Things aren't going so well for the Marvel Netflix shows; despite a relatively solid second season, the much-maligned Iron Fist was canceled last month. Despite the news, fans of Marvel Netflix eagerly awaited the then-upcoming third season of Daredevil. And while it premiered to very strong reviews, the true headline of the day was the announcement of Luke Cage being canceled, not just on the day of the much awaited season, but only a week after Iron Fist; even more shocking to some was that Disney did not mention any plans to revive the season on the upcoming Disney+ streaming platform. And now, it seems like the originator of the mini-universe is the latest to fall victim to this purge. It was announced by Deadline Hollywood this morning that Daredevil is officially canceled.
This has led many to question the future of the Marvel Netflix Universe. Of the six shows, Defenders, Jessica Jones, and The Punisher are the only ones still ongoing; of those three, the latter two are definitively going to has at least one more season. The Punisher's second season wrapped filming in August, so it should be in post now, and Jessica Jones' began shooting in late-June. But after that, it's all up in the air. The latter's second season earned a fair share of criticism for it's pacing issues, and apparently didn't have very high viewership, so the notion of a cancelation isn't a huge stretch; and regarding Punisher, while nothing about viewership exists, the season earned pretty good scores, and the character was definitely the breakout start of Daredevil season 2, so his fate is undecided. My personal opinion is sadness-while I never cared much for Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, or Luke Cage, I've always been a fan of Daredevil, considering it among the best superhero TV shows, live action or otherwise. Defenders was pretty boring in my eyes, but I found The Punisher a very enjoyable viewing experience. However, I can kinda see why they've begun canceling them: it's been said before, but these shows really drag in the middle of their seasons, most notably Jessica Jones season 2 and both of Luke Cage's seasons. Viewership is also dropping in substantial numbers as well, so something needs to be done. And moving the more lauded shows to Disney+ while axing the rest does make some sense. Don't be shocked if JJ gets the axe in the future.
Despite the mixed to poor critical reception of the three films, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Justice League director Zach Snyder seems to be enjoying himself. Since leaving, Snyder has taken to posting to the social media platform Vero, revealing details and information cut from Batman v. Superman and Justice League, as well as answering fan questions; he even poked fun at Warner Brothers over the Thanksgiving break, using a likening his yet uncooked turkey to the film, saying both needed "an hour more, at least"- a reference to a studio mandate keeping the Justice League's runtime at two hours or less. And just recently, Snyder dropped a major bomb on fans on his Vero.
The picture shared depicted what appeared to be either concept art or in-film art of Darkseid, classic DC super-villain; Darkseid, born Uxas, was intended to serve as the primary villain of the DCEU, and was even planned to appear within the film in a decently sized role. This change was just one of many portions of the film, be it on a story, editing, music, or visual level, changed during the reshoots. And with the changes disappointing many DCEU fans, supporters of Snyder have begun mobilizing in support of Snyder's version of the film, dubbed the Snyder cut; in fact, fans were so dedicated that they, after raising enough money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, paid for a plane to fly a "Release the Snyder Cut" banner of WB studios. All this combined has lead many to believe that the cut may in fact get released. Personally speaking, I'm not at all a fan of Justice League, and very much sympathize with him and his plight; unsurprisingly, I'm not at all turned off by the idea of seeing a Snyder cut released. However, I'm not entirely sure WB will do so. For one, the DCEU has a lot of positive buzz around it now, what with the early reviews for Aquaman indicating a solid film, high amount of excitement for Shazam and its trailer, and more. So from a business perspective, the studio may not want to remind casual moviegoers of Snyder's original vision. To that, I'd argue the hardcore fans are really the ones keeping the series alive, as the mainstream seems like they could care less, so focusing marketing towards them wouldn't at all hurt.
The Margot Robbie-led and produced Birds of Prey film is moving along extremely quickly; it was only about two weeks ago that Black Canary and Huntress were cast as Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, respectively. And only on Halloween was the movie announced to be R-rated. And now, a major casting decision has been revealed. Ewan McGregor will be playing Roman Sionis, aka Black Mask, in the Cathy Yan-directed film. While not on the level of Joker or Mr. Freeze in terms of popularity, Black Mask has seen an increase in interest after 2013's Batman: Arkham Origins, where he played a major role in the game as the quartagonist of the game. Known best for his use of torture, the character should be a good fit for the rating announced. Regarding McGregor himself, it's an odd choice: best known for playing Obi-Wan in the Star Wars series, fans have been expecting him to star in the role in his own film; seeing, however, as all Star Wars spinoffs are on hold, is it possible he took this role as a way to fill his time until, or if, the film is green-lighted? One should also note that Winstead is McGregor's girlfriend in real life.
The July firing of director James has lead to various different sources of stress for Disney; upon his firing, fan outcry was extremely powerful, with many calling the decision rash and not properly thought out This lead to an open letter from the cast of the first two films, wherein they stood in solidarity with Gunn and called for his rehiring; and while all this lead Disney to consider rehiring, they ultimately stuck to their guns and permanently severed ties. This prompted even greater fan unrest, to the point that Drax actor Dave Bautista called into question his future within the series; and after it was announced that Gunn had been hired to write, and possibly direct, Suicide Squad 2 for Warner Brothers, not only was this deemed a fabulous decision on their part, but as potentially the first step in the downfall of the MCU, and a critical failure for Disney. And now, yet another issue arises that they must face: a billboard has popped up recently advocating for Gunn's rehiring, while featuring a link to a petition to get that to happen. This itself is worrying, as the $4,000 spent on the billboard, as well as the 424,727 people who've signed the petition, shows how dedicated these fans are to this cause. However, the location of the billboard is Disney's real issue: its located a few miles away from Disneyland, forcing drivers to reflect on this issue on their way to a location associated with those behind Gunn's firing. Personally speaking, I do support the efforts of those behind this billboard: it seems to come from a place of genuine care and sympathy for Gunn's situation. However, I can accept and understand that Gunn is more than likely never to return to Disney.
Jon Favreau, director of the first two Iron Man films and 2016's The Jungle Book, was announced in March of 2018 to executive produce the then untitled live action Star Wars show headed to the upcoming Disney streaming service. Just today, details of the show directly from Favreau have been revealed to The Hollywood Reporter, which I will list and then give my feelings towards.
The show will be titled Star Wars: The Mandalorian, named after the eponymous denizens of the planet Mandalore. For those new to the series, the planet Mandalore is home to a group of tribal-like warriors who, in ancient times, fought the Jedi Order; the bounty hunter Jango Fett and his clone son Boba, are both known for their distinct Mandalorian armors. In later years within the saga, the planet was occupied by the Empire sometime time after the end of the Clone Wars. A synopsis for the show was also given, which reads: "After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic". What's most important to note is the time period the show is set in, after the Empire's fall and before the First Order's rise. This is notable because the upcoming animated show, Star Wars: Resistance, takes place in a relatively similar time period; the idea of some crossover between the shows isn't an impossible one, as Clone Wars protagonist Ashoka Tano appeared in Star Wars: Rebels.
As for my thoughts, as a casual Star Wars fan at most, I don't have much to say. One thing I appreciate is the focus on the bounty hunters of the series. As someone who relates more to the Poe's and Han's rather than the Luke's and Rey's of the series, I enjoy the more grounded nature the series will take; I also feel like this aspect of the series, much like the criminal underground prior to Solo, has been severely under utilized. One thing I would like to see more of is the rise of the First Order. Considering how their existence essentially renders the OT moot, it'd be nice to see how they came into power, as secondary material, while nice, isn't enough. But overall, I'm kind of excited for it.
Ever since the announced Fox-Disney deal, Marvel fans have been flooding the internet with questions: "Who will replace Hugh Jackman as Wolverine?", "How will the Fantastic Four and X-Men be implemented in the MCU?"; however, perhaps the biggest question often circles back to the fate of the upcoming Dark Phoenix. Coming out three years after X-Men: Apocalypse, the film is the fourth in the series to feature the main cast members of 2011's X-Men: First Class. Many see the release of the film as pointless, a delay to the much awaited introduction to the mutant band in the larger MCU. And with the behind the scenes issues of the film, from the trailer leaking early to a second delay of the film, that sentiment seems, at least to the general public increasingly true. However, the film does have its defenders, and with the trailer released, how does the film look thus far?
Unfortunately, the film doesn't look very promising. First. the trailer: the biggest problem of the trailer isn't so much that it's bad, but rather, it seems eerily like The Last Stand, from a young Jean Grey having her powers suppressed by Charles, to a raid on the mansion and Erik leading a band of mutants. And considering how X3 approached the Phoenix Saga, that's not a feeling they'd want to give off. Another problem is that the film seems to retain among the larger problems of the current films: an over-emphasis on Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique. Yes, Mystique having a larger role in the films isn't bad, but choosing to further develop her after two whole films instead of further new characters like Scott and Kurt (heroes fairly important to the Dark Phoenix saga) is a bit of an issue. And finally, the film seems really low effort, from debatably the worst costumes in the series (and that's saying something) to Genosha being downgraded from a mutant utopia to little more than a generic forest, also ripped straight from X3.
As for current thoughts, I don't want the film to be cancelled, as it seems like it's a good bit into post-production and while it's been very hit or miss, especially over the last 5 years, I would like the X-Men series to go out on a good note, or at least see it go out. At the same time, I really want to see the X-Men meet the Avengers, and this film does nothing but delay that already lengthy process from happening; not to mention, the trailer wasn't really that great. Many have argued that Disney should release the film as an exclusive to their upcoming streaming service, an idea I think has merit.
It seems the Marvel Cinematic Universe is becoming a TV juggernaut as well as a cinematic one as well. According to a recent Variety report, the upcoming Disney streaming service will release shows featuring characters in the MCU who have yet to headline their own solo films; Loki and Scarlet Witch were the first two characters announced to get their own shoes. Show budget has yet to be revealed, but considering the $100 million budget for Jon Favreau's live action Star Wars show and the theorized $25 million for the Lady and the Tramp film, it's safe to assume that Disney will more than likely spend within, or even above, that range. However, while this announcement will surely satisfy fans of these characters, there are some worries to be considered. For one, most every character in the movies who've crossed into television hasn't been seen since in any notable form, exemplified by Peggy Carter and Agent Coulson. The possibility of the two and other heroes never returning isn't an unprecedented one. Speaking of a lack of note regarding the Marvel TV shows, the relationship between the shows and movies is really one-sided, as while Agents of SHIELD constantly references characters, events, and locations from the films, the movies flagrantly ignore the existence of the shows; the same also applies to the Netflix shows. Finally, asking viewers to consume so much material may be too big of an ask of viewers. What makes the movies so special is that despite being part of a large series, they still exist in a vacuum of sorts, telling a complete story that's easy to understand; however, if Agents of SHIELD is any indication, quality storytelling that's extremely complex doesn't produce strong viewership. But that's just my opinion, put yours down below.
In the last few months, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has been facing its fair share of behind the scenes controversy; first, the summer firing of director James Gunn due to old tweets. Resulting from that was a cast letter to rehire Gunn, as well as fan petitions, all of which caused a debate over whether or not her should be rehired at all. Finally, Disney's film department head Alan Horn, representing CEO Bob Iger and Marvel Studios head Kevin Fiege, made it clear that Gunn would not return, causing fan and cast outcry. Now, speculation seems to indicate that actor Dave Bautista, who plays Guardian Drax the Destroyer, may not return to the role. During an interview last Saturday with The Jonathan Ross Show, Bautista seemed to have implied that he may not return to his role, saying he's "not happy with what they've done with James Gunn". The former pro-wrestler turned actor has been a very vocal critic of the decision to fire Gunn, once even calling the environment after the fact "sickening". To some, his actions can come off as a bit excessive; however, it should be noted that his role in the first "Guardians", and by extension Gunn, helped launch him into the mainstream, perhaps explaining his actions. On the other hand, while many praise him for standing by James Gunn and expressing loyalty, it's not far-fetched, let alone impossible, for him to be replaced, and done so in a manner leaving little to no fanfare. Regardless of what happens, expect this story to remain in the comic book community's purview in the near future.
Earlier this summer, it was rumored that Guardians of the Galaxy 3 would be placed on indefinite hold, due to director James Gunn's firing. Now, it seems those rumors are coming to pass. It was first reported by ComicBook that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3's production has been put on hold, with no set date for the beginning thereof being listed. For those unaware, director James Gunn was fired due to old tweets with racist, sexist, and seemingly pedophilic content. After his late July firing, the primary cast members of the series wrote an open letter to Disney CEO Bob Iger asking for a rehiring, with actor Dave Bautista, who plays Drax, being particularly open about his disapproval of the decision to fire Gunn; around this time, various fan petitions have been started with the same goal in mind. It has been rumored that Disney still intends on using Gunn's completed script for the film, though no replacement has been chosen. Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi seems like the fan-favorite to do so.
Infinity War was released a little less than two weeks ago, to great commercial and critical success; this success has done little more than fan the flames towards the fire of DCEU negativity. And now the behind the scenes crew is taking part in the age-old debate of DC vs. Marvel. According to Heroic Hollywood, directors Joe and Anthony Russo attended a convention wherein a fan asked whether or not they'd ever consider making a movie for DC; Heroic Hollywood's reported Joe as saying DC heroes are "unrelatable and...too powerful to be interesting". His reasoning was that, growing up during the height of Cleveland's poverty, he tended to find the abundance of underdog heroes more interesting. Now, I will admit that I prefer Marvel to DC, that doesn't mean I don't like DC; I love DC and their not-Batman characters and the majority of their non-comic exploits. With that said, I don't really understand their opinion. I respect it, but that tends to be a complaint of those who don't read DC comics, and I think this applies most to Superman: everyone thinks he's boring because he's the strongest hero and he always does the right thing, but that's not true: stories like All-Star and For All Seasons show that Superman is more human than he is Kryptonian. Granted, I don't want to imply that the Russo's have never read a comic, because that's just not true, as proven by their work on Civil War, Infinity War, and Winter Soldier. It just seems that the only comics with DC characters they've read are the poorly written ones, like DK2, where Batman is shown to be a cold, child abusing sociopath. Ironically enough, the Russo's said they'd be most interested in doing a Batman film.