Tag Archives: marvel studios

The Writers of Deadpool Are Thinking About His Next Movie a Lot

Thanks to his first two films, Deadpool already has a pretty wide-open world to play in. With Disney’s purchase of Fox, that world, hypothetically, is about to get a lot bigger.

That large superhero canvas is very exciting for Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, who wrote both Deadpool movies and are about to release Zombieland: Double Tap. While promoting that film, io9 asked the duo where their heads were at with a potential Deadpool 3 and the possibilities the Marvel Cinematic Universe may hold.

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“The plan and the hope is that Marvel allows us to continue Deadpool in his R-rated universe that he lives in and also, hopefully over time, we get to play a little bit in the MCU sandbox as well,” Wernick told io9.

“It’s all undetermined, though,” added Reese.

When io9 then asked about their general ideas, it was obvious they’d thought about it a lot, but probably just couldn’t say that much. Even so, what they said was exciting.

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“Marvel’s a rich universe of both heroes and also, wonderfully, villains,” Reese said. “So we would love to see Deadpool enter that universe in a fun way. It’s just about figuring out how and when.”

“[Plus] Ryan [Reynolds] is very busy and the transition has delayed everything because you just don’t know,” he continued. “[Marvel Studios] is figuring out the next version of the MCU obviously and that’s its own beast. Then you throw Deadpool in there and the X-Men and stuff, and it’s crazy.”

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“But like Zombieland I think until we land on that one idea we’ll wait,” Wernick added. “It’s a special project for all of us. And one that deserves a wonderful, great idea. We will continue to trade texts back and forth with Ryan until we land on it, and then my guess is we’ll be off writing soon after that.”

So answer your texts, Ryan. And the same goes for you too, Kevin Feige.

Zombieland: Double Tap is out October 18 and we’ll have much more on it soon.


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Source: Kotaku.com

Can Marvel Crossovers Ever Escape the Infinity Saga?

Thanos threatens the cosmos once more in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3.
Image: Nintendo

This month, nearly a decade to the month after the release of its predecessor, Nintendo released Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, a return to the beloved ARPG Marvel gaming series that takes comic book crossover mania to a team-based beat ‘em up conclusion. But it also serves as a reminder that…god, things were so different back when Ultimate Alliance 2 was coming out, weren’t they?

In September 2009, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still just a glimmer in Kevin Feige’s eye. We had accepted that upstart newcomers Marvel Studios might be on to something with the release of Iron Man the year prior (who would’ve thought that gamble casting Robert Downey Jr. as some B-tier comics character would pay off?), and at that point, only what is still the green-skinned stepchild of the MCU, Incredible Hulk, had joined it. The First Avenger, Thor, Iron Man 2, they had all yet to come—and above all, no one going to a movie theater outside of comic book diehards knew what an Infinity Stone was. There were murmurs of the Avengers, sure, after Samuel L. Jackson made us sit in a movie theater a little longer than we were used to (the audacity!). But Thanos? A gauntlet? Nada.

Holy hell, remember this?
Image: Activision

We also had the release of Vicarious Visions’ Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, which unlike all those lame-looking superhero movies we were being inundated with in the ‘00s, looked kind great. The follow up to a surprise 2006 hit and an adaptation of the then-recent comics event superseries Civil War, Ultimate Alliance 2 presented an intriguingly gamified take on a blockbuster storyline: Superhero vs. Superhero! Privacy vs. Protection! That Guy you kind of know from a movie but he’s weirdly even more of a giant asshole vs. that guy with a shield they’re thinking of casting Jim from The Office as!

MUA2 was an unfiltered window into the world of Marvel’s comic book output as it was directly in 2009 which, in the context of everything has happened since, becomes a fascinating time capsule to reminisce over. It was a time when X-Men and Fantastic Four icons could stand alongside the Avengers and no one would bat an eye, because that’s just what happens in comics. A time when no one knew what an Infinity Stone was. And they were Infinity Gems, if you did.

In June 2019, by contrast, we were coming off the back of the release of something as bonkers as Avengers: Endgame. Over a decade and nearly two-dozen movies, the Infinity Stones haven’t just become part of pop culture lexicon at large, they have been gathered, used, re-gathered, and re-used. Thanos lived, rose up, and now died (twice, technically!), long live Thanos. So has Tony Stark, although the large shadow he cast over the MCU that Iron Man helped create all those years ago will continue to linger without him, thanks to the indomitable legacy of Robert Downey Jr.

At last, the cinematic version of the Infinity Saga is at an end—and here stands Nintendo and Team Ninja with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. Which is…a quest. To gather the Infinity Stones. And stop Thanos before he does so!

At least Proxima Midnight (and her friends, I guess) get a better due here than they did in Infinity War.
Image: Nintendo

And look, here are your familiar cinematic faces in a roster of Marvel heroes now considerably less esoteric than the one in Ultimate Alliance 2—filled with characters slightly ajar enough to be comics-inspired, but close enough to basically be the characterization of their movie counterparts. Here is the Black Order, aka Those Guys With About 10 Minutes Max of Infinity War and Endgame Screen Time, to find them! Here’s Ultron, please remember that movie that most people thought was just kind of okay! Here is Daredevil making a joke about hallway fights with other Netflix-Approved Heroes!

Here is…an ill-advised push to make the Inhumans a Thing People Care About that fails in doing exactly that! See, just like the MCU you know and love.

To be fair to Ultimate Alliance 3, it wears its inspirations on its sleeve—it does not mask its pretty direct connections to that giant movie you (and what feels like the rest of the planet) have just seen to the tune of a gabillion dollars, as if they were something worth masking in the first place. Marvel Cosmic Bullshit is just as good an excuse as any to smash all these heroes together, and smash Ultimate Alliance 3 does with an earnest abandon. It, thanks to the comics, can even go one better than the films, adding beloved comics heroes like Ms. Marvel—well, Kamala Khan, specifically, now that Carol’s had her well-earned promotion to Captain Marvel—and Spider-Gwen, alongside familiar names from the movies.

There are even X-Men characters and a whole level set at the X-Mansion! As if this game didn’t already serve as a reminder of what a long, strange decade it’s been, this marks the mutants’ first major foray back into Marvel tie-in media since that whole awkwardness with Marvel attempting to blacklist mutants and the Fantastic Four in its gaming spinoffs over a spat with Fox, who owned the movie rights for them. Well, up until the point Disney grew tired of the charade and absorbed the film studio into its giant, Mickey-ear-adorned mass earlier this year. At least we can play as Wolverine again?

They may look more like their usual appearances in the comics, but this is unequivocally an MCU-inspired lineup.
Image: Nintendo

But as fun as it is from a “I can play as Scarlet Witch and Elsa Bloodstone smashing up faceless bad guys for several hours” perspective, Ultimate Alliance 3 is still about smashing up those faceless bad guys in a saga we are now intimately, tiredly familiar with. Not just thanks to the movies, either, but because it seems like the Infinity Stones have been the catch-all reason for any Marvel crossover outside the comics lately—including other recent games like Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite.

A decade in the waiting, I wish it had been bolder—to take more direct inspiration (not even necessarily like its predecessors) from a particular arc of comics, and to embrace the idea behind why we love these superheroic crossovers at all in the first place. To do something silly, and wild, and zany to match the candy-coated Spandex it otherwise revels in thanks to its thankfully-comics-inspired-aesthetic.

We have had a decade of Infinity Stones. There’s so much more Marvel can be, whether it’s on the big screen (where we’re finally getting an intriguing glimpse of such a thing), in its comics, or in games like Spider-Man, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, the upcoming Avengers game, and beyond. Perhaps, after one last indulgence in this familiar well, its time to put the Infinity Gauntlet away for a good long while.


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Source: Kotaku.com

New Concept Art Reveals Our First Look at Black Widow’s Taskmaster

The cast of Black Widow in Hall H.
Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

When some concrete info on the Black Widow solo film finally dropped last night at San Diego Comic-Con, all the hints pointed toward Taskmaster, a dude with the power to instantly replicate any physical action he sees, as the villain. Now, with the release of a new official illustration, that’s pretty much confirmed.

Andy Park, Director of Visual Development at Marvel Studios, is responsible for the visual identity of much of the film universe, and is the best source around for illustrations related to the MCU. Now, he’s posted a new keyframe illustration from the Black Widow movie, featuring Natasha fighting a heavily armored villain with a shield identified as Taskmaster.

In the comics, the Taskmaster is Tony Masters, a mercenary who injected himself with an experimental serum that gave him the power of “photographic reflexes,” meaning that he can reproduce, from memory, any action he sees. So he can fire arrows as like Hawkeye, fight like Shang-Chi, and throw a shield like Captain America. All he has to do is see them do it first.

What’s still not clear, though, is what the character’s origin is going to be in the MCU, or who’s going to play them. Out of the confirmed cast, we know that David Harbour is playing Alexei Shoskatov, the Red Guardian (the Communist answer to Captain America). Could the Guardian go rogue and become a supervillain? Who knows, at this point. But we did see, in the footage shown at the Hall H panel, Natasha fighting someone who definitely seemed like Taskmaster. Florence Pugh is playing Yelena, O-T Fagbenle is Mason, and Rachel Weisz is Melina (Weisz is Deputy Editor Jill Pantozzi’s guess for Taskmaster as an MCU switcheroo).

After watching the footage at the Marvel panel, io9 caught up with Scarlett Johansson. She talked to us about the joy of working in an increasingly more gender diverse MCU, which includes the director of Black Widow, Cate Shortland, the first solo woman director in the MCU. You can check that out below.

For more on Marvel’s announcements at Comic-Con, check out our master post here. Black Widow is due in theaters May 1, 2020.


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Source: Kotaku.com

All the Legendary Cosplay We Saw at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Day 1

San Diego Comic-Con is back, baby, and the cosplay is looking bigger and better than ever. Thousands of cosplayers and fans have flocked to the San Diego Convention Center to show off their tributes to amazing shows, films, comics, and video games. And we’ve got it all right here.

Take a look at io9’s video and photo collection, highlighting our favorite finds from Wednesday and Thursday. We’ve got a terrifying Tethered duo from Us, a shockingly uncanny Princess Anastasia, and a couple that apparently got devoured by Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Leave a comment with your favorites, or share your own look from SDCC! Also, be sure to head to our Instagram Stories, where we’re sharing even more looks and cool finds from the con floor. Have fun!


Ice to meet you, Sub-Zero.
Photo: io9/Gizmodo
We’re gonna be legends! Mirage, Bangalore, Bloodhound, and Wattson from Apex Legends are here to take the number 1 spot.
Photo: io9/Gizmodo

Conan readies his sword.
Photo: io9/Gizmodo
Snow White’s looking rather dapper.
Photo: io9/Gizmodo

Dread him. Run from him. Thanos still arrives.
Photo: io9/Gizmodo
Indiana Jones has found her own kind of Comic-Con swag.
Photo: io9/Gizmodo


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Source: Kotaku.com

The Challenge of Making and Marketing Spider-Man: Far From Home, When No One Could Know What It Was About

Wait, what just happened? That should be the face for everything in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Photo: Sony

Spider-Man being dead wasn’t a huge problem. One would think killing the main character of a movie about year before its release would be exactly that but, for the team behind Spider-Man: Far From Home, it was not. Instead, it was just the first part of a long-in-place plan to raise the stakes for not just one movie, but at least three.

“I was one of the lucky few people who knew what was going to happen in Infinity War and Endgame a long time ago,” Far From Home director Jon Watts told io9. “So this movie was developed knowing that we would be dealing with the immediate fallout of the events of those films. It was always a part of the story but it is a little stressful knowing those kinds of spoilers and not being able to tell anyone for a really long time.”

To recap, in May 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, Peter Parker disappears from existence when Thanos uses the Infinity Stones to wipe out half of the galaxy. A year later, in May 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, Peter would be brought back, only for him to witness the death of his mentor, Tony Stark. All of those events were crucial building blocks for Spider-Man: Far From Home, which was being released mere weeks after Endgame.

“Because Infinity War and Endgame had been developed over so many years and had been shooting earlier, it was pretty much set,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told io9. “So the notion of the sacrifices, of Tony, the blip, all of that was pretty well set for a long time. So we brought Amy [Pascal, producer] and Jon Watts and our writers Chris [McKenna] and Erik [Sommers] up to speed on it to start developing the movie.”

Spider-Man swinging with a few of his friends in Avengers: Endgame.
Photo: Disney

In Watts’ first Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter Parker leaned heavily on the mentorship of Iron Man, Tony Stark. That relationship then carried over into both Avengers movies. Now though, with Tony dead, it was crucial for Far From Home to use those emotions to guide Peter, but not become too beholden to them.

“We had to deal with the events of Endgame and especially how the loss of Tony Stark is going to affect Peter,” Watts said. “But we had to also maintain the fun, high school tone we had established in Homecoming. So that was part of the challenge. But loss is such a big part of what makes Spider-Man who he is in the comics. So there was definitely a way to embrace those iconic stories from the comics and find a way to bring them to life, just in a slightly different way by using Tony’s death instead of Uncle Ben.”

So that’s how the story was conceived on the creative side, but there was also a whole other problem.

“It was always like, how are we going to market this movie?” Watts said. “How do you make the first trailer when the character is still dead?”

New suit, who dis?
Photo: Sony

The answer, according to Watts, was, “Very carefully.”

The task fell to the team at Sony, a studio Far From Home producer Amy Pascal used to run. And Pascal told io9 that, again, though you may assume it was a huge problem to market a movie with a dead main character based on an ultra-secretive mega-franchise, it wasn’t that at all. (The spoiler-free first trailer is below.)

“It wasn’t a balance at all because we knew what the story we were going to tell was from the beginning,” Pascal told io9. “Tom [Rothman, current studio head], everyone at Sony and everyone at Disney, it was something that we all did together. Obviously, it was really important to protect Endgame and not come out with anything before that movie came out. But I think it worked out great for both movies because, obviously, Endgame was great for Spidey…It worked out for everyone.”

It certainly did. There’s little doubt the shocking cliffhanger of Avengers: Infinity War helped drive Avengers: Endgame to become one of the highest grossing movies ever. And the momentum from that is almost certainly going to roll into Far From Home, which will be the first place the aftermath of that heroic victory will be seen and felt.

Jon Watts and Tom Holland on the set of Far From Home.
Photo: Sony

On the other hand, this movie isn’t called “Avengers: Far From Home.” While the impact of Endgame is crucial for a bunch of reasons, it couldn’t be the whole movie. It’s a movie about Spider-Man. Feige gives full credit to Watts for figuring out the perfect way to link everything in a short, sweet, Spidey way.

Some minor spoilers from the film, which opens tomorrow, follow.

“[It was] the genius of Jon Watts tapping into the great ‘A Film by Peter Parker’ at the opening of Homecoming, which brings you up to speed after [Captain America:] Civil War,” Feige said. “He was like ‘Well, this is a ton of stuff. Let’s just do the school news at the beginning that gets it out in a fun and engaging fashion but tells the audience what they need to know based on Endgame.’ And it seemed like a gift to be able to have that conceit he had established in Homecoming come in very handy post-Endgame. And, obviously, Peter Parker dealing with the loss of his mentor and he needs to step out of the shadow of that and become his own hero became the backbone of the story.”

Which leads us to Spider-Man’s new mentor, Mysterio, but that’s a story for another time.

Spider-Man Far From Home opens July 2.


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Source: Kotaku.com

Spider-Man: Far From Home: The Totally Spoiler-Free Video Review

io9 ReviewsReviews and critical analyses of fan-favorite movies, TV shows, comics, books, and more.  

Did you read our review of Spider-Man: Far From Home and think, “This is good, but what do other writers on the site think?” Did you also think “I’d prefer to hear those thoughts with a visual accompaniment?” If so, my friend, today is your lucky day. No spoilers lie ahead!

Above is my addendum to Charles Pulliam-Moore’s review. We both agree that the movie is great. I’ve seen it twice, so in addition to everything I say above, here are some other non-spoiler thoughts.

My biggest takeaway, in fact, is that knowing the spoilers in Spider-Man: Far From Home almost makes it better. All of the big twists and turns in the film are so well seeded that, on the first watch, you probably won’t notice them. But the second time around, there’s just enough there for you to realize what’s coming and appreciate those moments even more. It’s a very well-crafted film all around.

A second viewing also helps you realize just how beautifully paced it is. Even at a little over two hours, the film cooks. There’s not a dull moment, and as it nears the end, you feel like you’ve been watching it for 10 minutes. The propulsiveness of it is remarkable.

And finally, the fact that a superhero movie can not only use the global in-world events of Avengers: Endgame to its advantage but sprinkle in just enough global real-world concerns, really puts it all over the top. I’ll leave that at that but you’ll know it when you see it.

Which you absolutely should. Spider-Man: Far From Home is the goods. It opens July 2.


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Source: Kotaku.com

Kevin Feige Hints at How a Black Widow Prequel Could Reveal Secrets of the MCU

A Black Widow prequel will move the MCU forward in unexpected ways, suggests Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.
Photo: Disney

Black Widow is dead. This much we know from Avengers: Endgame. And yet, if the rumors are true, Scarlett Johansson is about to, or already has, started filming a Black Widow movie that would be one of the first films in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Though neither Disney or Marvel Studios have even confirmed that movie is happening, we asked Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige how “potentially” going back in time for a Black Widow prequel could possibly help move the story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe forward for Phase 4.

“There’s a method to the madness,” Feige told io9 while promoting Spider-Man: Far From Home. “There’s always a method and doing things in an unexpected way is something we find fun. There are ways to do prequels that are less informative or answer questions you didn’t necessarily have, and then there are ways to do prequels where you learn all sorts of things you never knew before.”

It seems Feige is suggesting if a Black Widow prequel is coming (which it totally is, come on now), it would be the latter: a film that teaches audiences things they didn’t know before. Maybe she interacted with the Skrulls like Captain Marvel and Nick Fury? Maybe she unlocked a whole other plot that she never got to finish?

“I look at Better Call Saul as a wonderful example of a prequel that almost completely stands on its own apart from Breaking Bad because it informs you about so many things you didn’t know about before,” Feige continues. “So time will tell which way we’ve gone with a supposed Black Widow movie.” Feige lightly chuckled after that last phrase.

With Marvel Studios set to return to Hall H of San Diego Comic-Con in about a month, we’re likely to get much more news on this “supposed Black Widow movie” soon. But, for fans dying to know what comes next after Avengers: Endgame, well, Spider-Man: Far From Home will offer a good chunk of answers. That opens July 2.

This article was edited after publication to emphasize Feige’s inflection on the second quote.


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Source: Kotaku.com

Disney Is Moving Forward With Construction on Its Marvel Theme Park Expansion

Avengers Tower in the MCU.
Image: Marvel Studios

With Galaxy’s Edge a success, it’s time for Disney to move forward on its next franchise-incorporating theme park project: a Marvel park.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Disney has begun work building the park, which will be at Disney’s California Adventure park, in a location previously used for an area dedicated to the (frankly underrated) A Bug’s Life. As the LA Times reports, Disney has secured permits for the construction to get underway, including allowances for a character meet-and-greet area, a store bigger than most houses, and a microbrewery, which I’m seriously hoping is Thor-branded.

Presently, the area where construction is happening is blocked by a large temporary wall, upon which is written “Stark Industries.” Looks like Tony’s getting into the theme park business.

[h/t Entertainment Weekly]


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Source: Kotaku.com

A Look Back at Farscape: Aliens, Puppets, and Criminals on the Run

When we think about space operas, we think about Star Wars or Star Trek, or even Stargate. These are the sweeping, grand sagas, with stalwart heroes and clear distinctions between right and wrong. Farscape is not that kind of story.

Commissioned by the Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy), produced by the Jim Henson Company, and shot in Australia, Farscape ran for four seasons from 1999 to 2003. Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Farscape was a bizarre, gun-toting series about criminals on the run; its main cast featured two puppets, several aliens, and only one human. This, along with its daring plot lines and downright absurdity, made it an instant cult hit, but Farscape never quite reached the brand recognition of its rivals. Yet this show quietly redefined sci-fi—and we can still see its influence on the genre today.


Shot through a wormhole

“Just make it as weird as you possibly can.” According to creator Rockne S. O’Bannon, this was the order given to him and Brian Henson, as they stood in the Syfy president’s office 20 years ago last month. The network was undergoing a major regime change, and the interim president wasn’t sure what Farscape was—“He thought it was going to be a kids’ show,” O’Bannon told io9—but his words were a showrunner’s dream. With free rein to create whatever they wanted, Farscape truly lived up to its new mandate, and as Syfy’s first original flagship show they blended wild concepts with passionate sexuality, thought experiments about war, and, of course, Henson creatures.

Having grown up in the Jim Henson Creature Shop, Brian Henson (son of Jim) had very specific aims for Farscape. “I wanted to do something extraordinary in science fiction that differentiated us from the big shows at the time, something only our company could do,” he said. In an era when sci-fi was grounded and emotionally reserved (think the stoic authority of The Next Generation or Stargate: SG-1), Henson and creator O’Bannon wanted to “dial the emotion up to 11” and defy convention. With the Creature Shop at their disposal, the production team meticulously crafted an alien environment that looked genuinely alien, making for what Henson called a “wilder vision of space opera with a more primal energy.”

And wild Farscape was. The premise was simple, yet effective: Thanks to a wormhole experiment gone wrong, Earth scientist John Crichton turns up on the other side of the universe, accidentally kills the brother of a military commander, falls in with escaped convicts on a living spaceship, and meets Aeryn Sun, enemy soldier and the soon-to-be love of his life —all in the premiere episode’s first 20 minutes.

Ok, maybe it’s not that simple. But Syfy’s new flagship show premiered to 1.4 million viewers, impressive for the network at the time, and maintained this viewership with little drop-off throughout its four seasons. Unfortunately, the Syfy Channel picked up Stargate: SG-1 in 2002, which soon eclipsed Farscape in terms of ratings. Farscape’s ratings did decline in its fourth season, if marginally, and at reportedly $2 million per episode to produce, the show became less viable for the network.

The ax finally fell at the end of season four, but within hours of the cancellation news, fans had already mounted a fervent campaign for renewal. As their efforts garnered more attention in the press, the Jim Henson Company received enough financial backing to produce The Peacekeeper Wars, a three-hour miniseries that wrapped up the show’s main plotline.

The passion of Farscape’s fanbase has far from died out, even two decades after the premiere—and many Farscape fans are now behind the camera for TV and film. Actor Ben Browder (John Crichton) told io9 how often showrunners and filmmakers will cite Farscape as a source of inspiration to him. “I’ve had conversations with Bryan Fuller and…Farscape. Russell T. Davies…Farscape. When I met James Gunn, I introduced myself and he said ‘I know who you are.’ And I said ‘Yeah, I thought you did because I saw your movie, bro.’” Gunn credits Farscape as a major influence on Guardians of the Galaxy—proving that although it was short-lived, Farscape’s legacy endures.

Some distant part of the universe

Watching the show today, it’s easy to see why Farscape is beloved, because it is still so truly original. By flinging its human protagonist to the other side of the galaxy and immersing him in alien cultures, Farscape did something no other show has achieved—it de-normalized normal, and normalized the totally bizarre. To us, John Crichton may be the perfect everyman, but to everyone around him, he is the weird, nonsensical interloper. Seemingly unfazed, Crichton insistently makes pop culture references, despite the fact that no one understands him, and dives headfirst into every weird situation.

Crichton’s constant stream of pop culture quips weren’t just a way of providing humor; as with so many aspects of Farscape, they hid a deeper conflict. “It was his pressure valve,” creator O’Bannon explained. “He was keeping some sort of connection to Earth.” From throwing out Star Trek quotes to re-enacting an entire scene from Blazing Saddles, Crichton is desperate to remind himself of home the only way he can. These references entered the script very naturally, evolving from writers’ room in-jokes. “When we introduced Scorpius and he’s putting Crichton in the Aurora chair, Crichton calls it the ‘comfy chair’, which is a Monty Python reference—and that’s what we called it in the writers’ room.” The first draft of the script for the season one episode “Mind” didn’t feature this reference, but O’Bannon was sure to put it back in. “Even if 50% of the viewers don’t get it, it’s a good reference, so why not include it?”

Crichton’s new crewmates are at turns baffled and frustrated with his bizarre human behavior, but they can’t help but find it endearing. And the reverse is also true, as Crichton helps a blue-hued priestess (Zhaan), a warrior (D’Argo), a haughty emperor (Rygel, a puppet), an enemy soldier (Aeryn), a thief (Chiana), a pilot (Pilot, an animatronic puppet), and a living ship (Moya), bond together to finally find what they didn’t even realize they were searching for: a family. It’s the classic stranger-in-a-strange-land story, except for once it is not the alien that is the stranger, but the human who is alien. And as Crichton is a touchstone for the audience, so the viewers, too, are thrown into a whole new landscape.

This starts from the moment Crichton stumbles onto Moya’s bridge, confronted by a cacophony of guttural grunts and high-pitched trills. The aliens—D’Argo, Zhaan, and Rygel—are each communicating in their native tongues, yet they understand each other. This is thanks to the Translator Microbes that are injected at birth to all peoples in this corner of the galaxy, which was creator O’Bannon’s innovative solution to one of sci-fi’s most annoying problems. Once injected, Crichton can understand almost all verbal communication, with the exception of various technical terms, curses, and slang words.

This made for a rich dialect of alien slang that is peppered throughout Farscape’s dialogue, becoming one of the most recognizable aspects of the show. As slang phrases come from decades of culture-specific context, they are therefore untranslatable—but that didn’t stop O’Bannon developing a wide lexicon of alien swears. “I wanted the audience to get the meaning of the alien word smoothly,” O’Bannon elaborated, “so we strived to make the alien words similar to their Earth equivalent. ‘Dren’ sounds like the Yiddish ‘drek’, and of course ‘frell’ starts with an ‘f’. ‘Frell’ was particularly useful because it added the intensity of punctuating a statement with the f-word, without dropping the dreaded bomb.”

Strange, alien lifeforms…

O’Bannon and Henson’s dedication to doing something different led Farscape to fascinating places. Always unpredictable and never taking itself too seriously, the show veers from tragedy to comedy, sometimes even within one episode. This is a vivid corner of the galaxy that Crichton finds himself in, teeming with dozens if not hundreds of different lifeforms which, thanks to the Jim Henson Creature Shop, all had distinct appearances and cultures. This was no easy task, but as Brian Henson said, “if someone says something’s impossible, that to me is a challenge.”

Even in the pilot episode, we can see the results of the impossible made possible, like the gigantic, bug-like animatronic alien which features in a brief scene.

This six-foot tall creature is onscreen for a grand total of one minute.
Image: Syfy

“That was Dave Elsey’s first character that he did from scratch,” Henson told io9. Elsey, who worked at the London Creature Shop before moving to Australia for Farscape, went on to win an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (for 2010’s The Wolfman, shared with the legendary Rick Baker). “I think he wanted to prove that he could be just as good as the London Creature Shop. [He] built it in such a way that it really only does that one scene and then it pretty much fell apart. I always say to the animatronic builders ‘if something is needed for only one thing, be very, very ambitious and if it only lasts for half an hour of shooting and then falls apart that’s okay, that’s a win’.”

It is this attention to detail that makes Farscape such a gorgeous thrill ride, and one which has stood the test of time; despite its age, Farscape’s visual effects still look amazing. Of course, not all animatronics were built to last just one episode. “Every single time I walked on the Pilot set my jaw dropped,” actor Anthony Simcoe (D’Argo) revealed. This immense animatronic was perhaps the greatest Farscape creation, operated by almost a dozen puppeteers hidden beneath Pilot’s control panel. Despite the fact that he is an animatronic, Pilot is incredibly emotive, sharing many poignant scenes with the other characters, especially Aeryn Sun. Episodes like season two’s spectacular “The Way We Weren’t” feature Pilot heavily, not shying away from his emotional growth, past trauma, or relationships. It’s a testament to the talent of the Creature Shop that as a viewer you can completely forget you’re watching an animatronic, and just emotionally invest in the character.

But it’s not just the Henson creatures that seem thoroughly alien. Virginia Hey, who played Zhaan, explained how she approached her character’s otherworldly nature: “I tried to limit Zhaan’s movements. I didn’t want to have any affectation of alien motion, just a serene stillness, which is not human-like at all.” Blue, bald, and beautiful, Zhaan was the soul of the show, an anarchist revolutionary turned priestess who was equal parts spiritual and terrifying. And although her stunning makeup was enough to convince us she wasn’t human, Hey took care to avoid any human reactions in her performance. “A human has the instinct of ‘fight or flight’ when any worrying stimulus comes their way, and adrenaline gates open, creating floods of stress. I tried to still that whole process, thereby making Zhaan non-human.”

Yet although Farscape’s dedication to being thoroughly alien made it stand out from other shows of the time (and, arguably, today), there was a key element that made it really special—as weird as things got, Farscape was an achingly human story.

A human reaction

Farscape was ultimately a character-driven series, a four-season exploration of who these people were, what broke them, and what brought them together. And as weird as Farscape’s characters are, they were all written and performed with incredible realism. For Hey (Zhaan), the linchpin of what made this character study so effective was the fact that they were criminals, thrust together with no chain of authority or captain to follow. “This created a fantastic tension and dynamic, an unlikely partnership between a band of the worst liars and murderers and scalawags in the universe who somehow grew to love and trust each other.”

Love, in fact, was the cornerstone of what made Farscape so outstanding. Unlike many other shows of the time that insistently kept their leads at arm’s length, the relationship between Crichton and ex-Peacekeeper Aeryn Sun was the beating heart of the show—which is what creator Rockne S O’Bannon always intended. “I wanted it to be the ultimate romance, the logline for the 1950s paperback novel that never will be: To find each other they had to traverse the entire galaxy,” he explained. With sparkling chemistry from their very first scene together, Crichton and Aeryn slowly developed a deep understanding and trust for one another that survived separation, war, and worse.

But although O’Bannon, Browder (Crichton), and Claudia Black (Aeryn) were all in agreement about the importance of the romance, that wasn’t to say that there weren’t some bumps in the road. “It was called Kirking Crichton,” Browder said. “I always fought that, every time a storyline would come down which was trying to make Crichton into [Star Trek’s Captain] Kirk. There were a couple of episodes where Crichton hooked up with someone, and I was like ‘no, no, no we’re not gonna do this—or better yet if you do it, there have to be repercussions’.”

For Browder, Aeryn was central to Crichton’s development. This made for a compelling relationship dynamic, one that is evident even without dialogue, in episodes like season three’s “Dog With Two Bones,” when Aeryn tosses a coin to decide whether she will stay aboard Moya. “Aeryn’s whole life is depending on this outcome,” said Black, “so she’s watching the coin. And Crichton never takes his eyes off her. He’s watching her the entire time. What a beautiful and exquisite way for Ben to tell that story.”

Interestingly, Browder revealed that it was Black who thought of tossing a coin. “That scene had been written and rewritten, and we started to shoot the rewritten scene but we stopped because it still wasn’t right.” Farscape’s creative process featured an “ebb and flow of ideas between departments,” as Browder called it, and this one scene stalled shooting for hours. “In the end, it was Claudia who came up with the idea of the coin toss. And the Creature Shop goes off and creates an alien coin for the shot.”

This improvised solution perfectly concludes one of Farscape’s most heartbreaking scenes, as Crichton and Aeryn are wrenched apart once again, only to reunite later in the show—which was true to O’Bannon’s aims in telling their story. “There’s a lot of friction between them, and obviously in life and death situations they have different opinions about how to best get out of it. But at the end of the day they’re truly be bonded together. They were soulmates that were not going to come apart.”

Farscape is often praised for subverting gender norms with Crichton and Aeryn, in how the man is communicative and emotionally intelligent, while the woman is the stoic soldier. But Black argued that it was the romance, above all else, that went beyond stereotypical roles. “That’s the silent version of ‘you can be more.’ Ben wanted to express masculinity in a way that had value to him, and that was very deeply reflected in the way the relationship progressed on screen.”

And ultimately, that’s the secret to why Farscape’s romance is so beloved by fans: It’s a genuine loving relationship. For Black, it was crucial to represent this kind of relationship. “Ben and I wanted to tell stories that would be a more healthy representation of what’s possible. Otherwise, if we stuck with the [William] Shatner model we would have perpetuated a story that I don’t think has much value, for women especially, but for men as well.” By exploring this romantic relationship over the course of many years, Farscape proved once and for all that putting the two leads together isn’t the end of the story—it’s the beginning.

The wonders I’ve seen

With its long term romance, serialized storytelling, frank depiction of sexuality, and generally adventurous approach to sci-fi, it’s clear that Farscape stands out —but this oft-forgotten show also made a quiet but significant impact on the industry, even just in terms of its tone.

This is something that Brian Henson has noticed in the years since Farscape went off the air, as sci-fi has gone from being reserved and grounded to being more wild and wonderful—current shows like Legends of Tomorrow and Killjoys often “turn the emotion up to 11,” and the Davies era of Doctor Who featured the kind of bizarre aliens that would populate Farscape’s universe. Above all, this is why Henson considers Farscape to be the project he’s most proud of.

“How we approached science fiction took off like wildfire,” he told io9. “When I saw Chris Pine in Star Trek [2009], I was like ‘wait a second he’s John Crichton, he’s gone to that wilder unpredictable place’. But Star Trek never used to go there.”

More than any other piece of media, Guardians of the Galaxy proves the show’s legacy—as the film features a gang of criminals lead by a pop-culture obsessed human who found himself on the other side of the galaxy, it’s easy to spot parallels with Farscape. “Man, I felt like someone went through my underwear drawer, you know,” Browder says of his experience watching the first film. As a huge fan of Farscape, Gunn was eager to include Browder in the sequel, and enthused about how much he was influenced by the show. “He went ‘yeah I totally stole your stuff!’ and promised to put me in the next one.”

Criminals? Check. One human? Check.
Image: Marvel

Farscape’s impact isn’t limited to sci-fi storytelling, however, and arguably its greatest legacy is in the visual effects business, especially in Australia. Anthony Simcoe, who spent hours in makeup each day to be transformed into D’Argo, told io9 how much Farscape benefited the industry. “It was such a consistent source of that type of work. If you were working in prosthetics for example, you wouldn’t have had that platform otherwise, or the years of experience of creating creatures like D’Argo,” he said. “The crew from that production are now the leaders in the industry across all those departments.”

Farscape’s visual effects teams were among the best in the business, and many have found meteoric success after the show, like Damian Martin, makeup artist extraordinaire who won an Academy Award in 2016 for his work on Mad Max: Fury Road—and who honed his skills as Simcoe’s makeup artist on Farscape. But Farscape’s visual effects weren’t limited to puppetry and prosthetics. Much of the CGI was done by Animal Logic, a Sydney-based digital studio. When watching Farscape today, the CG is so good that it’s easy to forget Farscape is two decades old—so it should come as no surprise that Animal Logic has gone on to be something of a titan in the CG industry, producing effects for films like The Lego Movie, Happy Feet, Alien: Covenant, and multiple Marvel movies.

For Simcoe, this is a source of great joy: “It’s very rewarding and heartwarming thing to see those amazing talents that were developed on Farscape and grew there, and are now contributing to storytelling around the world.”

Somewhere over the wormhole…

Although it may not have been a crossover hit like Battlestar Galactica, or reached the pop culture consciousness level of Star Trek, Farscape was nonetheless a spectacular show, a testament to just how daring you can be with sci-fi.

This is a sentiment that has really taken off, and in the wake of Guardians of the Galaxy, space operas are painted with brighter colors, starting to really embrace the weirdness of sci-fi, as Farscape’s impact continues to ripple outward. And with the series returning to streaming, a new generation will get the chance to discover this bizarre, thrilling show, forged by dozens of talented, passionate people from different creative backgrounds.

“We were witnessing and participating in something groundbreaking,” Claudia Black reminisced. “We were constantly in an environment where we were allowed to bend everything. And that’s very special.”


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Source: Kotaku.com

Holy Rocket Raccoon! James Gunn Is Back on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 [Updated]

Gunn directing Michael Rooker on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Photo: Disney/Marvel Studios

Months after a manufactured controversy about crude tweets saw Disney eject Gunn from the third movie in his Marvel cosmic series, Marvel Studios has confirmed that, shockingly, the director will return after all.

Deadline reports that Gunn and Marvel have now confirmed that he will helm production on the third Guardians movie, and that the actual decision made to re-hire Gunn—brought about by Gunn’s apology over his prior tweets and through extensive talks between the director and Walt Disney Studios president Alan Horn—occurred months ago, despite allegations at the time that Disney was still not ready to bring the director back on board. io9 has confirmed with Disney that the details of Deadline’s report are accurate.

Gunn was removed from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in July of last year, after right-wing commentators resurfaced years-old crude commentary Gunn had made on social media, targeting the director for his outspoken disapproval of Donald Trump as part of what became a pattern of bad-faith harassment campaigns by internet trolls over the last year. Gunn immediately apologized for the tweets, but at the time, the apology was not enough for Disney.

Furor from both fans and members of Guardians cast in the months that followed lead to production on the third movie in the saga—always rumored to be Gunn’s last with the current iteration of the cosmic superhero team that first ventured out in 2014’s surprise smash hit movie—being put on hold, allegedly while a replacement for Gunn was sought out.

According to Deadline however, Marvel never actually met with another director for Guardians, despite rumors that Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi or Ant-Man’s Adam McKay could step in. Although complications arose when Gunn was snapped up by Warner Bros. to write and direct the DC Comics sequel The Suicide Squad last October, Kevin Feige’s team at Marvel Studio and Horn’s at Disney were willing to wait for Gunn to become available again before bringing him back to the fold.

Production on Guardians for Gunn will begin after production has concluded on The Suicide Squad, which is currently expected to hit theaters in August 2021.

Update: James Gunn has now weighed in, with his first tweet since July 19, 2018.

I am tremendously grateful to every person out there who has supported me over the past few months. I am always learning and will continue to work at being the best human being I can be. I deeply appreciate Disney’s decision and I am excited to continue making films that investigate the ties of love that bind us all. I have been, and continue to be incredibly humbled by your love and support. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Love to you all.

Correction: A previous version of this article credited Adam McKay to Ant-Man and the Wasp. McKay wrote the script to the first film, Ant-Man, while Paul Rudd and Chris McKenna wrote the sequel’s. io9 regrets the error.


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Source: Kotaku.com