Disney Eyes Thanos’ Crown As the Real King (of Trailers)

Well, Hakuna Matata! 

If you are one of the very few people in America that has not yet seen the trailer to The Lion King live adaptation, you missed a fitting coronation. 

Disney Studios has its new king of trailers with the latest — and most anticipated — “live action” release with more than 224 million views in its first 24 hours. The trailer, highlighting the majestic opening of the original with Rafiki presenting Mufasa’s heir to the witnesses of Pride Rock, was released during the Thanksgiving football games. 

The Disney trailer comes in behind only one in the history of movies — Avengers: Infinity War, which earned the clicks of 238 million people in one day. (The trailer is technically Marvel’s even though Mickey owns that too.) 

The celebration and ballyhoo over the trailer comes down to the mastery and painstaking attention to detail Jon Favreau took with this trailer. In fact, it is nearly identical to the 1994 release of the animated classic. 

This is really amazing to see what a movie director can do when he begins as a movie fan. 

In addition to the legendary James Earl Jones returning as Mufasa, the acclaimed cast includes Donald Glover as Simba, Beyonce as Nala, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Alfre Woodard as Simba’s mother Sarabi, John Oliver as Zazu, John Kani as Rafiki, Billy Eichner as Timon, and Seth Rogen as Pumbaa.

The Lion King roars into theaters July 2019. 

Margot Robbie Reveals ‘Birds of Prey’ Title Because Spelling Sucks

Aquaman is about to come up for air, and with the Purple People Eater from Marvel not coming around for another several months, DC Comics and WB Pictures are doing everything they can to monopolize as much of the nerd spotlight as possible. 

And ever since news about this woman coming back to cinemas in February 2020 with her three amigos and fighting the big Black Mask, people have been pretty stoked about Birds of Prey. 

Another movie of inclusion. Another film with leading ladies. Another chance for DC Comics to gain a step closer to Marvel’s domination. And then Margot Robbie did this and barfed an entire collection of Scrabble game pieces on Instagram. 

Can someone PUH-LEASE call one of those brainiac kids with the Scripps National Spelling Bee to help us understand what in the red, white, and blue hell we are to call this movie?!

So, we have (big breath, kids) Birds of Prey…and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. (Annnnnd exhale)

That is not only coming from the runaway star of Suicide Squad, but also this new movie’s producer (at least, with a credit). And that’s her Instagram feed with no spelling filter. 

Not for nothing, but this seems legit. No spoof. No fake news. Sorry to disappoint. The official Warner Bros. Pictures Twitter account also shared the news.

The Cathy Yan-directed CBM has been dropping bombs on us all lately. First, we learn Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane) and Jurnee Smollett-Bell (TrueBlood, Friday Night Lights) are taking over the roles of Huntress and Black Canary respectively. Then, Rosie Perez will be Detective Renee Montoya. Ella Jay Basco (Veep, Grey’s Anatomy) completes the quartet girl gang as Cassandra Cain, a.k.a. Batgirl No. 4. 

And then, this happened. 

Ewan “Young Obi-Wan” McGregor signed on to be the villain we knew and wished was coming Black Mask. This movie has some serious mojo working, so Warner Bros. gave its multi-hued star permission to post the title for the film. 

She did and we learned two things

First, Harley appears to be breaking free from the 24-karat gold-plated chains of bondage from Jared Leto’s Joker. While those two hooking-up plays well with canon, so does Harley Quinn leaving the Clown Prince of Crime. 

If you don’t have a chance to read through Harley Quinn #25, sift through this thorough read in io9 for some details how that is so.

What matters is that whatever this long-winded “emancipation” means, it could come across well as a liberation tale for her as she forges ahead with this tetrahedron of tumult. 

And second, Harley is apparently much smarter than you. Like, you can spell “fantabulous” and “emancipation” in the same sentence. 

(Now, chin up, at least we have Obi-Wan. Help us, dude. You may be our only hope.) 

Can We Now Get Ready for the Stan Lee Biopic?

Stanley Lieber was a kid in New York with a vivid imagination, a drive to tell a story, and an inherent call to do something greater than himself. He did and, due respect to the troika of Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, and Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, died as the patriarch of the comic book industry. 

After 95 years, one would think the man who would become Stan Lee had a life rich with experience and left nothing in the tank. Only, not so much.

He still had ideas to do more cameos in Marvel CBMs. He probably had screen writing angles inside of his head. He arguably wanted to extend the reach of Marvel further into pop culture. Stan Lee was still spry at his advanced age, which is probably why his death was a touch shocking. You expect a nonagenarian to buy the farm but not that guy. 

And now, here we are — all benefiting from his legacy, all appreciating what he truly provided, all languishing in his wake. So, now what? 

Let’s honor the man with his own story.

It’s only fitting for a man whose life revolved around telling stories that we serve him a story that revolved around him. In the 1960s, this teenage kid was dreaming of what his future generations would consume. He single-handedly shaped nerd culture because he thought it would be cool to have grown-ups rock spandex and a snarky attitude. 

In 1992, Lee told the Washington Post that his goal with creating his characters was “to make them real flesh-and-blood characters with personality.” That has always been the intrigue of his characters — a nerd that gets bit by a spider, a soldier froze to death but back with new powers and his same ethics, a meek doctor victimized by a freak accident to become a monster, a Marine who becomes a vigilante against the forces of evil. 

Each of these characters (and so many more) all carry one thing in common — the internal struggle between being right and doing what is right. Stan Lee channeled the hometown boroughs of New York post-WWII. The tense racial relations seen in Black Panther, the federal acrimony seen in Captain America, the cry for mentors during that time found in X-Men, the dank void in female leadership was found in SHIELD, Fantastic Four, and X-Men

It’s been said in the comic world that the mold was broken when they made Stan Lee. While that may be true, he reshaped it and re-shattered that mold time and time again. When there was a plight in America, he talked about it. Where there were social ills that were left unanswered, he created a strip to ask questions. 

Stan Lee was ahead of his time in so many ways, which is why his story is the only one left untold from his life. And it should be told, if out of respect than anything. 

Let’s find the man to tell that story.

Many people, many fans have seen this picture and said, tweeted, and posted what a cool image of Stan Lee that is…only, it’s not. 

That is the great Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad, Godzilla, and Malcolm in the Middle fame. He is known for taking on a role and taking over the character. Did you see his depiction of President Lyndon B. Johnson? Watch it and get back to us.  

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A couple years ago, Cranston did a movie called The Infiltrator. It was a decent movie that holds up his acting chops, but not so much at the box office.

Some comic book nerd from Tumblr (EntertainMeWeakly) saw this movie poster and determined a look-alike was among us — a doppelganger of the most geeky kind. And the hero image above was the result. 

There, we have a vintage Stan Lee apparition, trademark aviator shades and all. And in those specs, images of two of Lee’s most noteworthy creations, Iron Man and Captain America. It was epic. It was inspiring. And it was viral within seconds.

Would Marvel actually create a movie about the man who has created all their movies? The conversation fizzled a little, thanks to Lee’s spry demeanor and consistent array of cameos, but now that he is gone, the chatter has seen a significant uptick — both the good and the bad reasons. 

Sure, we get to see a young Stan in World War II. Yes, the foundational moments of Marvel and its iconic characters. But, will they focus on times (allegedly) when Jack Kirby created the characters and Stan Lee became the ‘Vince McMahon’ or ‘Don King’ of the comic business? 

He was a master promoter with masterful ideas, so there has always been some question as to how many of the iconic ideas were his. Regardless, that’s up to Marvel how all that will be handled. What matters is that a movie needs to be done. We have our subject matter. We have our timeline. We even have our possible star to portray Lee.

According to In Touch Weekly, back in 2002, he said,

“Someone wants to do a movie of my life now and he’s writing a script, and I said to him, ‘What the hell could you do? I’ve never been arrested, I haven’t taken drugs, I’ve had the same wife for 54 years… where’s anything of interest to people?'”

Oh, I’m sure Hollywood could muster a little interest, don’t you?

A-LIST | The Top 5 Movie Marketing Campaigns of 2018

Maybe you have noticed and been a little perturbed that Aquaman has not been heavy in the marketing mojo cookie jar? With so much riding on that movie for both DC Comics and Warner Bros., they had to be cautious with strategy, a little trepidatious with marketing.

One bad leak and that movie sinks. James Wan knows it and has been masterful about protecting it. No leaks. No stinks. At least so far, so quit complaining.

That said, 2018 has been full of product placement, website takeovers, POS positioning, and a slew of other avenues for movie marketing. So, while DC and WB saves their pennies for outreach, let’s take a minute to admonish some of the most impressive of this movie season.

Here is the next A-List for …

The Top 5 Move Marketing Campaigns of 2018:

(And uh, Warner Bros., this is how to get it done in 2019.)

5. Black Panther 


What could have been “just another Marvel movie,” was anything but thanks to the dynamic marketing and grassroots outreach of this film. Marvel, Disney, and Ryan Coogler listened to where the spikes of interest resonated and targeted those areas.

Their heat map was red-hot — radio tours with various stars, musical placement on diverse TV shows, and even a slammin’ soundtrack created by Kendrick Lamar that debuted at No. 1 and even Spotify got involved, creating one of its hottest lists in years.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/3pLdWdkj83EYfDN6H2N8MR

4. Mission Impossible: Fallout 

There’s a definite reason Paramount keeps bringing Tom Cruise back to do these films – the franchise is an open cash register. Not since any James Bond franchise has any movie been anticipated because of the stunt work. And that five-foot-nothing Tom Cruise does most of them himself. Man’s game! His work is so dangerous in the MI franchise that he had to tell Superman, “NO.”

(BTW, it was the Halo Jump. Tom jumped on the first take. Henry stayed in the plane.)

For more than 20 years (yes, really), this saga of Ethan Hunt keeps fans on the edge of their seats with what Cruise is really going to do to earn your respect. The stories come from everywhere — and they are entirely spoiler-proof. They all start, somehow, the same way, “You just have to see it to believe it.”

3. A Quiet Place

This was nothing but respect. No one had to shout “SPOILER ALERT,” because it didn’t happen. The trailer began the momentum. It was remarkably different. Think about it: When was the last time you watched a two-minute trailer with seven words in it?

We have a monster movie wrapped in the guise of a family drama. Bad kids start whining? Open the door and they get eaten by aliens. The dog won’t stop barking? Where’s that window. Ironic, isn’t it? The movie that forces you to stop everything and pay attention in complete silence, was a massive success in the box office because of word-of-mouth advertising.

2. Ready Player One

Steven Spielberg knew his demographic and pursued them with reckless abandon. If you knew anything about the ’80s, this movie was purposely pimped out for you. The soundtrack featured Rush’s Tom Sawyer and Van Halen’s Jump. The trailer showed arcade champs like Q-Bert, film references like Back to the Future, and toys from those movies like The Iron Giant. 

Granted, it was overkill with the references but if you represent the zany ’80s, you didn’t care. You laughed with every image, every tune, leaving the people in the audience who only read about that stuff in books thinking, “What’s the deal-io, brah.” The deal was brilliant because every geek store — video, audio, book, game, broadcast — this movie got a cornucopia of love, appearances, and free advertising.

1. Deadpool 2

There is no question who’s the champ of the blockbuster marketing in 2018. This movie was in places that has never been considered before, fitting for a comic book movie that has never pushed the envelope so far.

The content the film provided was enough. The mockery of other films gave it even more leverage. But the national takeover this movie took on shelves everywhere was a site to behold. For instance, Deadpool photobombing?

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That was absolutely genius — and had to be ridiculously expensive! I remember being at Wal-Mart seeing this and laughed out loud. So much, someone carted by and grumbled under his breath (and easily a triple-chin) “What a nerd.”

And what about a trailer that had nothing to do with the movie but allowed Ryan Reynolds to flex as… Bob Ross?!

Are you kidding me?! That is no “happy little accident.”

The way 20th Century Fox took out the boundaries and put Deadpool’s face everywhere was impressive. Much like Apple with ‘Think’ and Obama with ‘Change’, this owned ‘takeover’ and it will be a feat of strength for any other movie to come close anytime in the future.

The ‘God’ of Kaiju Films Gets a Modern Reboot

If you are familiar with nuclear lizards, abnormally large apes, and insects that could use Raid as mouthwash, you know about Kaiju. 

The word is Japanese for “giant monsters.” On film, they always meet that mark, despite critical or U.S. box-office success back in the 1950s. But did you know the trend to love seeing these behemoths destroy city after city in the Asian skyline began 20 years before Godzilla

In 1934, a movie known as Daibustu Kaikoku was made. Stateside, that reads The Giant Buddha Statue’s Travel Through the Country. (Hey, it was 1934. Great movie titles had a way to go.) 

The concept was strong in the Far East — imagine the personification of a country’s deity trampling through the city and demolishing everything in its path. This was also to begin the idea of a “franchise.”

Only, nothing came as a result. 

Yesterday’s Idea. Today’s Innovation? 

Since the DC Comics partnership hasn’t gone well (yet), the production house and Legendary Pictures has gone all-in with the creation of its “Monsterverse.” And it has been celebrated by Kaiju lovers and movie aficionados everywhere. 

(And yes, the Pacific Rim franchise certainly qualifies in this genre, adding to the intrigue about what the development of this angle could mean to summer blockbusters.)

From Godzilla’s reboot (again) to Kong: Skull Island, America has regained its appetite for the Kaiju. So, while we prepare for what will be the biggest action movie of next summer outside of that Thanos dude in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, we learn about Japan unearthing the progeny of Kaiju… a statue?!

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Hey, it’s good theater over there. It was even crowdsourced (a little). So, to wax poetic, when you are watching the next iteration of today’s monsterverse, shout out “Oh BUDDHA” during the good parts. 

You know, for old times sake. 

Should ‘Suicide Squad’ Just Kill Itself Under James Gunn?

Once ostracized and unemployed, award-winning writer and director of Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and James Gunn was on Indeed and LinkedIn a few weeks back. His resume was updated. His contacts were looking for gigs. You know, at Home Depot, IHOP, and maybe the local grocery store.

Then, his phone rang.

It was Warner Brothers and DC Comics who just happened to be looking for a director for its financially successful but beleaguered critically franchise, Suicide Squad. He’s a man of mystery. A man of intrigue. And a man of sequels.

Gunn was slated to write and direct GOTG 3, and then all those tweets came up into question, so Gunn lost his gig for Disney’s substantiated fear of a PR slam.  And faster than Will Smith’s character can pull a trigger, Gunn (what a pun there) has a shot (oh look, another) at both a career comeback and making a serious difference for DC.

Should it be a sequel or a reboot?

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Despite all of DC and WB’s foibles with marketing and force-feeding us a new franchise, would it surprise you that Suicide Squad was the number 22 most-profitable CBM of all time ($746 million)? It also had the number 11 highest-grossing opening weekend at $267 million for any comic book movie.

Financially, this movie was a success on every level. Critically, this was a fart-and-fall-down moment because it goes back to the one thing Warner Brothers have proved they can’t do — introduce anyone properly outside of the DC “trinity” of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. 

So, you see, sequel or reboot — it doesn’t matter until that doltish duo figures out how to tell a story.

The average cinephile or comic book nerd could introduce those three. Sure, it would not have quite the flair Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder, and Patty Jenkins showcased in their movies, but c’mon… it’s them.

But even the executives at Warner Bros. understand the potential Suicide Squad has to provide moviegoers ample reasons to come back to the theater over-and-over again. Look at the characters. Look at those back stories. There’s no reason why that movie didn’t do better than it did. The movie made its money, but then soon became forgettable, which is a solid trend in DC / WB movies they hope to break with Aquaman.

QUICK MEMO: They will.

 

What James Gunn Brings to the Squad

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Gunn is acclaimed for his directing chops. What he was able to do with the ensemble cast of Guardians of the Galaxy is nothing short of magical. Every star got a piece of that red-hot spotlight. The story was complete from every vantage point. This is stuff only the greats–Spielberg, Scorsese, Kubrick, Coppola, Tarantino–are able to do.

And why is Gunn able to do it? He writes what he directs. 

The Wrap was first to share that Gunn will do both for Suicide Squad 2. And it makes sense. Gunn understands the nuances of what he wrote. He knows the hidden gems (and easter eggs) of the story as it unfolds. Who better to direct the people who are telling that story?!

That leads us to the money quote from io9:

Gunn is reportedly taking a totally new approach to the property so this isn’t exactly a sequel to David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.

Does a new take scream sequel with new characters? Should we infer that demands reboot? It’s all subjective but back to the point, DC and WB have not been able to tell stories of anyone outside of their Big 3.

James Gunn, awful, tone-deaf proclivities aside, can tell a story. He got us all interested and engaged with what seemed to be a throwaway comic book. And now, GOTG and GOTG2 is the No. 16 and 11 most profitable comic book movies of all time at $333M and $389M respectively.

Of course, Suicide Squad (which could be considered the GOTG’s counterpart) is No. 18 at $325M but no one talks about that success. People just lump that movie on the stinking heap of CBM failures with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Catwoman, Elektra, and Hulk. It’s not fair to David Ayer’s work, but what is fair is that DC and WB needs to learn stand on its own without a cape and cowl, magic lasso, or kryptonite.

They can’t. They have proven they don’t know how. 

So…make better hires. Do like all great CEOs — surround yourself with people smarter than you. That started with the guy in charge of Atlantis. James Wan may push open that door of opportunity. If so, James Gunn has no excuse but to run straight through that thing and show us what Marvel and Disney secretly hated firing him in the first place.

The Squad has countless stories to tell — nothing but the government sending out this team of anti-heroic misfits on suicide missions. It’s like Law & Order with powers.

jared_leto_joker_movieWith Gunn at the helm, there’s no way this can be screwed up and we may get forgotten stories for supreme characters like Count Vertigo, Nightshade, Ravan, Poison Ivy, and the entire story arc behind Rick Flag.

And then, we begin to imagine and learn what could Gunn possibly do with Deadshot, Harley, and that green-haired dude with Mr. T jewelry?

Fitting for those two companies, isnt it? Just like the original, James Gunn could be for DC and WB the: worst. hero. ever. 

The DCEU Could Be Making a Comeback for the Ages, But Can They?

Most movie goers and comic book fans expect the DC Extended Universe to fail, let’s admit it.

Lately, the DCEU has been under a lot of scrutiny and it all began with the lackluster start to this cinematic universe. Today, I think it’s safe to say the general consensus is that you either love or hate the DCEU.

Me? I’m on the fence. I see both sides of the spectrum — the tragedy and horror, the expectations and the imagination. The DCEU is under a lot of pressure at the moment, which means there’s drama escalating everyday behind the scenes of the DCEU.

If you are DC fan, you know this but I’m here to say to you. The DC Extended Universe isn’t done yet. If Warner Bros. play their cards right, they can pull off a comeback for the ages.

Be Patient

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Patience is everything in film making. And that is what the DCEU needs most right now. Making a cinematic universe is tough and many studios have tried to get a crack at it…and failed.

The DCEU needs to resist the temptation to start rushing and pumping out films. Unlike Marvel, DC has the rights to all of their comic book characters. So, in that case, they are very lucky. The DCEU has a ton of characters to use in future films or TV shows. That is a ton of reasons to make a glorious comeback.

The big challenge that DC Films have never figured out is understanding what they want to be as a brand. They need to stop trying to be like Marvel. You don’t need to make everything light-hearted and fun. They tried to do that in Justice League but failed miserably. DC needs to realize that copying Marvel isn’t going to work with that strategy because it’s not their content.

I’m a huge fan of DC comics myself but not so much a fan of the DCEU films.

They all have problems with character, pacing, world-building, plot development, and directing. These films have not impressed me in any way. It is finally time the DCEU stop putting out meme goldmines and start putting out hit films.

Is that possible? 

Finding an Identity

jokers-true-identity-1Before the DCEU starts planning new films they first need to do this… stop with the “Zack Snyder” genre and wait to see how the Aquaman and Shazam movies resonate with fans under the eye of new directors. If people turn out for those, and share the praise, make the future of the DCEU films fit the same tone of those movies.

These next movies must feel coherent and create a new identity because, at the moment, DCEU films don’t have one. They all feel like different films not connected or consistent with a cinematic universe. 

One major area where the DCEU went wrong was having a director and a comic book writer with so much say and involvement into the plans of a multi-billion dollar franchise. He is beloved, no doubt. But let’s be honest: Zack Snyder was given freedom to shape his vision of the DCEU. Some enjoyed Snyder’s view. Others hated it. Now, it’s time to move on. 

Warner Bros. is a multimillion-dollar company. They have tons of resources. They can get their hands on some of the best actors and producers in Hollywood instead of reaching for retreads. Recently, Warner Bros hired James Gunn to direct Suicide Squad 2. That proves the point against the studio. The DCEU need to continue its recent hiring spree on new producers, scriptwriters, and directors for a fresh take. 

If the DCEU wants to make a comeback, they need to first clean the past. Whatever is going on right now with the DCEU obviously isn’t working, Warner Bros. needs to start fresh and find their new leaders.

Don’t make a Part 2 of Justice League until they made at least three good stand-alone movies. By “good” I mean, movies that do well critically and commercially. The DCEU needs to set up Justice League, so the sequel can feel earned.

I’m a firm believer that the DCEU isn’t screwed just yet.

If Warner Bros plays their cards right in the future, they can actually pull this off. I see a lot of potential in the DCEU. That said, I think it’s time for everyone to see it now.

 

 

‘Aquaman’ is Going Deep with Two Credits Scenes and Fandom

It’s been said a few times already, but DC and WB realizes how much is riding on this little underwater utopia. They hired the perfect guy to direct Aquaman.

The marketing team is following the Conjuring campaign — no leaks, no freaks, no sneaks. Everything is under control. Now, James Wan has been known to whet the appetite of his fans, so he gave the world a five-effin-minute trailer and shared the film will be 143 minutes.

(And with all that time and water, bring a water bottle. You know what I’m sayin’.) 

Learn from the Past

Doesn’t that picture just trample on your heart a little? Man of Steel was great but didn’t have one. Batman V. Superman was really good (even better, depending who you ask) and it didn’t have one. Then Justice League came out, pissed the bed, but it had two. 

We’re talking post-credit scenes. The two movies that should have begun the DCEU experience let fans down completely. Then, the movie that let us down more than a Klansman mixing his sheets with the wife’s red dress added two scenes. Only, one problem — there is absolutely no delivery. 

Fans have their hopes up seeing the possibility of Flashpoint and the Legion of Doom annnnnnd… WB took a big dump on our dreams there. So, surely Aquaman has to both drop a post-credit scene but give fans a path to a movie in the future. A pay-off. 

And don’t you know James Wan paid attention to that as well! According to reports, we have even more faith in the doltish duo because they are committed to allowing the horror ingenue be himself. 

The Payoff from Atlantis

Rerelease News got the jump on this precious information — James Wan is giving us both a post-credit and a mid-credit scene. No spoilers here (because that would suck) but the rumor is that the scenes are delivering us to an open door that will give us more of this guy — Black Manta

From our sources, we can confirm that Warner Bros’ next DC film, Aquaman, which will splash into cinemas on December 21st, will currently include a post credits scene featuring Randall Park’s Dr. Stephen Shin and Yahya Abdul Mateen II’s Black Manta and setting up Black Manta for a larger villainous role in potential Aquaman sequels,” the site said.

Why is this good news? Because DC and WB can deliver on that promise. James Wan is going nowhere. There will be sequels to this film. And we can sit back and enjoy the resurrection of this beleaguered franchise. If Manta gets a post-cred scene, stay to the end and applaud that! 

Who knows what’s in the mid-cred scene, but if this news is any indication, we could be in for a huge surprise. And Santa, if you’re listening, if Manta is caught interrupting the credits to have a spirited chat with Lex Luthor and Deathstroke, I just may believe in you again. 

#Blessed 

Frank Underwood is Dead and Buried so Go Visit his Grave for Tourism

It’s not a spoiler alert because it was all over the news and House of Cards trailers but Frank Underwood is dead. He had to go because Kevin Spacey was unceremoniously kicked off the gripping Netflix series in lieu of multiple, troubling accusations of harsh sexual harassment.

Ergo, goodbye Frank. Hello, Claire.

The sixth and final season of House of Cards was going to be all Robin Wright, and why not? She deserved to have a more featured role in the Beau Willimon-led production. In what is arguably one of the most bingable series (it’s a word) Netflix has to offer, this season had to play out in convincing fashion.

You could say, it had a lasting effect. And there is physical proof — Frank’s gravesite is real!

According to THR, “Netflix erected a headstone bearing the Francis J. Underwood name at a cemetery in Gaffney, South Carolina, the hometown of the fictional character of the political saga.”

How’s that for taking advantage of tourism dollars?

Seattle has Bruce Lee. Elmira, New York has Mark Twain. Los Angeles has Marilyn Monroe. We all know who is — or is not, pending conspiracy theorists — in rest at Graceland. And now, Gaffney, South Carolina has both Frank and Calvin Underwood.

Oakland Cemetery was selected as the final resting place for Frank by Netflix ahead of the final season, according to the town’s newspaper The Gaffney Ledger. The paper also ran an obituary for the show’s 46th president that read, in part: “He will be remembered as a lifelong patriot who would stop at nothing to serve his country.”

Gaffney’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is taking full advantage of it too.

 

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Remember in Season Three when Frank peed on his father’s grave? Gaffney police better get ready to write up those public intoxication tickets. Remember what happened to the pizza on the roof of Breaking Bad’s house?

Yeah. Fans be trippin’.

 

Jessica Henwick Leaves a Dragon for a Nuclear Dinosaur

If you’re like me, you’re still a little butt-hurt that Marvel teased us all with a much-improved Iron Fist 2 and then dropped it like it’s not-so-hot.

All those unanswered questions. All that potential. Gone but maybe not forgotten if Disney Plus listens to the fans and delivers ‘Heroes for Hire.’

Anywho, one of the stars who acted as the duct tape on that show was Jessica Henwick. Her action-packed introduction of Colleen Wing was a memorable one in an otherwise forgettable Season One. And believe me, if any nerd had a girl that looked like that — and fought like that — they would give up ‘Magic’ board game nights (in cosplay) for a chick-flick any day!

But Marvel and Netflix forced her out of a job because they sucked a little. Good thing her agent had Adam Wingard on speed dial. You see, he is directing the titanic-sized culmination of the monsterverse Godzilla vs. Kong

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Variety reports Henwick will join a growing ensemble cast of Millie Bobby Brown, the great Kyle Chandler and Ziyi Zhang of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame. All three will return from the monumental Godzilla: King of the Monsters. 

New to the gaggle of Gojira will be Alexander Skarsgård (one of the “new” Baldwin brothers of Hollywood), Julian Dennison (Firefist in Deadpool 2), Brian Tyree Henry (Spider Man: Into the Spiderverse) , and even a rumored Demián Bichir from FX’s canceled The Bridge (go binge Season 1 of this).

For a while, Fantastic Four was the ‘Godzilla of fantasy reboots.’ Or Hulk.

Ever since Toho brought us the big green lizard in 1954, many American adaptions have tried and come short of what we expect out of this monster. And so much potential with Mothra, Hedorah, Gigan, Mechagodzilla, and Ghidorah.

gojira1Yet, when Matthew Broderick faced him from a scholarly perspective, monster lovers everywhere pretty much gave up.

It took 16 years for Gareth Edwards, a master of scale in shots (see: Rogue One), to make Godzilla the believable beast we all longed to see.

This was the inception of the monsterverse because we all try to forget the Jack Black/Naomi Watts version of King Kong. The third installment in this group has already delivered what must be the trailer of the year. Imagine how good this movie will be, and Henwick’s place in it.

Godzilla vs. Kong is slated for May 31, 2020. But first, that trailer for King of the Monsters because it’s just that great. Turn up the volume!

Why I Believe Everyone is Wrong About ‘Black Panther’

Black Panther has received a ton of praise for close to an entire year. When this movie released in theaters everyone — and I mean EVERYONE — rushed to his or her nearest theater to see it. Everyone told me they loved it and some people go out on a limb and claim  Black Panther is “one of the best comic book movies of all time.”

People are watching this movie with pride. So are the production types with more than $1.35 billion dollars in worldwide box office. Today, it’s also rated a 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s certified fresh and higher than films like The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 2, Avengers, and Logan … but we aren’t going to talk about that right now. Everyone I know has seen this movie and adores it. People laud it for days.

And, well, I’m here to say I totally disagree.

I’m probably one of the few people anywhere who doesn’t like this movie, and I really don’t know why. To be honest, I don’t know what people see in this film at all. Black Panther is a very flawed film.

Now that I have your attention…

My Positives

Now before I get into all my negatives about the film, I’m going to start by laying out my positives and things I enjoyed in the film. I really loved Killmonger and he’s without a doubt one of the best MCU villains ever.

His character is well-fleshed out and his motivation makes sense. All of his scenes have emotion and they go for some of the best scenes in the movie. Also, Killmonger has one of the best villain introductions in the entire MCU.

Another thing I love about Killmonger’s character is also the dynamic between Eric Killmonger and T’Challa. It is well written and feels serious with emotional weight. You understand both of these characters and their backgrounds. I love when films have the antagonist and the protagonist share a link between them because it feels more serious and the stakes are higher. 

Every encounter between these two characters feels real, which holds a ton of weight to the story. You care and feel for both of these characters. When a movie gets you to agree with the villain, you know you have a very empowering antagonist on your hands.

And that’s what Black Panther does well, it gives one of the best villain performances in comic book movie history. Throughout the whole film, I found myself agreeing with Killmonger’s ideas and his plans. Killmonger is an incredible villain, undeniably a top 5 MCU villain.

black_panther_tearjerkerAlso, I would like to point out that the scene (SPOILER ALERT) when Killmonger dies in the end is so iconic and groundbreaking.

Just view this scene from the music, the acting, dialogue, Michael B. Jordan’s lines, and the scenery. Also, the score throughout this film is strangely very good. The soundtrack throughout this whole film is outstanding.

Another thing I liked in this movie, was the depiction of Wakanda. They portrayed Wakanda perfectly to truly reflect the Wakanda in the comics. It’s beautiful and the shots of Wakanda in the movie are visually astounding. The flashback moments look great and create some well-written dialogue between the characters. Other than those, that’s all the things I liked in the film.

I’m sorry, but I really didn’t enjoy this film, here’s why I really don’t like Black Panther at all:

The Negatives

T’Challa was less interesting by a mile

Remember in Civil War when Black Panther showed up and arguably had one of the best character intros in the MCU? After Civil War, I was so invested in the character and looked forward to his future as a very compelling and interesting character. But in this film, Marvel threw that all down the drain.

In Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa had revenge on his mind and was much more of an entertaining character. But in Black Panther, they didn’t really give him any direction at all, T’Challa is very dull and boring in this film. Throughout the whole movie, he’s learning to be king and it leads to his character being less interesting and sometimes boring to me.

In Civil War, his character revolves around the idea of revenge. But in Black Panther, it’s just him figuring out to be king and it’s so less interesting. Also, T’Challa and Nakia feel so disconnected. They don’t mesh well. This film should have just pictured T’Challa’s motivations about his mom and his sister. It would have been an outstanding narrative about how important family is.  

In Civil War, T’Challa was an intelligent character. In Black Panther, he just seems to make mistake-after-mistake and it comes off as him being unorganized and a bad king. I understand what the film is trying to do. It’s trying to make him make a lot of mistakes and learn from them. Kind of like what Marvel did with Peter Parker and Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

But in this film, it just doesn’t work. It takes all the way up until the end of the film for T’Challa to learn how to be a good king. And that’s the end of the film. The character of T’Challa was written tremendously less interesting in Black Panther, and it’s a shame because it happens to be his solo film.

 

Terrible Pacing

Pacing… my god, where do I start? The pacing in this film is terrible. This movie is filled with so many long, dragged-out, boring scenes with two or more characters having a conversation. And nine times out of 10, what they are talking about has nothing to do with the plot or the film. The long and sluggishly paced scenes of people just standing around Wakanda talking. It’s a nice day outside, so let’s talk about life in Wakanda. 

The dialogue just comes off flat and so uninteresting to watch. The chemistry between these characters are so off and they don’t interact well on screen. This movie is incredibly boring, whenever a film tends to get slow or boring — that’s when you know the pacing is bad. Pacing is very important in filmmaking. If your film tends to have bad pacing, it’s not a good thing and it takes the audience out the movie.

Pacing differentiates great films from bad films, the pacing in this film is just so frustratingly bad. The movie is very strangely paced and most of the film doesn’t drive or push the plot. Marvel used to have this problem a lot in the past and I thought they were outgrowing and overcoming it.

 

Killing Killmonger off

black panther

Killmonger was too good to kill off. To be honest. Killmomger should not have been killed. He was the best part of the film and should have been what Loki is to Thor, but for T’Challa. The rivalry should have been prolonged. And hey, you never know he could have appeared in future Black Panther films and other MCU properties. They could have used him for so many future storylines.

Normally, I would be on board with this choice but Killmonger was too good of a villain to die. I get why they would kill Killmonger, but in this film, it doesn’t work. I think it isn’t fair that other terrible MCU villains stay alive and are given so much screen time. While Killmonger on the other (One of the best MCU villains) dies after his movie premiere.

Killmonger was an astonishing villain and blew me away. It hurts me to know what we will never see him in the future. What a waste of potential.

 

They did Klaw dirty

Remember in Avengers: Age Of Ultron when Klaw was first introduced? Many people were very excited about what’s to come and his link with Wakanda. Many comic books fans like me remember Klaw from the comics. Ulysses Klaw is actually a pretty cool character and if you read some of the Black Panther comics with him in it you would know that. Klaw has been a character around for a long time, making his debut in 1966 in Fantastic Four #56.

The MCU first teased him in Age of Ultron, in a very cool scene where he interacts with Ultron himself. To build him up and to give him this ending? Come on now. Are you serious?! He was honestly one of my favorites parts of Black Panther and I loved him in Age of Ultron. I don’t understand why they would just introduce his character and build him up, to just kill him off in the next film. It just doesn’t make sense to me and I hope he gets resurrected in a future film.

 

Atrocious CGI

black panther cgi

Now I’m not one to judge or pick on CGI a lot. I care about CGI but I won’t complain about it unless it’s bad. I understand CGI will look bad at times and that it can be a hard process to do for most studios. In this movie, the CGI is just painfully awful. I don’t understand how a movie with so much money to produce has such bad CGI. There’s just no reason for this film to have such dreadful CGI. It was so bad that it takes the movie watcher out of the scenes completely.

The last battle between Killmonger and Black Panther had some of the worst CGI I have ever seen in a comic book movie. It looks like a PlayStation 2 video game. Bad CGI is a visual issue in a film. If your film doesn’t visually look good, then it’s not enjoyable to watch. When your movie isn’t enjoyable to watch that’s a bad thing. The CGI for most scenes in this film genuinely take me out of the scene. Just about every scene. 

 

Inconsistency with Wakadan traditions

So, this is a small thing but are the Wakandans going to stick to their traditions or not? W’Kabi decided to attack even though T’Challa was still alive. The king of Wakanda’s family opting to go to M’Baku to overthrow Killmonger, even though he won the throne fairly. Throughout the whole film, the ideals of Wakanda change and they never stay consistent with the film. This is a small thing but the small things add up in this film, which all lead to this (unpopular) opinion. 

And finally, how did Killmonger get to Wakanda?

This is very nitpicky but I don’t care. In the film, Klaw was the only one was who has been to Wakanda and escaped. Makes sense so far. So, Killmonger murders him in a shootout without finding out how to get to Wakanda. Ten seconds later in the film, he shows up to Wakanda…how?!  

Look, I can sit here and nitpick all day about Black Panther. But they are so much stuff and little pieces that bog down this film and make it unenjoyable for me. The little things add up.

I just don’t seem to understand why this movie got the attention it received. Is it just me or do I see a flawed film filled with many wasted potentials? I don’t get how people love this film so much and make it out to be something more than what it is. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way about Black Panther. In my opinion, Black Panther is a very flawed film with a talented director and some good supporting actors.

This film could have been something so much better, but instead, it plays it safe. Black Panther is a very overrated film with some great scenes but it’s bogged down by terrible pacing, bad CGI, plot holes, flat/dry dialogue, and a dull Black Panther interpretation.

 

My Rating: 50%, waste of potential

A-LIST | Stan Lee’s Top 10 Best Cameos

Excelsior! 

This is a Latin term that has been the top trend on Google for several hours, for many reasons. Many like-minded nerds weren’t aware this was a word, much less a popular moniker of achievement. Others knew to whom this phrase of encouragement and motivation belonged, but were uncertain what it meant.

For decades, many believed it meant Ever upward. It was on the state of New York’s seal so everyone listened. While the more popular saying is a loose translation, it’s not literal.

Take it from a guy who studied a language no one uses except role players in ‘Julius Caesar’. The literal meaning is from the late 18th century (as an exclamation): from Latin, comparative of excelsus, from ex- ‘out, beyond’ + celsus ‘lofty.’

Let that sink in a little: Beyond lofty. 

That is the one thing a blossoming New Yorker born during the Depression would become. His meager beginnings forced him to take side jobs, one being as a part-time gofer — a grunt who just wanted to be in the company of others — for Timely Publications.

This is how he met two other young men named Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Both had some propensity to draw and tell stories, and would later create (with this new kid) some red, white, and blue swole warrior named Captain America. Before he could do that, he chose to serve America in the U.S. Army and enlisted in World War II.

He often made appearances in the right places — war, a fledgling comic company, in the right place at the absolute right time. Those cameos became his calling card. For the man who would become known as Stan “The Man” Lee, ever upward was his direction but beyond lofty was his destination.

And as we all mourn his loss and cherish his impact, we can celebrate all those times Stan showed up where you least expected him.

Here are Stan Lee’s Top 10 Cameos Ever.

10. Spider Man: Homecoming

Do you remember watching this? By now, we knew it was coming but didn’t know how or when. And when happened, we sat in awe because it was like the man was in his own backyard talking to his kinfolk on a stoop somewhere. Maybe it was because he didn’t play some anonymous trade worker, he was ‘Gary.’ His embrace of citizenship emboldened his bravery and that puffery motivated him to stop auto theft. That’s when Spidey is alerted by the car alarm and some cantakerous old fart named Gary shouts, “Don’t make me come down there, you punk.” The problem? He yelled that at the friendly neighborhood guy instead of the bad guy. Good times.

9. The Avengers

Coming from a man whose home is New York, where is his inspiration was in New York, and how most of his settings are in New York, and then he pops up on some TV B-roll playing chess quoted as exclaiming, “Superheroes in New York. Gimme a break!” Simple. Short. And silly. Exactly what we needed in a post-cred scene!

8. Fantastic Four

This is one of the easily forgotten cameos so what makes it so great? History, something Stan Lee honored every chance he had. Prior to creating Dr. Reed Richards and his quartet of cosmic faithful, he developed a bit character named Willie Lump. Close to half-a-century later, there’s Willie… delivering mail to none other than Reed Richards.

7. Avengers: Age of Ultron

Stan Lee was always a man of the people. The guy was beloved, which is why he loved “giving back” screen time in the comic book movies that beared his inspiration. But in Ultron, he may not have remembered that donation. Here, we find a military vet (again, history) flexing his stelo in the middle of a super party. He gets hammered on Asgardian brown drink and gets carried off muttering “Excelsior.”

6. Mallrats

Ever wonder why Kevin Smith is such a Marvel homer? He had a real relationship with Stan Lee. However contagious we can only imagine that would be. Did you know Stan showed up in a Kevin Smith film? And he actually talked for more than three minutes, here offering some lovelorn dude romance tips. Coming from a guy of his prestige, and he brags about here, the irony is good for a giggle.

5. Big Hero 6

Anyone see this? If I didn’t have kids, I would have missed it too. Yet, there I am, warming a seat in the theater clutching a tepid soft drink and some really bad popcorn, but the kids were happy. I got to see a kid nerd movie and then that happened. Here comes Stan Lee, as a father to someone who loves heroes. Hmmm… waxing a little nostalgic and borderline prophetic too. Fitting.

4. The Amazing Spider-Man

If you have a problem with this cameo being this high, you either only love DC or you just don’t get it. Here, we find our favorite webhead getting pushed around by a big giant lizard. As the fight squanders into a library, we find Stan listening to some wax via headphones — some really old ones. A horrendous fight is going on behind him. He almost gets clobbered by a table. And he doesn’t have a clue. You have to believe that was life for him when creating his characters. Nothing else mattered around him. Awesome.

3. Spider-Man 3

“I guess one man can make a difference. Enough said.” Yup. Don’t need to say more than that here either. Look what you did, Stan.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


Stan Lee was many things to many people, but to the Marvel Universe (not just the cinematic one), he was clearly its main “Watcher.” And in this anticipated sequel, we saw that allegory come full circle. There he is, an older astronaut swapping tales of accomplishment with his own creation — and, arguably his self-homage — to ‘The Watchers.’ Everyone believed it. Everyone loved it. Today, we honor it.

1. X-Men: Apocalypse

As we alluded to earlier, serendipity was a theme in Stan Lee’s life. He was where he needed to be to take advantage of the right situation. This is one of the most somber timing stories in Stan’s life, but given the circumstances, the story fits. In the midst of nuclear missiles being fired in the sky, we happen across Stan and his trademark shades reflecting the fumes of the missiles on its path to his doom. As the camera pans out, we see him clutching his real-life wife, Joan. Neither said a word. Joan would die less than a year later. Again, the end of the world met the end of his.

Serendipity, indeed.

Excelsior, Mr. Lee. Ever Upward and Beyond Lofty.