Category Archives: marvel

Brace Yourselves; More STAR WARS is Coming

By Tom Holste

Feb. 7, 2018

Since I blog a lot about Star Wars, I really intended for my next blog post to be about something else. But every so often, a crazy story breaks where you just have to drop all your other plans and focus on the new thing.

Yesterday, Lucasfilm astonished fans around the world by announcing that a new series of movies was on its way from David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the show runners of HBO’s immensely popular and acclaimed fantasy series Games of Thrones.

david-benioff-db-weiss

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, two of the happiest guys in the galaxy.

Why astonishing, you ask? These two writers/producers have a great track record, after all. (Indeed, Thrones has made such a cultural impact that I know the catchphrase “Brace yourselves; winter is coming” even though I haven’t seen any episodes.)

Well, it’s astonishing because one would think that Lucasfilm would wait for one trilogy to be done or at least partway through before announcing the next one. We’re not even done with the current sequel trilogy; director Rian Johnson hasn’t shot one frame of his follow-up trilogy; and now we’ve got another series of films announced beyond that. (And note that Lucasfilm does say “series of movies,” therefore not limiting it to just a trilogy.)

After the negative fallout from many fans regarding Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, one would be excused for thinking that Lucasfilm had removed Johnson from heading up the new trilogy, yet the press release clearly indicates that Benioff and Weiss’ films are completely separate from Johnson’s upcoming saga.

Even more baffling is that we still don’t have any official confirmation of the next standalone Star Wars movie. Variety announced back in August that they had heard rumblings of an Obi-Wan movie. Variety has a very good reputation for accuracy, but the “sources” that they mentioned never made an official announcement.

We were expecting to hear an announcement about Obi-Wan or whatever the next standalone film turned out to be either way, but we just got crickets chirping. And then this news — which no one was expecting — gets a straight-up confirmation on StarWars.com.

Mind you, none of this is bad, just surprising.

I am starting to wonder if the next standalone has just simply been canceled at this point. It seems like it would have made more sense to continue doing standalones in between the trilogy installments. But maybe all the production problems that Rogue One and Solo went through have caused Kathleen Kennedy (the head of Lucasfilm) to swear off any more standalones.

Of course, as with anything, one can see potential issues, which are not the same as real concrete issues, just fun/interesting things to speculate about:

1) Rian Johnson is already known for turning in dark and gritty stories. Both Last Jedi and his earlier film Looper fit that bill. I presume his new trilogy will be more of the same. Does it make sense to hire another creative team also known for making dark and gritty stories? It seems like it would make sense to do a different movie (or series of movies) with a lighter, more crowd-pleasing tone, since a lot of people associate that with Star Wars more than the darker stuff.

It’s possible that the GoT producers want to break from tradition and not be pigeonholed, deliberately choosing to do something lighter. But I assume part of the reason why Lucasfilm hired them in the first place is so they could basically market the movies as “Star Wars done Game of Thrones-style,” which should pack people in the theater.

2) On that same note, I initially assumed that Benioff and Weiss understood that Star Wars is more family-friendly than GoT. But considering the fact that Marvel has done some TV-MA stuff with the Marvel brand (albeit only on Netflix), a few people I’ve talked to have expressed concern that these producers were brought on board specifically to bring R-rated content to Star Wars, which I certainly hope is not the case.

3) StarWars.com cites Benioff and Weiss as the creators of Game of Thrones. While it’s true that they developed the TV series, the actual creator of GoT is, of course, author R. R. Martin, who wrote the books on which the series is based. Benioff and Weiss have shown that they know how to adapt a story in a way that makes the fans happy, but this wouldn’t be adaptation, it would be creating something new (although admittedly playing within a very well established fictional universe). I wonder how much difference that’s going to make in the final product.

4) If they had been hired as the showrunners of the upcoming live-action TV series coming to Disney’s new streaming platform, that would be less surprising to me. But apparently these movies are going to exist in addition to Johnson’s movies, plus a live-action TV show on Disney’s streaming service, and another animated TV series following Rebels.

In fact, the same day as yesterday’s announcement, Disney also announced that they have several TV shows currently in development.

Star-Wars-All-Films

Hold on to something — we’re just getting started. (Source: Reddit)

As an old-school fan who’s used to having to wait three years between installments and then decades between trilogies, I am a little concerned about viewer burnout. This feels like the Avengers effect: Because Marvel has been so successful at having multiple movies and TV shows on all at once, every other franchise feels like they have to do the same thing. But Star Wars is special, and I’m concerned that this abundance of media will make it less special. (To be fair, though, it used to feel like there weren’t enough Star Wars movies, and that certainly won’t be a problem now.)

I do think / hope Disney means that they’re developing multiple ideas and trying to figure out which one they want to take all the way to the finish line, rather than saying we’ll have 20 Star Wars shows on the air at the same time.

I must again heavily emphasize that these things pique my curiosity, but I’m not an angry raging fanboy about them. In the world of fandom, there’s probably nothing bigger than Game of Thrones right now, so Lucasfilm has really gone all out and gotten the top people to work on these new movies. Metaphorically speaking, I just got told that Michael Jordan got hired for my favorite basketball team. That’s a good thing, and I want to show a proper level of gratitude for that.

My concerns are small, and hopefully none of them will be realized. I plan to keep an open mind. These are just my initial thoughts.

Finally, there have been many Tweets weighing in on the news, but this one was by far the funniest: (SPOILERS for The Last Jedi ahead!)

 

Blake Schultz‏ 
@AsAlwaysBlake

What are the Game of Thrones writers going to bring to Star Wars?  The siblings already kissed, and the beloved characters are dead…. #starwars #GameOfThrones

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Disney Out-Foxes Its Competition

By Tom Holste

Dec. 14, 2017

Last week, I reported on the potential merger between the Walt Disney Company and 20th Century Fox. As of today, via their website, Disney has announced that the merger is officially happening.

Some of the terms of the deal are even weirder than initially expected: Disney will own FX Networks but not the Fox Network. Disney will own both ESPN and Fox Sports. Fox will own a controlling interest in Hulu, but are already planning on launching a streaming service to compete with Netflix in 2019.

According to some of the reports I read, this deal is bigger than any of Disney’s previous acquisitions combined (for Pixar, Lucasfilm, the Muppets, and Marvel). Disney will now own about a third of the entire entertainment industry.

Fox-Disney-700x300

The Fox Fanfare is now as much a Disney song as “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” (Image source: Slashfilm)

Many questions still remain, the biggest one in my mind still being: If Fox Networks will continue to function independently, who gets to own the logo? Will one of them be forced to change their name?

If Disney gets to use the Fox logo, then I can see them using that brand for their R-rated releases, such as the Alien and Die Hard movies. If Fox Networks keeps the logo, I expect that Disney will revive its nearly defunct Touchstone Pictures. Lately, Touchstone has been a shell of its former self, only existing to distribute DreamWorks live-action movies (and DreamWorks is moving over to Universal). But if Fox keeps the logo, I expect Touchstone will release the Alien movies and so forth.

Other weird aspects of this deal:

–Universal Studios, Disney’s chief competitor in the theme park arena, recently opened a Simpsons area of the park. They’ll now be licensing those characters from Disney. Since Disney also owns the Marvel characters, which are in Universal due to a prior licensing arrangement, Disney will now own about half of the characters in the Universal park.

–Disney will own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly (although those will also probably be distributed under the Fox logo or Touchstone, as mentioned above). Expect their long-running comics at Dark Horse to end, and for new series to start up at Marvel. The same thing happened to Star Wars.

–Disney will own all of Fox’s animated movies, including the Ice Age films. Expect those characters to show up in the parks soon. Anastasia will also technically become a Disney princess, although whether that will just be a humorous footnote or something we’ll actually see in the parks remains a question.

There are good aspects to this deal. (And not everything mentioned above was bad, just sort of weird.) Kevin Feige’s track record with producing excellent Marvel movies is unparalleled. I expect the upcoming X-Men movies to be amazing. And we’ll probably finally get a good Fantastic Four movie for once.

Anyway, one source I read said it would take a year for the deal to finalize, and the current Fox movies in production (Deadpool 2, X-Men: Dark Phoenix) will probably reach completion before the big reboot. It’ll be fascinating to sit back and watch what happens in the coming years with possibly the biggest entertainment merger in history.

9 Problems with Disney Buying Fox

By Tom Holste

Dec. 7, 2017

Fans everywhere have been celebrating the news that the Walt Disney Company is in the final stages of purchasing the entertainment division of 20th Century Fox (not the news or sports divisions).

Currently, Fox still holds rights over some Marvel characters, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. This purchase would allow Disney-owned Marvel to bring those characters into the Avengers-related movies, known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU for short). This purchase would also allow Disney to own the few bits of Star Wars not currently covered through their purchase of Lucasfilm.

Disney-Fox

This is one of many things eerily predicted by THE SIMPSONS.

Everywhere I look, fans are cheering: “Wooo! X-Men in the MCU!” But has anyone thought of some of the other ramifications of such a purchase?

  • FEWER MOVIES, NOT MORE

Fans seem to think that if Disney buys Fox, there will be just as many X-Men and MCU movies as there are right now, the only difference being that they’re interconnected. I think it’s much more likely that Disney will put out the same number of films they currently do, meaning that we’re about to get half the amount of movies that we currently get from each studio.

  • FORGET THE MINOR CHARACTERS

Part of what’s so great about the MCU is that Marvel took the time to develop second- and third-tier characters into awesome franchises. Iron Man and Captain America are A-level characters now, but do you think Marvel would have bothered with those characters if the company had the rights to Spider-Man and X-Men in the first place? I can’t see Marvel developing characters like Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy when they can just crank out three X-Men movies a year.

  • MOVIES LIKE DEADPOOL AND LOGAN MIGHT GO AWAY

Many of the fans cheering the idea of the X-Men joining the MCU are the same people who lobbied Fox to release edgier, R-rated superhero fare like Logan and Deadpool — movies that would never get made under the Disney regime. That actually doesn’t bother me personally, since I prefer the more family-friendly stuff already. But do fans who petitioned for those other films realize what they’re getting into?

  • RECASTS ALL AROUND

Because Hugh Jackman (who plays Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine) has said in interviews that he’d love being part of the MCU, many fans think that this will finally be his chance. But when Marvel finally brought Spider-Man into the MCU, one of the first things they did was recast Peter Parker, even though it felt like Andrew Garfield had just started his run as the character. Plus, Jackman got to go out on top with the acclaimed Logan. How many actors can say that? Maybe it’s best to let sleeping wolverines lie.

  • REBOOT!

On the same note, Marvel started with a fresh continuity with Spider-Man even though there had only been two previous films since the last reboot. Does anyone think Marvel is going to expect people to watch nearly 20 years’ worth of X-Men films before watching their debut in the MCU? I can pretty much guarantee you that Disney is going to start with a clean slate (much like how they wiped out all the Star Wars comics and novels prior to their purchase of Lucasfilm).

Logan

Not coming soon to THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY.

  • CANCELLATIONS

When Disney bought Marvel, they canceled fan-favorite animated TV shows The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Spectacular Spider-Man and replaced them with their own series. When Disney bought Lucasfilm, they canceled the Clone Wars cartoon and replaced it with Rebels. Two of the most acclaimed live-action shows on the air right now are Fox’s Legion and The Gifted, both of which are X-Men spinoffs. If Disney buys Fox, how much do you want to bet their days are numbered?

  • MISMATCHED PROPERTIES

People forget that this purchase isn’t just for Star Wars and Marvel. If the sale goes through, Disney gets all of Fox’s assets: the Alien movies, Die Hard, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and tons of other stuff that’s tonally a complete mismatch with the Mouse House. Will they make these franchises more family-friendly, or will they make Disney synonymous with some very non-Disney stuff? Either decision will probably tick a lot of people off.

  • TOSSED ASIDE

Disney has a habit of largely ignoring their lesser assets: the Muppets, Winnie the Pooh, Inspector Gadget (when they owned DiC), the Fox Family TV library, etc. Why bother building up struggling brands when they can just re-release Pinocchio for the 300th time in a Super Deluxe Diamond Anniversary Super Unleaded Edition – and make a lot more money doing it? Expect a lot of Fox’s programming to just get tossed into the attic and forgotten about if this sale goes through. Even Disney doesn’t seem to see anything but X-Men and Star Wars in this purchase.

the-tick-animated-series

Yes, Disney would technically own the hilarious animated series THE TICK. But don’t expect them to actually do anything about it.

  • DISNEY OWNS EVERYTHING

Why is no one talking about antitrust issues? Disney doesn’t have an entertainment monopoly yet, but the industry is getting frighteningly close to an oligopoly, where just a few people own everything. Doesn’t that make anyone else nervous about the lack of opportunities for independent artists and alternative voices if there are three big monolithic companies owning everything we watch and hear? No? Just me? Okay, then.

So there are my reasons.  I honestly hope I’m wrong. And actually, I overall really like Disney. But to quote some of my favorite Star Wars characters: I have a bad feeling about this.

 

 

Mickey Mouse to Leave Netflix

By Tom Holste

Aug. 9, 2017

This news story has been making the rounds on Facebook, and I thought it might be interesting for discussion here.

https://www.gamespot.com/articles/disney-to-pull-its-movies-from-netflix-including-s/1100-6452383/?ftag=GSS-05-10aab8d&utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A+Trending+Content&utm_content=598a81bd3ed3f00007aca3d8&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=facebook

This comes just a year after Disney’s content went exclusively to Netflix for the foreseeable future. Apparently, that deal will end in 2019.

I, for one, am getting really tired of every entertainment company pulling out of Netflix to start their own service, or in some cases, multiple services. Warner Bros. has put all their classic cartoons (including Hanna-Barbera and MGM content) on the Boomerang app, and they intend to release another app for all their DC Comics content. And if one wants to watch Doctor Who on streaming, one has to pay Britbox for the classic stuff and Amazon Prime for the new stuff.

Disney has already announced that they’re going to have a separate streaming service for ESPN content. If they have a separate service for animated classics, and a separate service for Marvel, and one for Lucasfilm, Pixar, etc., people are not going to go for that.

Part of what’s great about Netflix is its affordability. But studios seem to think that if we’ll pay Netflix $8 a month, we’ll be willing to pay them $40 a month for multiple different mini-Netflixes. That’s an incorrect assumption.

This strategy may drive some consumers back to physical media, which may in fact be part of the goal of the studios. Even though the rest of the planet moved on to streaming media 10-ish years ago, I’ve seen multiple doom-and-gloom articles from Hollywood experts about how the industry is doomed if consumers don’t keep buying physical media (ignoring the many decades in which the industry did just fine without that).

Nonetheless, having said all that, if enough companies do pull out of Netflix, it may become worth my while to invest our $8 a month in one of these other companies. Much of what my family watches comes from one of Disney’s many divisions; in addition to what’s mentioned above, my kids are big fans of anime from Studio Ghibli, which has been distributed by Disney for a long time. While I don’t want to jump ship — I’d rather pay Netflix a little more to have more content — there may come a point where loyalty to them doesn’t make sense.

I’d also be interested if the Disney streaming service has multiple classic versions of characters instead of just the latest version. For instance, if they have just the new DuckTales and the latest version of Spider-Man, that doesn’t seem very interesting to me. But if they have those in addition to the old DuckTales and the ’90s Spider-Man and so forth, that could be fun. I would also be excited if they would finally release all episodes of The Muppet Show. (The DVDs stopped after Season 3, leaving two seasons unreleased.) They would need to dig in their archives a bit and come up with interesting things.

Anyway, the industry continues to change and evolve, and it’s fascinating to watch the permutations.