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Blue Beetle Coming to the Big Screen with Director Angel Manuel Soto

Blue Beetle

Rumored for a while, a Blue Beetle film is getting some movement. Angel Manuel Soto has been tapped by Warner Bros. to helm the DC Comics film. Soto was behind the 2020 Sundance drama Charm City Kings. Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer wrote the script for the film.

Blue Beetle will be the first DC film to center around a Latino hero. The movie will be based around the current individual who holds the mantle, Jaime Reyes. Reyes gains superhero abilities courtesy of alien armor. The character debuted in 2006 and was created by Keith Giffen, John Rogers, and Cully Hamner. He first appeared as Reyes in Infinite Crisis #3 and as Blue Beetle in Infinite Crisis #5.

The character has been depicted in other media beyond comics. He appeared in the tenth season of Smallville and the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold as well as Young Justice: Invasion, DC Super Hero Girls, and Justice League Action. The character also has appeared in animated films such as Justice League vs. Teen Titans, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, and Justice League Dark: Apokolips War.

Legendary Pictures Announces Two Godzilla vs. Kong Prequel Graphic Novels

Godzilla vs. Kong

In anticipation of the March release of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures‘ epic action-adventure Godzilla vs. Kong, Legendary Comics has announced a publishing program that will allow fans to dive deeper into stories relating to the upcoming cinematic showdown between two of the most beloved pop culture Titans of all time—the great Godzilla and the mighty Kong! The program features two new epic prequel graphic novels; an anthology featuring past fan-favorite comic series; two endearing titles for young readers—an original children’s picture book and a young children’s board book; an official behind-the-scenes art book; and a novelization that takes readers deeper into the worlds of Monarch, the Titans, and more. Each title will set the stage for this not-to-be-missed battle royale.

Godzilla Dominion—the prequel graphic novel written by Greg Keyes with art by Drew Edward Johnson will feature a unique story that picks up after the events of the film Godzilla: King of the Monsters, where the Titans have risen and the reign of Godzilla has begun. As told entirely from Godzilla’s point of view, the graphic novel brings new insights into the King of Monsters: his habitats, ancient rivalries, encounters with new Titans, and other challenges. As his new era of dominance is tested, a coming confrontation with another King looms. Available on March 30, 2021 and available for pre-order.

A sequel to the graphic novel Skull Island: Birth of Kong and a prelude to the film Godzilla vs. Kong, the upcoming prequel graphic novel, Kingdom Kong, will follow a group of highly skilled military pilots gathered together on Skull Island to see who has ‘the right stuff’ to take on a dangerous mission into the hollow earth. One of the pilots, Audrey, is haunted by the memories of a monstrous clash with one of Godzilla’s titanic rivals that left deep scars. When Skull Island is attacked by Camazotz, a bat-like Titan, Audrey must to come to terms with her inner demons, and finding his home newly threatened, Kong must rise to face this usurper that would plunge the world into perpetual night. Kingdom Kong is written by Marie Anello with art by ZID. Available on March 30, 2021 and available for pre-order.

Kong finds himself in the center of a charming and enthralling children’s book, Kong & Me, by New York Times’ bestselling author Kiki Thorpe with illustrations by Nidhi Chanani. Young fans will be able to follow along as the mighty Titan and his new pal spend a day of fun and adventure exploring the many wonders of Skull Island—proving that friendships come in many sizes and no matter how different we are, no one is too big or small to find a true friend. Available on March 30, 2021 and available for pre-order.

The engaging and family-friendly board book Godzilla vs. Kong: Sometimes Friends Fight (But They Always Make Up), from Insight Editions and featuring art from illustrator Carol Herring, features heartwarming lessons and introduces the beloved Godzilla and Kong characters to a younger generation. Making new friends isn’t always easy for kids. That is equally true for two giant monsters, where small misunderstandings can easily blossom into enormous conflicts. This book provides tips on how to be a good friend by using these two Titans to show young kids how to behave in familiar situations…but on a much larger scale. Available on April 6, 2021 and to you can pre-order it now.

New York Times’ bestselling author Greg Keyes returns once again to the Monsterverse with Titan Books’ Godzilla vs. Kong: The Official Movie Novelization, taking readers deeper into the worlds of Monarch, the Titans, and so much more. Humanity fights for its future as Godzilla and Kong embark on a path of destruction that will see the two most powerful forces of nature on the planet collide in an all-out war. Available on April 6, 2021 and is up for pre-order.

For new readers wanting to discover the backstories of Godzilla and Kong for the first time or fans revisiting their favorite adventures, the Monsterverse Titanthology Vol 1 brings the previously released graphic novels, Skull Island: The Birth of Kong (2017) and Godzilla: Aftershock (2019), together in one legendary volume for the first time ever. Available on May 11, 2021.

Godzilla vs. Kong: One Will Fall, The Art of the Ultimate Battle Royalefrom Insight Editions and written by Daniel Wallace with a special foreword by director Adam Wingard—takes fans behind-the-scenes revealing how this monstrously epic film was brought to the screen. The deluxe book will feature a dynamic selection of exclusive concept art, pre-production materials, on-set photography and insight from the filmmakers, making it the ultimate guide to an iconic movie showdown. Available on May 21, 2021 and it’s available for pre-order.

Get a Look at Snyder’s Justice League’s Joker

Jared Leto‘s Joker is back in Zack Snyder‘s Justice League and a new look has been released of this version of the character.

The character was missing in the original release but will be back in the new cut of the movie which debuts on HBO Max on March 18th.

The character in the film wasn’t a part of Snyder’s original vision but came to him after and he decided this is likely the only chance for Leto’s Joker to meet Ben Affleck’s Batman so an additional scene was added to the film.

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All About Me

It was a relatively quiet day yesterday as far as comic news but we’ve still got some for you to start your day!

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Grab a slice of ALL ABOUT ME – Free comics!

The Beat – The Beat’s 2021 Creator Survey Part 4: the year we really missed conventions – More thoughts from the industry.

Variety – Geoff Johns Still Working With WarnerMedia, Despite Ray Fisher’s Claim Writer Is Leaving Studio – ….

Movie Review: Wonder Woman 1984 Delivers Throwback Fun

Wonder Woman 1984

The much delayed and anticipated Wonder Woman 1984 has finally been released in an unprecedented roll of the dice and experiment by Warner Bros. and its parent company AT&T. Released on HBO Max and in theaters, the film has pivoted a few times due to the current pandemic and shifting needs of consumers. Taking advantage of my big-screen television and surround sound, and not wanting to risk COVID, I took advantage of my HBO Max subscription to watch the film and in doing so, I felt transported back decades to the early years of comic film adaptations. That’s both a good and bad thing in the end. But, the end result is a film that’ll be polarizing and over years most likely dissected, analyzed, and opinion will shift for the positive.

Shifting the setting decades from the original, Wonder Woman is now in 1984 living her dual life. Longing for the return of her Steve Trevor, she’s been lonely and somewhat isolated. Enter the dreamstone, a MacGuffin that can make wishes come true. A failed businessman, Maxwell Lord, also wants the statue in hopes that he’ll be able to turn around his ventures and become a worldwide business dynamo. What results is a film that examines the 80s while also upending superhero movies in many ways.

Directed by the returning Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman 1984 features a story by Jenkins and Geoff Johns with a screenplay by Jenkins, Johns, and Dave Callaham. The story and direction have their bumps but overall the film feels like a throwback to earlier years of superhero films both in tone and look. This isn’t a film filled with cynicism and negativity. Instead, it’s a story about hope, love, and a positive future. It’s bright at times and wears its pacifist leanings on its armored sleeve.

The biggest break from other superhero films is the lack of a villain with a motivation to cause harm. Played by Pedro Pascal, Maxwell Lord is Donald Trump mixed with 1980s television hucksters. It’s established early Lord is a fraud attempting to make money through a pyramid scheme. He wants a successful business not to rule anything and we see that through his actions.

In the end, the issue presented is desires uncontrolled. Lord’s plan spirals out of control putting the world on the brink of nuclear war. In that way, we get a very different story from DC and Marvel films of the past. This isn’t a nefarious plan so much as a mistake. It’s a scam that gets out of control and results in unintended consequences.

Jenkins attempts to have fun with that spiraling out of control world as things amp up slowly and then the avalanche. Lord wants more and uses his newfound powers in an attempt to enrich himself and at the same time also create some stability… which only creates more instability. We’ve seen a similar plot in Bruce Almighty. While that film stayed isolated to Buffalo, this takes it to a global scale.

The team slowly builds Lords out of control failure from his empty office, to the Middle East, to the White House, and then beyond. It’s a ramping up of an out of control power and a man desperate to figure out what to do next. He easily could have just made himself the ruler of the world but he doesn’t. He wants to be “the” businessman.

Jenkins attempts to bring an 80s vision to the film’s 1980s setting. That results in a mixed result. The tone of the film has much more in common with Richard Donner‘s Superman than it does with anything post-2000, the “modern superhero film era”. Its colors, lighting, and overall attitude are one of positivity. It has a light tone never taking itself too seriously and playing loose with the logic of the story. We’re treated to a finale that breaks from the traditional punching that crescendoes most comic films. It puts an exclamation point that the film attempts to do something different.

But what the film really does is remove itself from the meta-cinematic universe we come to expect. Yes, the film has the return of Steve Trevor from the first story but it has little direct impact on other DC films nor does it set up or continue a meta story that involves 20 other films. It’s a two-issue story arc giving us breaks between drawn-out “events”. It’s supposed to be a breezy popcorn film focused on fun and it generally succeeds.

The film absolutely has issues with its story. Trevor’s return has a lingering of rape due to how it’s done. Kristen Wiig‘s Barbara Minerva/Cheetah is underused. Some of the film could have been tightened up in the details. The film is loose with some fat to it. Minor changes would have made a leaner and tighter film. Special effects at times are rough and some fight sequences feel a bit uninspired. But, every comic film released has had problems none are perfect and there are modern releases that are in a far rougher shape than this.

The actors all bring some interesting aspects to the film. Gal Gadot is supposed to be front and center and while she plays alone very well, she doesn’t quite have the draw power she had in the first film. That’s partially because everyone else is so over the top in their performances that her Diana/Wonder Woman comes off as too serious and dour at times.

Returning is Chris Pine as Steve Trevor. Pine has the most fun of the actors continually being excited about the world he’s returned to. The joke happens over and over but Pine’s delivery never gets old and through him, the film gets to poke a lot of fun at the time period. Pine is our time capsule reminding us of the fashion, dances, and innovations of the decade.

Joining Gadot and Pine are Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva and Pedro Pascal as Maxwell Lord, the two “villains” of the film. I put that word in quotations because neither is truly evil.

Wiig plays the bookwormish Minerva who also works in the museum with Gadot’s Diana. In Diana she sees someone she inspires to be and her wish to do so brings unintended consequences. Wiig does a fantastic job of evolving from one thing to the other playing a convincing flower blooming. She does the stumbling nerd well and then the confident woman everyone wants to be around. There’s a lot of 80s John Hughes in the performance and it captures the decade well.

Pedro Pascal puts in an over the top performance tapping so much of what was wrong the decade. His scheming Lord is the insecure loser and con-artist we knew so many of the titans of the time were. Donald Trump, televangelists, late-night infomercials, Lord is all of these things in a bad wig. He’s the embodiment of everything wrong during that time period and does it with a delivery that emphasizes the slime. But, he also gives us a villain who isn’t so much one and as we learn someone the audience can relate to more than they want to admit.

Wonder Woman 1984 feels like the enjoyment will be directly inversed to how cynical one is. The more you are, the less you’ll like it. It’s a film that doesn’t take itself seriously and just roles with its ideas. The action sequences are enjoyable, performances a bit over the top, and a story that you just roll with. This is a popcorn film that wants you to not think and just go for the ride. It’s comic book escapism that takes its tone and look from comics delivering popcorn digital enjoyment.

Overall Rating: 8.0

Wonder Woman 3 is a Go with Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot Back

Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984 is a success in the eyes of Warner Bros. and its parent company AT&T. Soon after the film’s release on Christmas Day, the film studio announced a third film has been greenlit. Director Patty Jenkins will return to complete the trilogy with Gal Gadot starring once again. The film “will have a traditional theatrical release”.

Wonder Woman 1984‘s release had a “strong opening weekend performance” according to Warner Bros. chief Toby Emmerich.

The film opened with $16.7 million domestically from 2,100 theaters and $68.3 million from the international box office. That’s one of the best debuts post-COVID.

The film opened in both theaters and the same day for HBO Max viewers. The film studio said that around half of the platform’s retail subscribers watched the film on Friday. Millions more viewed it through cable or wireless access. HBO Max is reported to have 12.6 million active users.

Those stats exceeded expectations in the first 24 hours on the service and the momentum is expected to continue well beyond that.

It’s unknown when the film will make it into production as Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot are working on a film about Cleopatra from PAramount and Jenkins is set to direct a Star Wars film, Rogue Squadron, which is slated for Chrismas 2023.

Get a New Look at Batman: Soul of the Dragon

Batman: Soul of the Dragon, the all-new next entry in the DC Universe Movies canon, arrives January 12, 2021 on Digital and January 26, 2021 on 4K Combo Pack & Blu-ray.

Check out four new images from the film.

Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger (voiced by Michael Jai White) takes this fight scene to vintage 1970s extremes in this silhouetted image
Bruce Wayne (voiced by David Giuntoli) gets knocked down … but he’s ready to get up again and continue a battle during his marital arts training.
Richard Dragon (voiced by Mark Dacascos) prepares for a fight.
Lady Shiva (voiced by Kelly Hu) reigns on high with Soulbreaker, a sword of incredible power, mounted on the wall above her.

An all-new original animated film, Batman: Soul Of The Dragon does a deep dive into Elseworlds vibes by putting Batman in the midst of the swinging 1970s. Faced with a deadly menace from his past, and along with his mentor O-Sensei, Bruce Wayne must enlist the help of three former classmates – world-renowned martial artists Richard Dragon, Ben Turner and Lady Shiva – to battle the monsters of this world and beyond. The film is rated R for some violence.

Get a New Look at Batman: Soul of the Dragon

Plenty of flame-illuminated scenes to spotlight in Batman: Soul of the Dragon, the all-new DC Universe Movies release coming January 12, 2021 to Digital and January 26, 2021 to 4K and Blu-ray.

O’Sensei (voiced by James Hong) greets Bruce Wayne (voiced by David Giuntoli) in the candlelit great hall.
O’Sensei (voiced by James Hong) explains the ritual of attempting to break the stone to Bruce Wayne (voiced by David Giuntoli) and Rip Jagger (voiced by Chris Cox).
Richard Dragon (voiced by Mark Dacascos) attempts to talk sense into a young, stubborn Bruce Wayne.
Lady Shiva (voiced by Kelly Hu) prepares to take on a band of ninjas. Bet on Shiva.

An all-new original animated film, Batman: Soul Of The Dragon does a deep dive into Elseworlds vibes by putting Batman in the midst of the swinging 1970s. Faced with a deadly menace from his past, and along with his mentor O-Sensei, Bruce Wayne must enlist the help of three former classmates – world-renowned martial artists Richard Dragon, Ben Turner, and Lady Shiva – to battle the monsters of this world and beyond. The film is rated R for some violence.

The ensemble cast features a core group of actors playing martial arts students-turned-heroes in David Giuntoli (Grimm, A Million Little Things) as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Mark Dacascos (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Iron Chef America, Hawaii Five-0) as Richard Dragon, Kelly Hu (Arrow, X2: X-Men United) as Lady Shiva, and Michael Jai White (Spawn, reprising his role from Arrow) as Ben Turner/Bronze Tiger. Their mentor O-Sensei is voiced by James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China, Blade Runner). Josh Keaton (Voltron: Legendary Defender; Green Lantern: The Animated Series) is featured as Jeffrey Burr, and additional voices are provided by veteran VO actors Grey Griffin, Chris Cox, Erica Luttrell, Robin Atkin Downes, Patrick Seitz, Jamie Chung, and Eric Bauza.

Sam Liu (Reign of the Supermen, Batman: The Killing Joke) is Producer and Director of Batman: Soul Of The Dragon, utilizing a script by Jeremy Adams (Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge). Producers are Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) and Kimberly S. Moreau (Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Michael Uslan is Executive Producer. Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: Red Son) and Sam Register are Executive Producers.

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Fantastic Four: Road Trip #1

It’s one of two new comic book days this week! What are you all excited to get? Sound off in the comments. While you wait for the day to get rolling, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

How to Love Comics – How To Start Reading The Hilda Graphic Novels [Guide + Reading Order] – A handy guide!

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: An unlikely pairing is necessary for the greater good in PURPLE HYACINTH – Free comics!

The New York Times – Trading Box Office for Streaming, but Stars Still Want Their Money – Warner Bros. decision will have some major repercussions beyond the theater.

Reviews

Talking Comics – Fantastic Four: Road Trip #1
Talking Comics – Killadelphia #10

Warner Bros. Shakes Things Up with Dueling Releases on HBO Max and Theaters for 2021

Warner Bros.

It was going to eventually happen but COVID has sped things up as Warner Bros. is making an earthshaking move when it comes to movie distribution. The studio will send 17 films to HBO Max for 31 days, to be released the same day as theaters.

Wonder Woman 1984‘s HBO Max and theater release on Christmas day was just the tip of the iceberg as more are to come.

The studio’s 2021 slate includes The Suicide Squad, The Matrix 4, Dune, Godzilla vs. Kong, and Space Jam: A New Legacy. Other films include Little Things, Judas and the Black Messiah, Tom & Jerry, Mortal Kombat, Those Who Wish Me Dead, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, In The Heights, Reminiscence, Malignant, The Many Saints of Newark, King Richard, and Cry Macho.

The decision will cause an uproar from theater owners who not only lose in this model but are struggling, and will struggle, to stay open due to the pandemic. The decision, according to reports, was not shared with exhibitors and was kept secret at Warner Bros. The studio will likely need to renegotiate with theater chains and offer up something so to as not completely lose their support.

But, something needed to be done. With a still unknown future and COVID vaccination likely to take most of 2021 the release schedule would be shaky and risky to rely just on theaters. Further delays would hurt the entire industry further creating a backlog of productions and likely cutting numerous projects as held up films would take up future release dates creating a ripple effect.

Ann Sarnoff, chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group said:

We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group. No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do. We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021. With this unique one-year plan, we can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren’t quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films. We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances.

WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar added:

After considering all available options and the projected state of moviegoing throughout 2021, we came to the conclusion that this was the best way for WarnerMedia’s motion picture business to navigate the next 12 months. More importantly, we are planning to bring consumers 17 remarkable movies throughout the year, giving them the choice and the power to decide how they want to enjoy these films. Our content is extremely valuable, unless it’s sitting on a shelf not being seen by anyone. We believe this approach serves our fans, supports exhibitors and filmmakers, and enhances the HBO Max experience, creating value for all.

Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich also said:

This hybrid exhibition model enables us to best support our films, creative partners and moviegoing in general throughout 2021. We have a fantastic, wide-ranging slate of titles from talented and visionary filmmakers next year, and we’re excited to be able get these movies in front of audiences around the world. And, as always, we’ll support all of our releases with innovative and robust marketing campaigns for their theatrical debuts, while highlighting this unique opportunity to see our films domestically via HBO Max as well.

The films will roll at internationally as planned and the decision is focused on the US audience.

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