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TV Review: The Mandalorian S2E8 “Chapter 16: The Rescue”

After last week’s trash talk ending, the long-awaited showdown between Mando and Moff Gideon has come in The Mandalorian Season 2 finale “Chapter 16: The Rescue“. Director Peyton Reed and writer Jon Favreau conclude Mando and Grogu’s quest and father/son arc nicely while setting up some tensions for upcoming seasons thanks to the return of the Mandalorians Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) and Koska Reeves (Sasha Banks) and the general slipperiness of Moff Gideon. Honestly, Giancarlo Esposito’s performance is so damn entertaining as he projects menace and power while having multiple guns to his head and being in shackles. You can’t kill off a character like that yet, and The Mandalorian writers know that and show that he is even better as a master manipulator who knows everything about everyone than as a duelist.

“Chapter 16: The Rescue” opens with Slave I chasing an Imperial shuttle in flight. These ships both appeared in Return of the Jedi, and Reed and Favreau make multiple visual, verbal, and plot references to this film. This isn’t a bad thing though and comes across more as a leit-motif than fanservice with “side character” Mando (Even though Mandalorians have their own lore.) suddenly finding himself in the middle of an operatic adventure. The pursuit quickly ends in boarding with Cara Dune shooting an Imperial in the head when he taunts her about the destruction of Alderaan, and they find out the whereabouts of Grogu and Moff Gideon from Dr. Pershing, who has run experiments on the little guy to potentially clone him.

With the shuttle in hand, Boba Fett and Mando go to a bar on an refinery planet to recruit Bo-Katan and Koska to help them out. Like the previous episode in which “restore the glory of Mandalore” folks appeared, things are a bit tense between them with Bo-Katan not liking that a clone wears the armor of her people. However, they agree to join the team with the promise of getting Moff Gideon’s light cruiser after they rescue Grogu. Then, Bo-Katan goes into command mode (and Sackhoff channels a little bit of Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica) and sets up a plan where they will a fly the cruiser in the TIE fighter tube with Slave I giving chase. Then, the rest of the team will create a diversion and take the bridge of the ship while Mando stealthily recaptures Grogu. The one spanner in the works is the Dark Troopers, who kidnapped Grogu two episodes ago and are revealed by Dr. Pershing to be droids. Battle droids have definitely come a long way since the Trade Federation’s “Roger, roger” types in The Phantom Menace.

To start out, the plan goes off without a hitch, and Reed’s experience doing clever action sequences on the two Ant-Man really comes in handy as he homages the small ships take on the cruiser sequence in Return of the Jedi with Slave I taking out TIE fighters with the greatest of ease, and the best getaway driver/pilot Boba Fett taking his bow. Then, Fennec Shand, Cara, Bo-Katan, and Koska demonstrate their competence by running a gauntlet through the ship while Moff Gideon immediately calls on the Dark Troopers. Peyton Reed shoots a variety of action sequences from Ming-Na Wen demonstrating her chops and doing unarmed takedowns plus headshots as Fennec to Bo-Katan and Koska using their jetpacks to flank some hapless stormtroopers. While this is going on, Mando runs into the Dark Troopers’ cryo cells and gets physically knocked around by the one that escape his enclosure. However, his cleverness comes in handy, and he ends up besting the Dark Trooper by mixing a flamethrower with an oxygen tube and then a spear to the head while letting the rest

Mando makes it to the brig, and of course, runs into Moff Gideon holding the Darksaber over Grogu. They chat for a bit, and Gideon explains the Darksaber’s significance. (It’s basically the Excalibur of Mandalore.) Mando doesn’t care about the Darksaber and just wants Grogu so they decide to go their separate ways until, of course, Moff Gideon stabs in the back. What ensues is an epic Darksaber on Beskar spear duel with Pedro Pascal demonstrating the spear fighting moves he picked up while playing Oberyn Martell (RIP) in Game of Thrones. Because he’s a good guy, Mando disarms Gideon, puts him in chains, rescues Grogu, and hauls him up to the bridge where Moff Gideon is super-manipulative about the Darksaber. He basically says that Bo-Katan has to defeat Mando in combat to get the weapon and be a true candidate to the throne of Mandalore. While this is going on, the Dark Troopers come back from space, and Moff Gideon tries to escape and shoots at Bo-Katan, but is physically incapacitated by Cara Dune before he can put a bullet in his brain for the glory of the empire.

The Mandalorian Chapter 16: The Rescue

Even after this failure, Moff Gideon is still gloating about how he and Grogu will be the only ones to survive the Dark Trooper assault when a single X-Wing flies into the ship. Grogu’s little ears perk up, and he turns to the monster and watches a hooded figure with a lightsaber take out the Dark Troopers showing that his meditation on Tython paid off. Peyton Reed does an homage to the Darth Vader hallway scene in Rogue One by shooting a tight, close-up of the Jedi skillfully taking out the Dark Troopers. When the Jedi reaches the bridge, everyone except Mando is wary as he removes his hood and reveals himself to be none other, but Luke Skywalker (A CGI de-aged Mark Hamill). Luke, Grogu, and Mando have a chat with Grogu asking for Mando’s permission to go with him. In a touching moment, Mando removes his helmet and lets Grogu touch his face before he goes off to get training with Luke and R2-D2 in a reversal of his scenes with Yoda in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. This is the end of the episode, but there’s a cool post-credits scene where Boba Fett and Fennec raid Jabba the Hutt’s palace with Fett shooting Bib Fortuna in the head and then sitting on Jabba’s throne setting up a new show in December 2021 called the Book of Boba Fett.

“Chapter 16: The Rescue” is a really exciting ensemble action episode with Jon Favreau giving each member of Mando’s “impressive fire team” a different motivation for being on the mission while still having them be utter badasses except when Cara’s big gun jams. They end up rescuing Grogu and taking over Moff Gideon’s light cruiser, but Favreau makes it clear that they’re not all BFFs as evidenced by their different responses to Luke coming in at the end. (The Jedi are the ancient enemies of the Mandalorians.) Also, Boba Fett gets treated really badly by Bo-Katan and Koska at the bar, who are still doing the sales pitch about re-taking Mandalore, and thankfully, their self-interest and Mando’s intersect for this episode. In the bridge scene, Katee Sackhoff plays off Giancarlo Esposito really well when he talks about her actually having to defeat Mando in combat, and her usually confident, quippy self is quiet for once. There are whole plotlines waiting to happen in that silence.

Even though Luke Freaking Skywalker shows up, and for the first time in live action Star Wars, we get to see him in his prime and not as a learner or old man, it’s Giancarlo Esposito’s performance as Moff Gideon that will stick with me the most. From the get-go, there is a calmness to his line delivery as he overrides his flailing subordinates and sends out TIE fighters to fight Slave I. There’s a glimpse where you can tell that he knows the ship is pulling its punches, and that the Imperial shuttle isn’t a friendly so he immediately gives the order for the Dark Troopers. Even imprisoned, Moff Gideon is a matter of sowing discord between allies as evidenced by his earlier remarks about the Darksaber. Also, Esposito does a good job of making everything seem like it’s all part of the plan with Grogo being of no use to him because Gideon and his scientists already extracted a blood sample. He is best for now, but Jon Favreau and Peyton Reed understand they have an interesting villain on their hands: part fascist fanatic (“glory of the empire”/the almost suicide) and part cool chess player so they keep him alive for now.

I guess that it’s time to talk about the Luke Skywalker reveal. It definitely seems like a Deus Ex Machina because the episode has shown that without his Beskar that Mando would have been killed by one Dark Trooper (Who get a catchy dubstep theme from Ludwig Goransson), and he and his team would have been annihilated by a platoon. However, the scene is payoff for Grogu’s actions on Tython as well as his and Mando’s interactions with Ahsoka Tano with there needing to be some kind of Jedi or Jedi-adjacent character showing up for Grogu to choose to either train with the Force or just hang out with Mando some more. Plus there’s this season’s overarching plot of Mando returning Grogo to his people (While also kind of having a reunion with his too via Boba Fett, Koska, and Bo-Katan.) so there needed to be a reveal like this to have a satisfying end to his journey.

However, I have a slight criticism of Luke’s appearance in “Chapter 16: The Rescue” other than the wonkiness of the de-aging CGI. (It’s less creepy that bringing back the deceased Peter Cushing for Rogue One.) One of the great parts of The Mandalorian, especially in Season One, was that it was finally a Star Wars story not about the Skywalker line with Mando and Grogu going on Lone Wolf and Cub-style adventures around the galaxy and commenting on the post-Second Death Star destruction turmoil. However, Jon Favreau couldn’t help himself and connected Mando to this larger story and legacy, which is honestly par for the course with familiar Clone Wars and Original Trilogy characters like Bo-Katan, Ahsoka Tano, and Boba Fett popping up this season.

The Mandalorian Chapter 16: The Rescue

It definitely makes some of the fans happy, and it’s interesting to see the different flavors of Mandalorian when Mando, Fett, Bo-Katan, and Koska interact, but it also shows that Star Wars still isn’t 100% interested in getting out of this Skywalker shadow as shown by J.J. Abrams undoing all of Rian Johnson’s work to break the cycle of Hero’s Journey and just retell old stories in Rise of Skywalker. Thankfully, Favreau and his writing room are better storytellers than Abrams and set up the Luke reveal via Grogu’s actions and interactions in previous episodes instead of announcing Palpatine’s return via Fortnite. There is also a real sweetness to Grogu and Luke’s interactions with Peyton Reed shooting from Gogu’s POV as he meets and hits it off with R2-D2 as the astromech droid helps calm him and begin to heal his Purge-induced trauma. Of course, they have to be friends.

Speaking of friendship, Jon Favreau and Peyton Reed do make the cathartic move of having the last moments of the season finale be interactions between Mando and Grogu. There’s a minimal dialogue (“I’ll see you again” is nice.), and Reed squarely places the camera on Pedro Pascal’s helmetless face as he lets Grogu be one of the first people in years to touch his face because they’re really just a couple of foundlings out in a great, big galaxy. There’s a real sadness/your kid going off to college or some educational institution vibe to this scene, and it also shows that Mando has grown with a character as he has forsaken the apparently fanatical (According to Bo-Katan earlier this season.) ways of his Mandalorian offshoot to have a real connection with Grogu. He takes the helmet of his own free will instead of doing it for pragmatic reasons like in the previous episode, and it demonstrates real growth. I’m definitely going to miss Mando and Grogu’s interactions and hope they truly do get to meet again down the road.

“Chapter 16: The Rescue” has multiple fun setpieces from Mandalorian jetpack on stormtrooper action to Mando dueling both Moff Gideon and a Dark Trooper and finally, Luke Skywalker mowing down battle droids like his father before him in a similarly shot manner. However, its use of the Skywalker saga as a safety valve aside, it features an eye-catching and unsettling performance by Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon, nails those emotional beats between Mando and Grogu even if they don’t share a lot of screen time, and wraps up his quest storyline in a satisfying way. Finally, it also sets up future tension between Mando and the other Mandalorians, and the episode’s stinger shows a tantalizing glimpse at Boba Fett and Fennec Shand starring in their own show.

Overall Verdict: 8.8

Marvel Studios Releases New Details on Hawkeye, Shang-Chi, Captain Marvel 2, Armor Wars, Ironheart, Secret Invasion… and Fantastic Four!

During the Disney investor presentation, numerous announcements were made as to what to expect from Marvel Studios over the next years. Numerous first looks were released and updates to movies, television shows, and a whole lot of reveals.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has wrapped its production. The film is in theaters July 9, 2021.

Brie Larson will return as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel in Captain Marvel 2. Nia DaCosta will direct the film and Larson will be joined by Iman Vellani, the new Ms. Marvel, and Teyonah Parris who will play Monica Rambeau. Parris will debut as the character in WandaVision.

Captain Marvel 2 will fly into theaters November 11, 2022.

Hawkeye is currently filming. Jeremy Renner returns as the character and will be joined by Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop.

Additional cast include Vera Farmiga, Fra Fee, and newcomer Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez, with episodes directed by Rhys Thomas and directing duo Bert and Bertie.

Tatiana Maslany is now confirmed as Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk… and Tim Roth is joining her!? Roth returns as the Abomination. Mark Ruffalo will also appear on the Disney+ series. It will be directed by Kat Coiro and Anu Valia.

Moon Knight is confirmed though no more details have been released.

Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury in the Disney+ series, Secret Invasion. Ben Mendelsohn will return as well as the Skrull Talos.

Dominique Thorne will step into the armor as Riri Williams in Ironheart! The character is coming to a series soon on Disney+.

Ironheart and‚Ķ Armor Wars!? Don Cheadle suits up again as James Rhodes, aka War Machine. The classic story comes to the small screen of Disney+ as Tony Stark’s fear of his tech falling into the wrong hands comes true.

Hopefully it’ll be as much of a trainwreck as the Star Wars special, but in 2022 we’re getting The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special directed and written by James Gunn. You’ll be able to watch it on Disney+.

I am Groot! Baby Groot will get a series of shorts on Disney+.

Christian Bale has officially joined the cast of Thor: Love and Thunder as the villain Gorr the God Butcher. This will have a major impact on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thor: Love and Thunder comes to theaters on May 6, 2022.

Peyton Reed will return to direct the third Ant-Man film, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, and Michelle Pfeiffer all return. Kathryn Newton joins the cast as Cassie Lang and Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror.

And… the Fantastic Four are coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe directed by Jon Watts!

TV Review: The Mandalorian S2E2 “Chapter 10: The Passenger”

THE MANDALORIAN S2E2 "CHAPTER 10: THE PASSENGER"

After “Chapter 9: The Marshal’s” cinematic scope, memorable guest performance from Timothy Olyphant, surprise reveal, and overall epicness, a sophomore slump seemed inevitable. In The Mandalorian Season 2, Episode 2 “The Passenger”, writer Jon Favreau and director Peyton Reed (Ant-Man) take a break from the space Western and instead go for a lower stakes creature feature with plenty of The Child and a new character with the very Star Wars (1977) design and name of Frog Lady (Misty Rosas). “The Passenger” is cute, occasionally funny (Pedro Pascal has dry comedic timing as Mando.) , and has charming practical effects. However, it comes across as middling “monster of the week” episode, albeit, with an effects budget that can support mid-atmosphere X-Wing chases.

With the “Mandalorian” that Peli Motto (A feisty Amy Sedaris) turning out to be Timothy Olyphant in Boba Fett’s armor, Mando is already out of leads and has all kinds of randos on his tail trying to capture The Child. However, Motto and her insectoid buddy Dr. Mandible know someone that knows a Mandalorian on the nearby Trask system. But to meet this contact, Mando must play intergalactic taxi driver to his wife, Frog Lady and her eggs, who need to reach Trask because it’s the only place the children can survive. Unfortunately, this simple transport mission is derailed by overeager New Republic X-Wing patrols, a planet with an unstable surface, a colony of giant spiders, and The Child’s appetite for frog eggs even though that is mostly played for laughs.

Even though this episode had a real “filler before the good stuff” vibe, Jon Favreau and Peyton Reed do an excellent job showing the heartwarming relationship between The Child and Mando. This starts with Mando’s willingness to give up his jetpack (But not the buttons that remotely pilot it.) in exchange for The Child in the episode’s opening action sequence and extends to his good-natured scolding when The Child starts gobbling down frog eggs and finally to the little hammock that he has for him in his sleeping quarters on the ship. It might be the sheer ridiculousness of the episode premise or his inability to communicate with Frog Lady (Except when she hacks the voice box of his deactivated killer droid Zero.), but Mando has a lot of heart and humanity this episode from his sarcastic jokes about everything falling apart to his miming and pretending his communication systems don’t work when he’s pulled over by some cops, er, New Republic X-Wing fighters.

THE MANDALORIAN S2E2 "CHAPTER 10: THE PASSENGER"
You either die a Rebel, or you live long enough to see yourself become a space cop.

Reed’s comedy background definitely comes in handy in “The Passenger” from stray shots of The Child greedily eyeing various types of eggs to Mando’s stoic exasperation at everything from losing a bet with Peli Motto to his entire ship breaking down. He and Favreau even do some bits in the episode, which are honestly its best parts, like Motto arguing with her pit droids over the way she likes her krayt dragon steak cooked and then plopping it in her mouth. Sedaris’ performance as Motto is always a delight, and I’d love to see her in every episode even if her role really boils down to plot facilitator and fetch quest giver.

Speaking of fetch quests, the bits with the spiders on the ice planet really do seem like that annoying level of grinding, hacking, and slashing (Or in this case: blasting and flambeeing) before you get to the main storyline. The designs are suitably creepy, and they really do leave a mark on Mando’s ship as the final shot of the episode is it limping and spluttering in space like something out of Firefly, not Star Wars. However, they end up being a diversion and a chance for Peyton Reed to indulge his creep insect fetish unlike the krayt dragon, which seem more baked into the episode’s storyline, Mando’s arc, and the Star Wars mythos as a whole. The New Republic-ex machina is also mishandled after a pretty fun chase sequence with the pilots basically reading off plot points from last season to left Mando off the hook. They’re just super boring cops with cool ships, which shows that revolutionaries eventually become the establishment in the end the end although Favreau and Reed aren’t interested in unpacking this.

After a spectacular season premiere, The Mandalorian takes a bit of a dip in quality in “The Passenger”, which features some toothless adversaries and a storyline that doesn’t conclude as much as spin out across the end of the episode’s finish line. However, Peyton Reed and Jon Favreau’s quirky and occasionally disgusting sense of humor, some The Child adorableness, and Misty Rosas’ warm and physicality as Frog Lady keeping it from being a total snooze, especially if you’re into Amblin creature features.

Overall Verdict: 7.6

Jonathan Majors Goes from Lovecraft Country to Ant-Man 3

Jonathan Majors

Deadline is reporting that Jonathan Majors has been tapped for a lead role in the third Ant-Man film. While the exact role is unknown, the rumor is he’ll play Kang the Conqueror, the next major villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Deadline also hints that there “could be a twist” with how the character is featured in the franchise.

Peyton Reed who directed the first two Ant-Man films will return to direct the third and Jeff Loveness is penning the script.

Majors is currently starring in Lovecraft Country on HBO and was recently seen in Da 5 Bloods from Spike Lee.

Kang the Conqueror debuted in Fantastic Four #19 in 1963 as Rama-Tut and The Avengers #8 in 1964 as Kang. The character is a time-traveling despot with a rather complicated history where he has played both hero and villain and even battled himself. Depending on how the character is depicted, it would point to the introduction of other classic characters soon to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kang was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He has appeared outside of comics in numerous Marvel animated shows and multiple video games.

Though mainly known as a villain of the Avengers, Kang has also clashed with the Fantastic Four, Inhumans, Young Avengers, and X-Men.

What Could Be Expected in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

After its initial success with Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America and Thor, Marvel Studios quickly realized that it had a formula for success on its hands and seemed ready to take advantage of it.  To do so though required a plan, and studio head Kevin Feige soon had broken down the movies into various phases, with the most recent Ant-Man signaling the end of phase 2.  Aside from the developments inside the movies, there have been some developments outside the movies which have affected the universe as well, chief among those the partial reversion of the rights to Spider-Man back to Marvel, or at least the use of Spider-Man inside the shared universe in a collaboration with Sony.

At the moment, we kn ow the entire lineup for phase 3, starting with Captain America: Civil War and continuing through two new Avengers movies and the Inhumans.  What might be expected in the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?  The release of the newest Fantastic Four might signal some of the changes which we can anticipate ahead (there are some spoilers below).

Ant-Man and Wasp

waspMany expected Ant-Man to be one of the bigger disappointments thus far in the MCU, due to its ongoing problems with the direction, after it passed from Edgar Wright to Peyton Reed. ¬†It seemed as though the studio was not going to take any risks with the character as they could not even confirm his role in any future movies. ¬†This presumably will all change now that the movie has been released. ¬†Although it can’t compare to the financial success of the year’s other Marvel movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, it also is noteworthy as being a better critical success, with a better rating at Rotten Tomatoes than Avengers. ¬†With both financial and critical success it seems as though there will be more to come from these characters. ¬†As was hinted at the end of the movie, there is still a lot of story left to tell as well, as the end hinted that Janet van Dyne might not be truly lost. ¬†Furthermore Hope van Dyne was presented with a Wasp suit by her father. ¬†There could be a lot of places to take the story of the two heroes, though one in particular might make the most sense …

Micronauts

micronautsThe Micronauts are a bit of an oddity in comics. ¬†They started out as a line of toys, who were written into comics after in the 1970s after Marvel writer Bill Mantlo saw his son open a box of the toys. ¬†The series started as somewhat of a standalone, but slowly was incorporated into the Marvel Universe, with appearances by some other mainstream characters. ¬†While the rights for the characters do not presently rest with Marvel, there is a long publication history with the characters and as the rights rest with other smaller comic companies, it would likely not be too difficult to reacquire the rights. ¬†Furthermore for the film studio that might try to replicate the runaway success of Guardians of the Galaxy, they might look smaller instead of bigger and find their next surprise hit there. ¬†There would be some hurdles, but also there might be a few benefits, as Janet van Dyne disappeared into the smallest dimension, the Microverse. ¬†This small universe is not in itself small, but the pathways to enter it are, and could give an explanation as to where the character disappeared. ¬†They might find Janet in the Microverse, but they might also be able to find some other heroes there as well…

Fantastic Four

fantastic fourThe Fantastic Four is one of the best known Marvel properties that does not lie within the company’s grasp at the moment, instead being controlled by Fox. ¬†While Fox has managed to control the X-Men franchise strongly enough with some decent movies, the Fantastic Four has mostly been a sequence of failures. ¬†The first of the series was good enough to warrant a sequel, but this was before the wake of Marvel movies changed how fans expected superhero movies to turn out. ¬†Marvel Studios was looking to be innovative, not just rehash generic action/sci-fi plots with superheroes thrown in. ¬†The most recent attempt by Fox to revamp the Fantastic Four might have been an attempt to do the same, to get some new excitement into the mix, but it evidently did not turn out that way. ¬†Critical response (and probably financial) will mean that the characters will have to be shelved for a while before the public has forgotten enough about them. ¬†Using the Sony/Spider-Man approach, lending the characters back to Marvel Studios might be a wiser choice, one that would probably make more money for both, and one which would keep the fans happy. ¬†By this point though, with two origin movies behind them, it might make sense to jump straight into the Fantastic Four with them already established as heroes. ¬†They could exist in a similar sense to Hank Pym in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, unknown but still present. ¬†More so, one of the places that is visited by the Fantastic Four is the Microverse, and if they were stuck there then it would be an easy bridge between Ant-Man and the return of Marvel’s first family.

Namor

namorIt is not entirely clear where the rights to Namor presently rest. ¬†Kevin Feige has indicated that Marvel, if they desired, could make a Namor movie, but that there would be some “entanglements”. ¬†Rights to the movie have rested with Universal, but seem to have at least partially lapsed. ¬†What remains is speculated to be the same arrangement with 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, that Marvel creates but Universal distributes. ¬†While it was not a problem when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still nascent, it seems moving forward that Marvel likes to create and distribute, and to get rewarded financially at 100% for its efforts. ¬†It might make exceptions for Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four but maybe less so for Namor. ¬†Another factor to consider is what DC Comics will manage to do with its own movies. ¬†The other of the big two comic companies is playing catchup, but also has the benefit of controlling the movie rights to nearly all of its characters. ¬†They have already greenlit an Aquaman movie, but it remains to be seen just how well it will do. ¬†Aquaman is after all a hero that is taken not so seriously in pop culture, but if DC can make it work, maybe it will give Marvel second thoughts about its own underwater hero.

Thunderbolts

thunderboltsThe fact that DC Comics is playing catchup in the movie game can also be to the advantage of Marvel. ¬†Marvel has already taken its gambles and seen those pay off, as with Guardians of the Galaxy. ¬†DC Comics, who are eager to catch up, are also taking their own gambles, and chief among those is the Suicide Squad. ¬†Featuring a group of villains forced into a heroic role, it might catch on, or it might flop. ¬†Fans certainly will not be very familiar with the concept, and the concept in itself is strange enough that it might not work. ¬†On the other hand, it might work, and if yes then it could serve as a gamble that Marvel gets to witness the results of without gambling anything itself. ¬†If popular it could use its own villain-turned-heroes team the Thunderbolts and catch the wave of people wanting more Suicide Squad before a sequel to the DC movie comes out. ¬†If played right as well it could help quieten those that think that the MCU’s villains are the weakest part of the movies.

Defenders

defendersMarvel is already a long way along in its development of the Doctor Strange movie, and holds the exclusive rights to the Hulk as long as he is not the featured character in a movie. ¬†A Namor movie could be forthcoming depending on the success of Aquaman, and if Fox sees the benefits of doing so, a collaboration might be in the works to return the Fantastic Four and associated characters to the MCU, which would include the Silver Surfer. ¬†Those four make up the original four members of the Defenders. ¬†For those that are getting a bit tired of seeing the Avengers over and over again on the big screen, it might be an excuse to feature this other Marvel team (although Marvel is working on a street level Defenders television show as well.) ¬†One interesting aspect about this team is that as opposed to the Avengers that the original team is made up of all non-street level characters, meaning that the stakes could be higher and that bigger things might happen as a result, such as …

World War Hulk

wwhThis has been a long rumored development in the MCU, but also not one that has not yet come to fruition.  Marvel has been careful to include in story arcs from the comics, and it has made for some great connections for fans of both mediums.  Although World War Hulk is not necessarily the best all time Hulk story, it is up there, and would be a better vehicle for putting a new spin on the Hulk stories, more so than what we are seeing at the movies, with both Hulk movies fitting the same general pattern of the Hulk being hunted by the government after smashing up a bunch of stuff.  It would also allow the character to move beyond the Avengers, which is a connection that is not as strong in the comics.  Also if all the pieces fell into place, it would mean that a lot of the major players from the crossover might be able to make it into the movie, save for the X-Men.

Hawkeye

kateRumors abound that another major character will die in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War (especially that there are pictures from the set of a funeral sequence), and without any other way to verify this other than by seeing a movie that will not be released until 2016, it still seems likely that one of the characters that might be easiest to kill off would be Hawkeye. ¬†He is among the less popular of the main characters in the MCU, and has been almost a footnote to the movies series, appearing to provide fans with another superhero, but also one that doesn’t really do much. ¬†Even if he does not die in the movie, it is also worth noting that the character is one which is on the verge of retirement, being somewhat older than the other heroes and with responsibilities to his family. ¬†This could leave open the possibility for a Hawkeye movie except not as we might expect. ¬†As the movies expand in popularity it makes sense to be closer to four quadrant movies, and one way to do this is to introduce more female characters. ¬†If Clint Barton were to retire on screen, it could open the door for Kate Bishop to step up, providing the MCU with another superheroine, and one with a lot more of an edge than Clint.

She-Hulk and Spider-Woman

shehulkOn that same note, if Marvel is looking to keep its female fans happy it might look to develop these characters as well.  Most of the main Marvel superheroines would be tied up elsewhere, with most of the major heroines being members of the X-Men, and other such as Sue Storm or Medusa mostly only operating as parts of teams.  Others such as Elektra and even Hellcat are tied to the television series, which mean that only a few major female characters would be left to get the big screen treatment.  She-Hulk and Spider-Woman could both be strong contenders to hold down their own movie, especially if Marvel did something unexpected and went off the script with the Spider-Gwen version of Spider-Woman.  It would also help to fill the ranks of the Avengers, a team which needs to be mixed up a bit from time to time to keep the roster fresh and the fans intrigued.

Ka-Zar

tigraKa-Zar is one of the longest running Marvel characters, but also one that has not had a very solid fanbase in modern years, although unquestionably popular among many.  Although Marvel is keen on taking risks, could it make the Savage Land work the same as it made Guardians of the Galaxy work?  The Savage Land is the source of many stories within the Marvel Universe, though most of them with the X-Men.  Why might the MCU be interested in the Savage Land?  It is a fantasy setting, and while it does not match up with other heroes, could still serve as an explanation for the re-appearance of some characters who also happen to be Avengers РHercules, Tigra or even the Black Knight.  It might be a stretch, but Marvel will be looking for new blood for its Avengers as it moves forward, as is evident from the new roster after Age of Ultron.  Tigra especially might be interesting, as she not only is her own character, but is also indirectly responsible for the development of Hellcat, whose non-superpowered version is already set to be introduced in the Marvel television show Jessica Jones.

Iron Man 4

iron manThis is perhaps the biggest question to solve in phase 4.  A big part of what made the MCU so popular is that it based its hopes on the initial movie, Iron Man.  If this movie had failed so too would the plans for the shared universe.  Success would probably have still come the way of the studio, but it would have been a longer road.  Part of the runaway success of the original Iron Man was that Robert Downey Jr. was perfectly cast as Tony Stark, what some might say is not even really acting as he seems to be mostly playing himself.  That having been said, superheroes never really age but actors and actresses do.  While the studio can get a few more years out of Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson (all in their early to mid 30s), and even a lot more out of Paul Bettany (whose character the Vision wears so much makeup as to be ageless) and Elizabeth Olsen (who is in her mid 20s), it can probably expect less out of Robert Downey Jr, who is now 50.  They might push him for a couple more movies, but eventually he will need to be replaced, and the biggest question would then be by who, as the character is one that is of highest importance to the MCU.  There might be no bigger question heading forward in the MCU than who will fill this role.

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day! What’s everyone excited for? While you decide on that, here’s some news and reviews from around the web to keep you busy.

Around the Tubes

BBC – The 100 Greatest American Films – Agree? Disagree?

Comics Alliance – ‚ÄėAnt-Man‚Äô Director Peyton Reed Reveals Alternate Ending – An interesting ending. Better? Worse? What do you think?

Bleeding Cool – Europe Comics Will Host International Digital Comics In English – Pretty cool to see this.

Comics Alliance РMarvel’s Kevin Feige on When We’ll See The Wasp in the MCU РA good plan? A band plan?

The Christian Science Monitor РHow comic books are combating extremism in Pakistan  РA lot of articles on this lately.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Nothing But Comics – The Disciples #2

Comics Alliance – Mercury Heat

Peyton Reed Tackles Ants and Beatles

peyton reedIt was announced on Saturday that director Peyton Reed will be replacing Edgar Wright to tackle Marvel‘s Ant-Man. Writer Adam McKay will contribute to the film’s script. This comes after week’s of speculation and false announcements by sites as to who would step up to help the project.

Reed is a hot property when it comes to movies based on comic books as he’ll also be taking on the movie adaptation of the graphic novel The Fifth Beatle. That graphic novel is based on the story of Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles and a major reason they broke out and become global phenomenons. So… that’s two “comic book movies” the director will be taking on.

Ant-Man hits theaters July 17, 2015 with a cast led by Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas.