The Return Of Hugh Jackman As Wolverine In Deadpool 3!

The news lately about Marvel Studios and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a series of downers as fans have become frustrated by delays, non-announcements and disappointing films and TV shows. However, most were elated this week when Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds announced that not only was Deadpool 3 officially being made but that it would co-star Hugh Jackman returning to his iconic role as Logan/Wolverine.

This was very exciting news considering that Hugh Jackman’s last performance as the famous X-Men hero was in 2017’s Logan and the character died in that film. At the time Logan was released, Jackman announced that he would no longer play the role, which saddened many, but led to wild speculation about who would eventually replace him. This speculation went into overdrive when Disney acquired Fox Studios and the film rights to the X-Men characters in 2019.

One thing frustrating fans of the X-Men is that although Disney and Marvel Studios has had the film rights to the X-Men and associated mutants since 2019, very little was done with the characters. Not even the recent announcements about Phase Five and Six of the MCU revealed anything hinting at the X-Men or even mutants. Sure there have been some revelations that Ms. Marvel, Namor and possibly the Scarlet Witch are mutants in the MCU, but nothing else.

What also made the recent Phase Five and Six disappointing was that Deadpool 3 was not part of the announced MCU films and TV shows even though Ryan Reynolds had been quite vocal about wanting to reprise the role and reports he was in negotiations with Marvel Studios for a possble Deadpool 3.

Well, it turns out that our patience has been rewarded, as Deadpool 3 will begin filming for a September 6, 2024 release. Of course, sweetening the announcement was Jackman’s return as Wolverine. Just the announcement of a third Deadpool film was fine enough, but this added bonus is enough to make the film one of the most anticipated films coming out that year.

As to what would the film be about and how it would fit in with the MCU is anyone’s guess at this point. Reynolds confirmed that the Wolverine that appears in Deadpool 3 would be a separate variant than the one seen in Logan. This is similar as Professor X’s (Patrick Stewart) appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness where it was fairly clear that even though Stewart played Professor X, the one seen in the film was different from the one featured in the Fox X-Men films. It is possible that Deadpool and Wolverine will appear in the Fox X-Men universe, which has conflicting continuity, and somehow crossover into the MCU. Perhaps the two will tour various universes in a loose adaptation of Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth. It is also possible that Deadpool’s time-traveling antics at the end of Deadpool 2 causes the deadly interdimensional incursions introduced in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Hopefully Deadpool 3 will actually turn out to be a superhero version of a cop/buddy film as Reynolds hinted because it would be hilarious seeing Wolverine playing a straight man to Deadpool’s zaniness.

There are questions about the Fox X-Men film universe though, namely will other characters from that film series appear? Will that film universe be destroyed in an incursion? Will Deadpool 3 serve as the swan song for the Fox X-Men film universe or will some characters become part of the MCU or take part in Avengers: Secret Wars? Deadpool himself is a definite character who will appear in that epic Avengers film. But the most important question is will Wolverine finally don a comics-accurate suit?

One thing to keep in mind is that while it is terrific that Hugh Jackman is reprising his role as Wolverine, his appearance just kicks the can down the road as to who will eventually play the character in the MCU. Not only that, but it keeps reinforcing the notion that only Jackman can play Wolverine, which will make the re-casting of the mutant superhero harder for fans to accept.

This dilemma is something to worry about for another time, and should not detract from our celebration of the news that Deadpool 3 is coming and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine will be part of the package.

Still Flying: Firefly 20 Years Later

“We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty” – Mal Reynolds

The TV junkyard is littered with dozens if not hundreds of gems that are shows that were killed off too early by dim-witted TV executives. Everyone’s got a favorite show that they loved but apparently no one else did, hence the quick cancellation. Firefly is a prime example. But unlike many of these forgotten gems, Firefly continues to shine 20 years after its debut on television.

Created by Joss Whedon, the man behind the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and of course, the first two Avengers films, Firefly premiered in the 2002 fall schedule on Fox and was quickly canceled after only fourteen episodes were filmed (fifteen if you count the original pilot episode “Serenity” as a two-part show). In fact, not even all the episodes were aired. But the show found a new life after cancellation in the world of home media. Word of mouth quickly spread and a cult following not seen since Star Trek blossomed.

For the uninitiated the show is basically a science fiction western taking place in 2517, showcasing a group of renegades and smugglers who eke out an existence on board a Firefly-class space freighter called the Serenity. This is the back story; humanity has used up Earth’s resources sometime in the future. Eventually, people abandoned Earth, traveled to another solar system and terraformed dozens of planets and moons to make them habitable. Now the original terraformed planets are the Core Planets and have the latest in technology and resources and are considered the center of the universe or ‘verse as said in the show. The outer planets in the system are known as the Border Planets or Outer Planets and don’t have access to the latest technologies. The people living there are left to fend for themselves with basic tools. In these backwater worlds, the highest level of technology is on the level of the nineteenth century with horses being the common mode of transport. This is why the show has that dusty and rustic Western look.  Basically, the show is set in an interplanetary society of haves and have nots.

In the pilot’s opening scenes, viewers witnessed a brutal battle in the civil war between the Alliance (the main governing body of the Core Planets) and the Independents, which was comprised of the Outer Planets. The Alliance won the aforementioned Battle of Serenity Valley and the war. During that battle the show introduced one of the soldiers who fought for the Independents, Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds (Nathan Fillion). According to interviews, Whedon stated that this was an allegory to the American Civil War with the main characters standing in for former Confederate soldiers.

Several years later and now a jaded cynic, Mal owns a beat-up freighter ship that he uses for smuggling operations. His crew is comprised of loyal first mate Zoë Alleyne (Gina Torres), another Independent war veteran; carefree pilot Hoban “Wash” Washburne (Alan Tudyk), who is married to Zoë and loves Hawaiian shirts, dinosaur figures and his wife; Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite), the whimsical ship’s mechanic and Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin) a greedy and not-too-bright muscle man. The rest of the cast are the passengers on board the ship for various reasons. Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin) is a beautiful and cultured prostitute who rents a small shuttle on board and is attracted to Mal and vice versa. Their unrequited romantic tension was a major sub-plot. Reverend Book (Ron Glass) is a spiritual wanderer with a mysterious past with hinted ties to the Alliance. The final two passengers provided much of Firefly’s conflict; Simon (Sean Maher) and River Tam (Summer Glau), two sibling fugitives on the run. River was a gifted student who was forced to undergo deadly experiments by the Alliance and became a deadly psychic killing machine masked under the guise of a gentle and mildly mentally challenged teenage girl. Her brother Simon, a successful rich doctor, risked everything (including his wealth) to free her from the Alliance. In the pilot, Mal decided to allow them to remain on board, provided Simon took a job as the ship’s medic, and kept an eye on her. 

Throughout the series, they faced dangers in the form of cannibalistic savages called Reavers, other smugglers, criminals, the unscrupulous upper class and the Alliance itself. The stories were usually about capers and the mishaps they would get into. They were well written with witty dialogue that had an interesting touch; the characters would often speak Mandarin. Whedon surmised that in the future both western and American culture will blend with Asian cultures and great pains are taken to show this in the series. Signs and view screens show Asian and English script, while many crowd scenes had a multicultural ambiance with people wearing outfits influenced by various cultures.

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D23 Expo 2022: A Great Disappointment For Marvel

For some time, fans expected the presentation by Marvel Studios at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) to pale when compared to this weekend’s D23 Expo 2022. The last D23 convention was jammed with exciting announcements about Marvel Studios. Being that D23 is prepared by Disney and devoted to its properties, one would think all mind-blowing announcements and presentations about Marvel Studios would be revealed at D23 after this summer’s SDCC. For weeks, the rumors have been flying fast about pending casting announcements for upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) projects. Supposedly, Deadpool 3 was to be announced with a special appearance by Ryan Reynolds; Henry Cavill, Denzel Washington, Jodie Comer, and numerous actors were to be announced as being cast for several MCU films and TV shows; the cast for the Fantastic Four would be revealed. Did any of that happen? NOPE.

There weren’t any major, new announcements, except that Matt Shankman has been officially announced as the director of the Fantastic Four film, and Armor Wars has been re-confirmed as going into production. The Marvel Studios presentation consisted of films and TV shows that we knew about. We did get some casting announcements such as Ke Huy Quan appearing in the second season of Loki, and that Tim Blake Nelson will appear in Captain America: New World Order as the Leader, With that last revelation does this mean that the Hulk will appear in Captain America: New World Order? The Leader is a Hulk villain, after all.

We did learn that a lot of footage and trailers were presented at D23 about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Echo, Loki, The Marvels, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and Ironheart. Too bad, most of us cannot see them. Based on Twitter and other social media feeds by those lucky enough to have attended the presentation, the footage sounded great, but no one else could see the footage. All we received were TWO trailers. One for Secret Invasion, which has the look of a solid spy thriller, and Werewolf By Night, a one-shot film coming next month on Disney +. It is both surprising and concerning that Werewolf By Night will stream on October 7, less than a month from now, but it is only now we are seeing any footage. Honestly, the black-and-white trailer makes Werewolf By Night look very campy while evoking the mood of an old Universal horror film and a grindhouse film. But it could be good.

Perhaps the most intriguing news coming out of the Marvel presentation was the revelation of the Thunderbolts lineup. The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), U.S. Agent (Wyatt Russell), Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), Red Guardian (David Harbour), Taskmaster (Olga Kurylenko), and Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). Basically, the lineup seems like a reunion of cast members from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Black Widow, plus a return of a villain from Ant-Man and the Wasp. So, no Abomination or Baron Zemo as everyone expected. Still, just the inclusion of the Winter Soldier is enough to get excited over the Thunderbolts.

As it can be seen, there wasn’t any announcements about other MCU projects. No news on Blade, Deadpool 3, zilch about the X-Men, not even anything on the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which is supposed to be streaming in a few short months, or Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3. Keep in mind that an exclusive trailer for that film was shown already at SDCC. They could have at least released it to the general public.

Even if Disney could not show exclusive footage to the general public for their MCU projects, at least release an image. Let us see a better look at Namor or Kang! Releasing two trailers does not cut it.

On the other hand, the Star Wars presentation was better, with its highlight being the release of the trailer for the third season of The Mandalorian. With the Star Wars presentation, not everything was shown to the general public, but at least enough was released. Even the Disney animated films presentation from yesterday was more interesting.

Blame it on our unrealistic expectations and for giving in the hype and speculation, but aside from the few thousand people who attended D23, the Marvel Studios presentation was a disappointment for everyone else. This was the first live D23 since the pandemic and the excitement was wild, Disney could have made some exciting and surprising announcements on the level of Avengers: Secret Wars at SDCC, but nothing new was revealed. Overall, the Marvel presentation was almost as disappointing as the presentation by Warner Bros. about their upcoming DC films and TV shows at SDCC. Yes, that bad.

Disney definitely dropped the ball at D23 with Marvel Studios and the MCU. Hopefully, future conventions and presentations will improve, but we should temper our expectations and be realistic.

Star Trek’s Fascination With Prequels

As we approach the 56th anniversary of Star Trek and the mammoth franchise it launched, it is a good time to reflect on where Star Trek is going. Specifically, the franchise’s fascination with prequels.

When Star Trek was at its height back in the ’90s, each new TV show featured new, original characters and situations. For the most part, the premise was basically the same: a starship and its crew exploring the unknown cosmos and meeting new aliens. This premise has continued to this day, but a common wrinkle with the franchise is to look back and dwell on characters and situations that made it so popular. Look at, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the latest Star Trek series, which won a lot of acclaim from fans and critics for its back-to-basics approach in episodic storytelling and doubling down on established characters like Christopher Pike and Spock. Meanwhile, the biggest buzz going on in Trek circles has to do with a third season of Star Trek: Picard that will reunite the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Strange New Worlds Revisited

There has been a tendency with Star Trek shows, starting with Star Trek: Enterprise in 2001 and most recently this year with Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, to serve as prequels to the original Star Trek, which took place in the mid-23rd century. Even the recent films have taken place during this time period, although those films were reboots that officially took place in an alternate universe. Some fans have an understandable disdain for prequels in general for many reasons. Prequels are forced to follow a certain continuity to line up with the original film or TV show. Also, much of the tension is gone with prequels when it comes to established characters and situations. Take the Star Wars prequels. They featured younger versions of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker before he turned to Darth Vader. Going into the films, everyone knew that Kenobi would survive the films and that Skywalker would eventually become evil. This fact robbed the films of some tension if the fate of these characters was preordained. Going back to Star Trek, with Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Star Trek: Enterprise there was some uproar over how the alien Gorn looked compared to their appearance in the original Star Trek. The real-world reason for the disparity between how the Gorn looked was due to improved budgets and special effects. The original Gorn was a stuntman in a cheap suit, and recreating that look would lead to unintentional laughter among viewers instead of fear. Still, this lack of continuity has irked some fans.

Another problem with prequels is the implication that the powers-that-be have run out of ideas. This was evident in the early episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise, which were usually tired retreads of previous Trek episodes. It was not until its later seasons did the show break free of its worn formula and embraced the potentials of prequels with episodes that neatly lined up with the original series.

If a prequel is done well, it can be an excellent way to evoke foreshadowing and to help develop characters and situations. With Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, an intriguing storyline has it that Pike knows his future, which was a grim one as shown in the original Star Trek. Throughout the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Pike internally debates if his future is set. Can he change his fate? Should he? This dilemma was the basis of one of the show’s best episodes, “A Quality of Mercy”, which explored the result of Pike altering his future. Hint for anyone who has not watched it, things do not end well for a certain other character.

Prequel Flaws

Then again, if a prequel falters or tries to be too different, it will alienate fans. Star Trek: Discovery suffered heavily in that while it was a prequel it strayed too far from established Star Trek lore. The technology and overall look of the show was too advanced when compared to the original Star Trek, though it took place about a decade before the old show. The look of the Klingons was radically different from the established look of Klingons in traditional Trek, although to be fair the look of the Klingons was wildly different from the original Star Trek and later incarnations. Again, improved budgets were the cause for the disparity. There were distinct continuity deviations, notably the fact that the show’s main character, Michael Burnham, was actually Spock’s step sister. Keep in mind, this family relationship was never hinted at in previous Trek shows and films. These deviations might have been overlooked if Star Trek: Discovery was clearly established as a reboot like the recent films or if the show was actually good. Star Trek: Discovery escaped from the storytelling limitations of prequels by having their characters flung into the far future. This was an excellent idea since the show would not be bound by continuity, but thanks to poor scripts the show has become unwatchable. Star Trek: Discovery was doomed from the start not because it was a prequel, but because of its execution.

There is not anything wrong with doing prequels or revisiting characters and situations. Doing so helps explore the many interesting facets of the Star Trek universe. Many of the most popular films and TV shows have successfully pulled this off and will continue to do so. As to whether or not upcoming shows or films will be prequels is not clear, though if one wants to accept Star Trek: Discovery as canon then given its far-future setting, any show or film set before the current episodes of Star Trek: Discovery has to be considered a prequel.

Lost Era Explored

One prequel idea that can be explored would be to set a potential show during the so-called Lost Era of Star Trek. This is the time period set between the last Star Trek film to feature the original cast, Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country and Star Trek: The Next Generation. This is a significant time gap of several decades and a show set in this Lost Era of Star Trek could answer some questions. For instance, what happened to the Enterprise-B? What were the early missions of the Enterprise-C? What was the Tomed Incident involving the Romulans? What was the political situation in the Alpha Quadrant? What was the fate of the original Enterprise crewmembers like Chekov or Uhura? The show could explore the early years of Jean-Luc Picard, Kathryn Janeway or Benjamin Sisko. Just recast the roles with younger actors. Other things that could be examined include the occupation of Bajor, Federation conflicts with the Cardassians, Tholians and other enemies, the early years of Noonien Soong, the possiblities are endless with a TV show set during the Lost Era of Star Trek. Such a show would serve as a prequel to the later shows while being a sequel to the original Star Trek. The show could adapt the novels set during this time period or be completely original just as long as the continuity lines up.

Star Trek has demonstrated throughout the years the merits and detriments of prequels. When done correctly, the Star Trek prequels are not just fascinating companion pieces to older shows, but legitimate storytelling vehicles that fully explore the rich world of Star Trek.

The Summer Of 2022: A Golden Season For Genre TV Shows

As the summer of 2022 winds down and the recent permieres of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, The House of the Dragon, and Star Trek: Lower Decks, it can be easily argued that this summer was one of the greatest time periods for genre TV shows.

Usually the summer is a wasteland when it comes to TV shows. In the old days before streaming and cable, viewers had a difficult time finding any original TV shows. The best option was watching reruns or hoping some failed TV show with limited episodes or pilot would turn up. Often the quality of these cast-offs were suspect and they were forgettable. The summer was the time to go to the movies, to travel, or to go play outside. Well that has been noticeably different in recent summers, but especially the summer of 2022. Sure, those activities are still available, but if you want to just stay home, relax and get out of the heat, there are now plenty of original, quality TV shows to watch.

Starting in May and ending this month, we’ve been treated to a rich menu of TV shows to binge and obsess over. Here is a partial list, in no order, of what the summer of 2022 had for viewers:

Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Boys, Ms. Marvel, For All Mankind, Stranger Things 4, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Westworld, Baymax!, Moonhaven, What We Do in the Shadows, American Horror Stories, Primal, Harley Quinn, Resident Alien, The Umbrella Academy, The Sandman, Paper Girls, The Orville: New Horizons, The Walking Dead, Tales of the Walking Dead, and the three most recent premieres, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Star Trek: Lower Decks and The House of the Dragon. But there are more TV shows that will be out by the end of August such as See and Stargirl. Also left off this list were TV shows that debuted earlier this year but their season concluded during the summer, which include Superman & Lois, Fear the Walking Dead, and The Flash.

As anyone can see this is quite a diverse selection of TV shows that caters to all types of tastes. Want some space fantasty? There’s Obi-Wan Kenobi or The Orville: New Horizons. Superhero fare? Choose from She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Stargirl, Ms. Marvel and so on. How about animated shows? There are plenty of choices like Star Trek: Lower Decks, Harley Quinn, Primal, Love, Death + Robots, etc. Whether its comedy or high drama, horror, sci-fi or fantasy, this summer offered them all. Even if anyone was not interested in TV shows, there were some interesting choices running from the I Am Groot shorts to full-length movies like Prey or Samaritan.

Why the sudden interest to fill the summer schedule with can’t-miss TV fare? There are many factors, but most likely the reason is that the television and streaming schedules are very crowded now with lots of competition. Some of the above TV shows might have gotten lost in the shuffle of a fall or winter schedule with many other kinds of TV shows and events like the Super Bowl and major holidays. It could also be due to the pandemic since many people still won’t venture out into the movie theaters and prefer the comfort and safety of their homes.

Whatever the reason, it is worth mentioning that many of these TV shows are high-quality productions that resemble mini-films with big-name stars and topnotch special effects. Many of these shows entered the public consciousness this summer and became must-view events to be discussed either online or in person. These included The Boys, Stranger Things 4, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and Obi-Wan Kenobi. In fact, Stranger Things 4 helped revitalize interest in the old ’80s song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” due to the song’s placement in a few episodes. What is heartening is that many of the shows are not new and the fact that they can still generate public buzz is a remarkable achievement.

Will the summer of 2023 and future summer TV seasons match the quality and quantity of this summer’s exceptional genre TV shows? Who knows? Hopefully this trend will continue for a long time!