The theme song toX-Men: The Animated Series is undeniably amazing, but now there are accusations that it was stolen. A Hungarian man has filed a lawsuit against Marvel, Disney, Fox, Apple, Amazon, and others—along with folks from Saban Entertainment—claiming that the theme song was plagiarized.
io9 has looked over the lawsuit, which was filed Monday and first reported by TMZ. Zoltan Krisko, who claims to be managing the estate for Hungarian composer Gyorgy Vukan, says Vukan’s theme song for the 1980s crime drama Linda the Policewoman bears striking similarity to the one created for X-Men: The Animated Series, which debuted almost a decade later in 1992.
Linda the Policewoman, which was created by György Gát and distributed by Hungarian National Television, is described in the lawsuit as a “household name.” That’s not inaccurate. Running from 1983 to 1989, Linda was a popular show that not only brought kung fu fighting styles to Eastern Europe television but also apparently contributed to reshaping gender norms during the Iron Curtain.
Even though Hungary was isolated from much of the Western world during this time, the lawsuit claims the folks behind X-Men’s theme song still associated with Hungarian animators, which could have exposed them to Linda. The suit includes:
During the 1980s, cooperation between film industry professionals from different countries, including from the “Eastern” and “Western” world, existed despite the still standing Iron Curtain. Based on information and belief, as professionals in the animation film industry, Defendants Ronald Wasserman, Haim Saban and Shuki Levy all came in contact with Hungarian professionals in the film industry, and were aware of the famous animation workshop at Pannonia Filmstudio in Hungary, where Hungarian film industry professionals, such as Gyorgy Vukan, were frequent visitors.
Along with the companies, Krisko is suing Ron Wasserman and Shuki Levy, two composers for X-Men: The Animated Series who have each at one point taken credit for the theme song. The suit accuses several companies and folks that produced, distributed, syndicated, or otherwise profited from the show of enabling the copyright infringement of Vukan’s work (a problem that could still continue, since Disney is reportedly considering putting the series on Disney+).
That said, Vukan’s composition wasn’t registered for copyright in the United States until 2017, which is when Krisko said he first learned about X-Men: The Animated Series. Krisko is asking for damages and to award any profits attributable to him, and asking the court to restrain them and others from infringing on the copyright further.
This isn’t the first time the X-Men theme song has been accused of borrowing from other works. Several folks have cited its similarity to Whitney Houston’s “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” which came out in 1990. But unlike this situation, it doesn’t look like that ever resulted in a lawsuit.
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It’s only a couple months now until The Mandalorian launches on Disney Plus, and to whet our appetites for morally ambiguous space fantasy action we’ve got even more details to go through.
In a lengthy report by IGN, Dave Filoni talks the challenge of directing and executive producing The Mandalorian, his first live-action work, and we also get our first look into the cockpit of the Mando’s ship, the Razor Crest.
“I was taught by George and there are a lot of things that I want to do with Star Wars, that I feel make something feel like Star Wars and very classic,” Filoni said of his experience working on The Mandalorian,his first live-action series after over a decade working on the animated end of the Star Wars universe. “But of course everything I was doing was the first time I was doing it, in a way, because it’s live-action. So while it’s a world that’s familiar to me, it was a medium that was not as familiar to me— though George had prepared me well over the years with his training. I was fortunate to have Jon, people like Greig Fraser [director of photography on The Mandalorian and Rogue One] on board to help guide me through the process and help realize what I was trying to do shooting-wise and performance-wise. So that was all a challenge, but an exciting one.”
He was brought into the process early, Filoni explained, to work with series lead Jon Favreau to discuss ideas and then, ultimately, to direct two episodes, including the pilot, which marked the first time Filoni worked on material he himself hadn’t written in a very long time.
“I really appreciate that he brought me into this process and that he values my point of view because I’ve been with Star Wars so long,” Filoni told IGN, “but I really wanted to accomplish the story that he set out to make. It was wonderful. I was very flattered that he was willing even to have me direct the pilot. So that was a great honor and responsibility.”
Interestingly, parts of the process were actually familiar to Filoni, as the filming—as Favreau has discussed in other interviews—was done using virtual reality and videogame engine technology, allowing for blocking out scenes in digital environments before putting them together on a practical set, not dissimilar to animation techniques used for similar purposes.
I would liken it in some ways to what I was doing with George on The Clone Wars, where now through digital technology you can visualize scenes and sequences earlier. In animation, we call it a previs and it was a natural fit for me in this process because it did have these digital elements, but some of it when we were shooting was really brand new technology. And that also was good for me because I didn’t have any preconceived notion about how anything should be done. I was learning the process with all the new technology… And there’s a strong animation component in the way that we visualize some of the things early on in the virtual blocking… It’s one of the reasons why Kathy [Kennedy] thought this would be a great connection for me. Not just because I knew Jon, but I had some insights into the technology.
And while Filoni didn’t dish much on the actual content side, IGN does have a quick first look at the interior of the Mando’s ship, the Razor Crest, in the form of a sharp piece of concept art.
The art shows the Mando at his one-man cockpit, which looks… well, like a Star Wars cockpit. I wonder where the bathroom is. Do these things have bathrooms? Also, IGN confirms that the cockpit will be represented on-screen by a practical set, which is always nice to have. That tactile feeling always makes Star Wars pop.
He only appeared for one second in The Empire Strikes Back, but Willrow Hood became a Star Wars icon. Not for any reason in particular, however. Just because he looked kind of funny running across Cloud City with what Star Wars fans have long since settled on is an “ice cream maker.”
Well, io9 can exclusively reveal that’s no ice cream maker. In fact, it’s a safe.
A camtono, actually. The word briefly made it out into the world at Star Wars Celebration earlier this year when, in an extended clip from The Mandalorian that never made it online, Werner Herzog’s character shows the titular bounty hunter a piece of beskar—an ancient, valuable, Mandalorian alloy—and tells him he’ll give him a camtono of it when he completes the mission.
We don’t know what the mission is yet and we don’t know the name of Herzog’s character. What we do know, thanks to a source close to the production, is that a camtono is like a safe or a lock box, Herzog’s character has one full of beskar, and it’s the same item Willrow Hood is running around with in The Empire Strikes Back.
A Star Wars safe makes so much more sense than an ice cream maker, doesn’t it? Ice cream is great. But if you’re trying to escape your home from an imminent Imperial take over, what do you grab? The thing that makes ice cream, or the secure container that holds your valuables? [Editor’s Note: io9 writer’s opinions on this vary. -Jill P.]
How, or if, The Mandalorian makes this connection between Hood’s camtono and Herzog’s camtono, we do not know. Are they the same one? Doubtful. But we do know they’re the same general thing, so you can now cross that long-running Star Wars mystery off your list. We’ve reached out to Lucasfilm for comment and will update if we hear back.
The Mandalorian will debut on Disney+ November 12.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated the item was a “kamtono.” In fact, “camtono” is the correct spelling. We regret the error.
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Fans who watched The Mandalorian panel online during Star Wars Celebration Sunday missed one key thing: never-before-seen footage for the first ever live-action Star Wars TV series. In the room, executive producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni showed a behind the scenes featurette as well as full scene and trailer. We’ll start with the trailer.
Things start in a Cantina. We know this by the crazy collection of weird aliens and all the noises you know and love. Cut to a table, and on one end is Greef, played by Carl Weathers, and the other, The Mandalorian, played by Pedro Pascal. The Mandalorian does not take his mask off in any of these scenes.
Greef taks out a bunch of pucks, which are bounty markers and look like things you use to play shuffleboard. “Bail jumper, bail jumper, bail jumper” he says as he lays them on the table. Neither man is impressed as the bounties Greef has. “I’ll take them all,” the Mando says. Greef says that’s all he has, implying he doesn’t want to give them all to him. “What’s the highest bounty you have?”the Mando asks. “5000 credits,” Greef replies. “That doesn’t even cover fuel these days,” says the Mando. Well, Greef says, there is this one job. It doesn’t have a puck. It’s more a face-to-face, direct commission kind of thing. “Underworld?” The Mandalorian asks. He’s interested. Greef hands him a card and the Mandalorian walks out.
He’s on the streets of some kind of city. It’s the same street, in the same outfit, he’s in in the first press shot of the show. His walk is slow, like an actor wearing too much costume, but probably because this guy also isn’t in a rush to get where he’s going. Along the way, he walks by a stand that’s grilling kowakian monkey lizard, with another one in a cage ready to be eaten. He arrives at a door, knocks, and out pops a TT-8L/Y7 gatekeeper droid, just like at Jabba’s Palace in Return of the Jedi. The droid scans the card Greef gave the Mando and lets him in.
A gonk droid greets him at the door, and the Mandalorian follows it slowly as it gonks away. It’s a dark hallway with those long Star Wars lights in a few places here and there. The hallway leads to a door. When it opens, it’s filled with Stormtroopers. They look dirty and and rundown. At a table in the center of the room is their leader, or a man who appears to be their leader, at least: a man played by Werner Herzog. Herzog’s character says Greef told him he was the best bounty hunter in this parsec, and very expensive. As they’re talking, a door opens, and in walks another man, played by American Gods’ Omid Abtahi. Out of instinct and surprise, the Mando pulls his gun on the man, who he’s told is a scientist and not a threat. Even so, the Mando keeps his guns up, because all the Stormtroopers have also pulled on him and say he won’t put his guns down until they do. “We have you four to one,” says one of the troopers. “I like those odds,” replies the Mando. Finally, everyone puts down their weapons, the scientist relaxes, and the Mandalorian sits down.
Herzog’s character puts an orange cloth on the table and reveals a piece of beskar, the metal alloy the Mandalorians typically craft their infamous armor out of—strong enough to absorb a blaster bolt, perhaps strong enough to take a glancing blow from a lightsaber. Everyone is very impressed. “Go ahead, it’s real” says Herzog’s character. He adds that’s just a down-payment and there’s much more if the Mandalorian brings the mark in alive. However, Herzog’s character adds, he understands bounty hunting can be hard, and would accept proof of termination for a lower overall fee. “That’s not what we agreed upon,” says the scientist. “I’m just bring pragmatic,” says Herzog’s character.
The Mandalorian accepts the deal and asks what information he has. He doesn’t have a puck on this being, but has a tracking FOB and four digits of an eight digit ID number. Which, considering it’s 50 years old, is apparently still impressive. It was unclear why, but Herzog’s character can also provide the mark’s last reported position which, he suggests, in tandem with the other information, should be more than enough for a man of the Mandalorian’s talents to complete the task.
“It’s good for beskar to be back in the hands of a Mandalorian,” says Herzog’s character. “It’s nice to restore things after a period of disarray.” The Mandalorian exits, and the Lucasfilm logo appears.
Now the footage goes properly into trailer time. We see the Mandalorian’s ship, the Razorcrest, flying across the sky. In a cantina (there are a lot of cantina’s in this show, apparently!), the Mandalorian sees Cara Dune, played by Gina Carano, described at today’s Celebration panel as an “Ex-Rebel shocktrooper”. “What’s her business here?” he asks, before the two fight in hand-to-hand combat outside—falling on the ground and both pulling guns on each other simultaneously.
Over all of the next footage, a monologue plays. It’s delivered by Werner Herzog’s character. This isn’t 100% exactly, but it’s close:
The Empire improves every system it touches. Judging by any metric: safety, prosperity, compare Imperial rule to what’s going on now. Is the world more peaceful since the revolution? Look outside. I see nothing but death and chaos.
While Herzog monologues, a character played by Giancarlo Esposito walks up. He’s a bad guy, you can tell. He’s with a bunch of different Stormtroopers. “Burn them out,” he says, as a trooper with a flamethrower goes to town burning something with dozens of other troopers laying on the ground dead. Inside another cantina (like I said, lots of cantinas) there are a slew of different aliens: Twi’leks, Jawas, a Devaronian, etc. Outside, an IG-assassin droid, presumably the one played by director Taika Waititi, is in the street spinning and killing a bunch of troopers. A new character played by comedian Bill Burr, holding two blasters, with a shaved head, fires in a green-lit space ship. Another character flys a TIE fighter, and then we see slow-motion footage of the Mandalorian hitting a Stormtrooper in the mask, and the mask crashing under the pressure. Finally, the Mandalorian raises his staff-like gun—an homage to the blaster rifle wielded by Boba Fett in his animated debut during the Star Wars Holiday Special.
Earlier in the Celebration panel, behind the scenes footage was screened to attendees, which gave even more context to all this footage. Over a black screen and the sound of constant beeping, the image fades up on a pair of feet walking on a desolate, dark snow planet. Think Hoth at night, with less accumulation. As the camera pans up, we see it’s The Mandalorian holding a tracking device. Things pull back and he’s walking into what basically looks like the outpost in John Carpenter’s The Thing. The doors to the place swing open, and we see him in silhouette (the shot released as a promo picture you can find at the very top of this post). This is some kind of bar—again, with the cantinas!—filled with new aliens.
As this is a behind the scenes trailer, there are a lot of talking heads explaining the world as we see all kinds of concept art, and other snippets from filming. One piece is what appears to be a Mandalorian—perhaps the Mandalorian—riding a Dewback. Another is the Mandalorian talking with other Mandalorians. All kinds of art and shots followed: shots of a cantina, a busted TIE Fighter, an overhead view of the aforementioned snow area looks like it houses a huge asterix-shaped city, dug into a mountain range. There was art of Jawas, and one of their sandcrawlers. Speeder bikes, new aliens running with guns on like a swampy, but bright, planet. The Mandalorian firing a stand-up cannon emplacement, then Greef standing with three other bounty hunters looking at something approaching them. All of that was also edited with footage of the impressive list of directors and them talking about how excited they are for the show, and posing for photos.
And, guess what? We were impressed too. The footage not just looked great, it looked cinematic and very, very Star Wars. November 12 can’t come soon enough.
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