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.
Yesterday, DC Comics revealed the name for their upcoming streaming service, due out later this year. Called DC Universe, after their eponymous comics franchise, they've already revealed four new shows: Young Justice: Outsiders, season 3 of the hit animated series, Titans, a live action adaptation of the Teen Titans comics, an animated Harley Quinn show., and Metropolis, a live action prequel to the Superman mythos, depicting the early days of Lois Lane and Lex Luthor. In addition, a new show was announced yesterday. Swamp Thing, named after the comic title of the same name, will tell the story of scientist Alec Holden becoming the protector of Slaughter Swamp, defending it against evil doers. In all honesty, I'm not super excited for it, but I'm not hating either. While all of the shows sound great, from what little we've seen of Titans, and what we haven't seen of the rest, has me worried. Titans in particular has me terrified, as while the suits for Robin, Hawk, and Dove look amazing, Beast Boy and mainly Starfire look below cosplay level, with Raven in an odd in-between area. I'm excited for YJ season 3, but the lack of information, while beneficial in the long run, definitely hurts me now. As for the rest of the shows, I'm pretty indifferent to the Harley Quinn show, and I'm excited about Metropolis and Swamp Thing, but the former is going through redevelopment, which is concerning considering the show has already been announced for 13 episodes. However, I think DC can pull through, and they have me wondering what Disney-Marvel's streaming service will be like.
This summer's Avengers: Infinity War is looking to be one of the biggest blockbusters in cinematic history, with the film being rumored to break the $247.9 million opening weekend set by The Force Awakens. Clearly, audiences worldwide are eagerly awaiting the film's release; however, it seems not everyone wants to allow the film to be seen. Recently, news broke over the censoring of Infinity War in Indonesia, with the Jakarta Post confirming that the Film Censorship Board "cut seven minutes" of the official 156 minute run time; the reasoning for the edits was to ensure the film adhered to the nation's PG-13 standards. This is somewhat odd, as the film has already been confirmed for a PG-13 rating, though the MPAA being an American only group may likely explain why. Beyond shocking some fans, director Joe Russo was similarly surprised, having found out during a Singapore press tour. According to ScreenRant, Russo was quoted as saying, "“I can’t image what seven minutes they would want to cut out of the movie; as an artist you don’t want anybody censoring anything or taking anything out of the film. This is a PG-13 movie, it’s not like it’s some radical piece of content so I’m a little shocked.” So what could the FCS taken out of the film? Well assuming its not a continuous stretch of time, but rather different scenes throughout the film, possible scenes could include...
The announcement of the Kree-Skrull war for the Captain Marvel movie led to an explosion of theories on who could be an alien shape-shifter among Earth's heroes. Everyone from Iron Man to Agent 13 have been theorized as a potential Skrull, but quite frankly, I less concerned with the theories then the film itself. And in all honesty, I'm not really interested in seeing Secret Invasion being adapted for the silver screen. While I enjoyed the story, not enough has been done, in my opinion, to set up the invasion plot, and unless Marvel wants to do some serious retconning, Captain Marvel's movie will end up having to set all this up, and as Iron Man 2 proved, setting up too many future plot threads in one film can prove detrimental. I'm also not sure Disney would be willing to do this story. While not massively darker than most Marvel stories, Secret Invasion featured fairly violent action and character deaths, the latter of which has been sorely lacking in the MCU. And while this would be a benefit, the potential for studio interference seems too high to warrant it. And on the topic of action, I worry the final sequence of the Avengers vs. the Skrull army will be a repeat of the first two Avengers' ending fights, with the titular superteam facing an army of generic CG monsters. They can shape-shift, Marvel should use that to their benefit. I don't mean to sound negative, but I really don't think Secret Invasion would be the best fit for Phase 4.