a sequel to the side-scroller beat ‘em up X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse. In it, you play through with your choice of Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Iron Man. Coincidentally, Iron Man’s select portrait is just a picture of his sprite from the arcade game. Go figure.

    The game is one big mishmash of both Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War, which makes sense, considering Infinity Gauntlet wasn’t really filled to the brim with villains to fight. Here, you get to fight evil doppelganger clones of various heroes, like Hawkeye, Vision, Sasquatch, Iron Man, etc. At first you search for the various Infinity Gems, trying to stop the likes of Magus and Dr. Doom from getting their hands on them, but Thanos gets the last one. After going through Nebula, you face Thanos and...well, it doesn’t really have the same dire sense of danger when he isn’t at full godhood. At least in the arcade game, he’s got all six Gems. Here, he has one against your five. That’s hardly impressive.

    I guess Thanos has the Reality Gem because literally all he does is cause fire to burst from the ground and summon a closing stone wall. That’s it. He’s slow as molasses and his death throes feel like they take an hour.

    Afterwards, Adam Warlock takes all the Gems for himself and sends everyone home. Feeling the need to give this epilogue some filler, they ask if Earth will ever truly be safe. When all your enemies move like snails, Earth isn't in that much danger, I suppose.

    WHAT IF THE IMPOSSIBLE MAN OBTAINED THE INFINITY GAUNTLET? (1998)

    So you know that part where Silver Surfer tries to swipe Thanos’ Gauntlet? It almost works in the sense that he removes the glove, but he fumbles and drops it. It’s then grabbed by none other than the annoying shape-shifter of the cosmos, the Impossible Man! Although Thanos is no threat to him, he does basically pee himself once all the cosmic beings show up. He escapes with Surfer and points out that he’s totally capable of handling the burden of wielding the Infinity Gauntlet. To prove his point, he brings Surfer to Zenn-La, his lost home planet. He’s reunited with Shalla-Bal and all should be good, but Surfer can’t help but feel that things aren’t quite right.

    He’s summoned by Galactus because although Impossible Man’s claimed to be about using the Gauntlet justly, he’s in the middle of exacting revenge on Galactus for eating his home world of Poppup way back when. Surfer fights him and loses, but convinces him to do the right thing by pointing out that he can just rebuild Poppup and return all its people. Galactus agrees to help, but due to plot device BS, Poppup can only be created at the expense of the fake Zenn-La. Surfer ultimately goes along with it because while he can never accept his fake world as real, Impossible Man is too oblivious and simple-minded to really question his.

    Poppup is reborn, the Poppupian race is reborn, and Impossible Man gives up his power to the Elders of the Universe. Everything seems fine, but then Surfer realizes that the Poppupians are all purple and green versions of heroes and villains, fighting it out like a bunch of goofs. He looks on in horror while a purple and green Forbush Man waves at the reader from behind his back.

    WHAT IF: NEWER FANTASTIC FOUR (2009)

    A little backstory on this one. Jeff Parker and Mike Wieringo were working on a What If issue about the New Fantastic Four (Spider-Man, Hulk, Wolverine, and Ghost Rider) remaining as a team. Unfortunately, Wieringo passed away during the making of it, so they had various artists finish the book in his place as a tribute. Even if it wasn’t such a heartwarming sentiment, What If This was the Fantastic Four? is an excellent comic to read.

    This is the sequel, which asks what would happen if Infinity Gauntlet happened in a timeline with the New Fantastic Four, except that Ghost Rider is wiped out of existence from Thanos’ power and is replaced by Iron Man. Their first meeting with Thanos doesn’t go so well, since Hulk’s attempt to intimidate him with how strong he is in relation to his anger causes Thanos to wipe out a chunk of the Milky Way and state, “And I’m not even angry.” The omnipotent Thanos also separates Hulk and Banner out of curiosity and his desire to show off. During all of this, Wolverine notices how Mephisto is able to steer Thanos around with his words.

    Like in regular continuity, Adam Warlock brings up his awesome plan of, “Do what I say and don’t ask questions so you don't know that I’m using your horrible deaths as a diversion,” but this time it doesn’t fly. As Stark puts it, “I don’t [know what I’m doing], but I don’t think he does either.” When they go at Thanos, Wolverine is the only one with a plan. He chooses not to fight Thanos and instead badmouths his partners while talking Thanos into thinking that Mephisto is trying to horn in on Death. Thanos buys this lie and vaporizes Mephisto. Wolverine worms his way into position as Thanos’ new right-hand man and explains to the other Fantastic Four members that he hopes that Thanos will reward his loyalty by forcing Jean Grey to love him.

    Thanos continues to effortlessly defeat all challengers, even when Iron Man creates a suit of armor out of a fallen Celestial. Wolverine talks up how Thanos hasn’t even physically touched Death and that love is all about contact. Thanos gets all flustered because it isn’t proper, but Wolverine eggs him on to just touch her face. As the nervous Thanos reaches out to do so, Wolverine chops his arm off with a smiling, “Sucker!” and has successfully cut off his source of power.

    Hulk punches Thanos out, Spider-Man uses the Gauntlet to put everything back the way it was, the Gauntlet is given to the Watchers to guard, and Bruce Banner becomes an honorary Watcher. Free from being one with the Hulk, he lives in the Watchers' citadel for the rest of his life, practically bathing in the vast knowledge available to him.

    Too bad they didn’t keep going with What If: New Fantastic Four stories. They were only two issues, but they were a lot of fun.

    WHAT IF: SECRET WARS (2009)

    This one only sort of counts. Thanos only gets one mention, but the story is more of an alternate history companion piece that makes a couple parallel references to the original story. In Secret Wars, Dr. Doom was able to siphon off the powers of Galactus and the Beyonder, making him nigh-omnipotent. In this reality, he keeps the power and fully defeats the heroes. He easily conquers Earth, all while leaving all the heroes alive and using his power to make sure Sue Storm’s pregnancy (which resulted in a miscarriage in regular continuity) is a healthy one. He leaves the world a utopia and flies into space. The thing to take away from this story is that at his heart, Dr. Doom is not a ruler, but a conqueror. That’s why he’s ruled the world no less than three times in regular continuity and always left it behind for the sake of struggle.

    His attempt to take over various alien empires is met with resistance, so he wipes out all who oppose him. Then he seeks out even more power by slaying the Elders of the Universe and stealing the Infinity Gems. With the Soul Gem, he enters Hell, frees his mother, and kills Mephisto (which he says would only be temporary, since he’s the Devil and all). Next on the agenda is taking out the only beings higher than him on the food chain: the Celestials. The fight lasts 407 years (!) and in the end, Doom is supreme, albeit with the Infinity Gems destroyed.

    During the battle, a shockwave knocked Earth out of orbit, much like in Infinity Gauntlet. Doom sees that life will eventually come to an end. Without a second thought, he uses the remainder of his cosmic power to set the Earth back in place and save the planet. The final scene shows, fittingly enough, that he’s become a farmer, freely appearing with no faceplate. He no longer feels ashamed of his scars and plans to rebuild his rule from the ground up, fully understanding the true potential of mankind.

    Personally one of my favorite Dr. Doom stories.

    SUPER HERO SQUAD SHOW SEASON 2 (2010)

    The wacky cartoon series based on the toys with the creepy smiles is a fun enough diversion. The second season of the show is all about the Infinity Gauntlet with the first half of it being based on Thanos’ quest to get all the Gems. Thanos is voiced by Jim Cummings, meaning he sounds like pretty much every Jim Cummings voice you’ve ever heard. Interesting thing here is that Thanos has Nebula captive and he refers to her as his sister. So if you’re keeping score, she’s his granddaughter in the comics, daughter in the movies, and sister in the cartoon.

    The whole Death concept is forgotten about here and Thanos is purely out for galactic power for the sake of being an evil overlord with galactic power. In the episode “Fate of Destiny,” he gets the full set of Gems and the Super Hero Squad goes on the attack. They are soundly defeated (mostly thanks to Thanos’ reality-warping catchphrase, “DO OVER!”), as are Dr. Doom and his underlings. Thanos is then challenged by the Silver Surfer, who is wielding the Infinity Sword, the ultimate weapon of the first season’s finale. Thanos challenges him to a winner-take-all fight, which Surfer accepts. When they shake on it, Surfer pulls off Thanos’ glove.

    Unfortunately, the Infinity Sword has been slowly corrupting Surfer over time, so having the Infinity Sword AND the Infinity Gauntlet drives him over the edge. He sends his former teammates spiraling through the multiverse, giving us children’s cartoon adaptations of 1602and Planet Hulk. Also, he knocks Earth out of orbit, making it increasingly cold. For the remainder of the series, he’s the main villain.

    In the finale, “The Final Battle! (‘Nuff Said!)” The Dark Surfer is challenged by the team of Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Hulk, Wolverine, Falcon, and Thor. Surfer chooses to split himself into six beings for his own amusement. Each Surfer is powered by a separate Gem, but the heroes have figured that each one is capable of countering a specific Surfer based on their own abilities/personalities. For instance, the Mind Gem has little effect on Hulk and Wolverine’s surliness is able to overpower the Soul Gem. With the help of Ronan the Accuser, they defeat Silver Surfer and get all the Gems together.

    It’s not over until they find where he hid the Infinity Sword, leading to a final battle between Iron Man and Dr. Doom, where they accidentally destroy both the Sword and the Gems. The resulting explosion fixes the universe, including Earth, and all is well. Surfer’s back to his senses and willingly accepts his Kree imprisonment. No longer able to get his revenge on the Surfer, Thanos decides to go hang out at a chicken farm instead. Cute.

    SUPER HERO SQUAD: INFINITY GAUNTLET (2010)

    Around the time of the second season’s debut, they released a video game tie-in where you go around fighting enemies with two heroes at a time. In the story, Iron Man and Hulk are picking up some new boots for Thor’s birthday. The boots get mixed up with Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet and wackiness ensues. Eventually, Thanos gets all the Gems. The duo of Iron Man and Scarlet Witch are able to defeat him, but then Silver Surfer swoops in to steal the Infinity Gauntlet. Corrupted by its power immediately, he does away with Galactus and, like in the cartoon, splits into six versions of himself. While Spider-Man sits this one out, the other twelve heroes pair up and fight the various Surfers one-by-one.

    Once defeated, Surfer comes to his senses. He and Iron Man throw the Infinity Gems and Infinity Sword into a rift in reality, taking care of that problem. Meanwhile, all the villains are busy fighting each other. Iron Man figures to just let that sort itself out. The heroes celebrate Thor’s birthday, but it turns out his boots have been enchanted by Loki to make Thor dance for an eternity. Iron Man and Hulk search for the receipt so they can return it.

    AVENGERS AND THE INFINITY GAUNTLET (2010)

    This out-of-continuity story is a reimagining of Infinity Gauntlet as an all-ages comedy book. With the ultimate power of the Gauntlet, Thanos wipes out half of life in the universe for the sake of seeing chaos reign and the survivors destroy each other. The remaining heroes only know the where of the threat’s source and not the who or what. Sue Storm puts together a team of Ms. Marvel, Hulk, Wolverine, and Spider-Man. Dr. Doom bursts into the room and after a fight where he takes down everyone on his own, Doom offers to join the team. Their transport is US-Ace, the star of the forgotten 80s comic US-1.

    The real treasure of this miniseries is watching Dr. Doom interact with the uncouth US-Ace. Especially when they visit the space trucker’s parents, who run a space diner. Ace’s mother bullies Doom into making everyone sandwiches, which is amazing.

    Once they come across Thanos near the end of the third issue, they all get thrashed. He’s only stopped thanks to US-Ace driving his space truck into him thanks to his truckopathic link (Doom grumbles, “Oh Lord, he has a name for it...”). The act knocks off the Gauntlet and while Doom eventually gets his hands on it, it doesn’t work. Turns out he’s a perfect Doombot created by Doom to be released into the world if he were to ever go missing for whatever reason, such as, say, half of the universe's population magically vanishing into thin air. Spider-Man stops Thanos from getting the Gauntlet back on his hand and then uses its power to wish for a universe where Thanos never had the Gems in the first place.

    Spider-Man ends up back on Earth where he’s the only one who remembers the entire adventure. He isn’t too broken up about it, but he wishes someone else out there would remember what he did. Elsewhere, Thanos plots his eventual revenge by sketching Spider-Man’s head into the ground, then adding an X over it.

    I’m just bummed that despite having a million characters in Avengers: Infinity War, we won’t get to hear Dr. Doom sarcastically respond to US-Ace with, “What a colorful turn of phrase. Perhaps you will regale us with more of them over a ‘mess of biscuits’ later.”

    Read Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet on Amazon

    AVENGERS ASSEMBLE: SEASON TWO (2015)

    Ugh. So, once upon a time, there was this badass Avengers cartoon that people really liked. Then they canceled it and replaced it with Avengers Assemble, which I guess is still a thing. Anyway, much like Super Hero Squad Show, the second season is about Thanos and his quest to acquire the Infinity Gauntlet. By the halfway point, he has it and he loses in an incredibly embarrassing way.

    Iron Man has Arsenal, a robot built by his father that can absorb energies and is programmed to protect Tony at all costs. After Thanos imprisons the Avengers with magic rock hands from the ground, Arsenal just walks towards him. Thanos -- with control over time and space and so on -- shoots lasers at him. Iron Man explains that Arsenal is able to absorb such a thing. Knowing this, Thanos' strategy is to SHOOT LASERS HARDER because holy shit. Arsenal yoinks the Gauntlet off Thanos' hand, freeing up the Avengers to beat Thanos into mush.

    Then Arsenal becomes Ultron because reasons.

    Oh yeah, there was a digital pinball game based on Infinity Gauntlet too, but I have no idea how to even write that up. I watched footage of people playing it and couldn’t make heads or tails of what the hell is even going on.

    Gavin Jasper will never not love that Impossible Man/Roddy Piper panel. Follow him on Twitter!


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