Tag Archives: polygon

Spider-Man director on bringing back a major character in the post-credits scene

Spider-Man: Far From Home is a wealth of riches, with a painfully sweet story, bombastic action, and so many Easter eggs it’ll make your head spin.

Chief among those earned moments of fan service is a cameo so incredible that the entire theater I was in burst into screaming, and I fully blacked out in sheer delight. If you’ve already seen the film, we’ve got good news: Polygon sat down with director Jon Watts to discuss just how the cameo came to be. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I highly recommend turning back now, and leaving at least this bit of wonder unspoiled. It’s too good to experience any way but firsthand.

[Ed. note: Spoilers for Spider-Man: Far From Home follow.]

spider-man: far from home - nick fury
Nick Fury (me) explaining to Peter Parker (you) why you shouldn’t spoil yourself for this particular scene.
Marvel Studios

As we learn in Spider-Man: Far From Home’s first post-credit scene, Mysterio used his dying breath to create a video of Spider-Man seemingly murdering him and orchestrating the drone strike that takes out a good chunk of London. More importantly, Mysterio has also passed along Spider-Man’s secret identity — to none other than The Daily Bugle’s J. Jonah Jameson, played by Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons.

His appearance is something of a shock, not only because of the possible multiverse implications but because it’s J.K. Simmons, who played the role in Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy. If anything, the MCU has been in the business of replacing actors, from Terrence Howard to Edward Norton, and acting like nothing happened. An actor repeating his performance across universes is unprecedented, but if there’s anyone who deserves to carry that kind of mantle, it’s J.K. Simmons.

“We thought if we’re going to have J. Jonah Jameson, it had to be J.K. Simmons,” Watts said, as to the decision to bring Simmons back. “There was never any discussion about it being anyone else because it just wouldn’t have felt right.”

J.K. Simmons, looking angry, as J. Jonah Jameson.
An iconic actor in an iconic performance.
Sony Pictures

As for exactly why the news mogul — now something of a YouTube shock jock — is in the new movie at all, Jameson’s reappearance was inevitable when it came to revealing Spider-Man’s alter ego.

“We always knew we wanted Spider-Man’s identity to be revealed and it felt like it had to be on some sort of news outlet,” Watts explained. “And then you start talking about, ‘Well, what is the main news outlet in Spider-Man’s world?’ And it’s always been The Daily Bugle. And when you start talking about The Daily Bugle, you start talking about J. Jonah Jameson.”

As Watts also pointed out, Simmons’ performance “isn’t dramatically different from what it was like in the Raimi films.” Rather, the fact that the Far From Home J. Jonah Jameson feels like a different character stems from how the world has changed in between now and then — and, undeniably, a more severe look.

Hopefully this means we’ll see a lot more of the newsman in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s a lot to love about Sam Raimi’s unimpeachably great Spider-Man trilogy (yes, even Spider-Man 3; no, do not at me about it), but chief among those things is J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, and it’s easy to imagine the kind of future he’ll have in the larger MCU.

I would die for J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson. I love watching him yell. I would happily let him yell at me, even though I am terrified of yelling and cannot stop myself from crying when yelling occurs. I would watch an entire series of movies just about J. Jonah Jameson. I would marry him, and take care of all of his blood pressure medication. J. Jonah Jameson, turn on your location, no matter which multiverse you may be in.

Source: Polygon.com

Meet more characters for One Punch Man’s fighting game

I thought it couldn’t get more bananas than Dragon Ball FighterZ, and then we got Jump Force. I thought that was the limit of Bandai Namco’s appetite for wild fighting game adaptations of over-the-top anime, completely forgetting about the existence of One Punch Man.

How Bandai Namco continues this bonkers trend after One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows, I’ll leave that to the more animé-aware among us. The game was announced last week, https://www.polygon.com/2019/6/25/18756260/one-punch-man-fighting-game-ps4-xbox-one-pc and Bandai Namco followed that up from Anime Expo with this character trailer yesterday. It is outstanding, daaaaaaaaaaaaammittttt!

Forgive my easily amused nature, I don’t watch the show, I’ve only been ephemerally aware of it since the TV series got going about four years ago. Saitama faces a delightful rogues’ gallery of foes, among them Vaccine Man, Mosquito Girl, Carnage Kabuto and Deep Sea King. This is like when my best friend and I would get bored and start rolling random character sheets in the Marvel Super Heroes RPG, with the ne plus ultra of that being a hero who is bored by the fact his single punch has no worthy adversary.

We’re promised that the throwdowns in One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows will feature more than one titular punch — I guess? Depends on who you are talking about. This jittery trailer moves so fast it’s hard for me to tell, but it looks like One Punch Man just stands there getting rope-a-doped like Ali vs. Foreman until it’s time for Vaccine Man to catch the hand(s).

One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows’ bizarre suitability for (or unsuitability to) the fighting game genre was perhaps summed up by this YouTube comment: “Imagine if they have patch notes and one reads: ‘Saitama nerfed.’”

Still no launch date, other than “coming soon,” for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. It’s a Spike Chunsoft joint (they did Jump Force).

Source: Polygon.com

Inside Empyrean, Warframe’s most ambitious expansion yet

Digital Extremes is aware that, technically speaking, Empyrean is an expansion, but they don’t want you to call the upcoming content release that. For many games, including Warframe’s previous expansions, an expansion pack takes the player to a whole new area of the world — a ship in a bottle, isolated from previous content.

Empyrean does have new content, but Digital Extremes links it to Warframe’s existing world. There is no new headline locale; instead, the star features of Empyrean are more subtle. From a giant, customizable spaceship to a Shadow of Mordor-style nemeses, to under-the-hood upgrades, Digital Extremes has taken the opportunity to overhaul many of the weaker parts of Warframe.

All aboard! It’s spaceship time!

The first thing, and potentially the most important, is that players are getting a spaceship. The Railjack was teased at Tennocon 2018, and again at E3, but today we got to see exactly how this vessel works. The Railjack is inspired by FTL: Faster Than Light, the roguelike spaceship management game by Subset Games.

Players will be able to collect crew members, upgrade and reinforce their ship, and enjoy little interactions around the ship. Some of these are just a wave, others are a little more detailed. These crew members fall short of, say, the cast of a BioWare game, but they give a little bit of zest and individuality to a player’s ship.

Digital Extremes

Players also get to upgrade the ship itself. At launch, the person who owns the session controls the ship’s cosmetics and upgrades. Players not in a party can customize their Railjack to their heart’s content. This is designed as end-game content, but lower level players can help out with Railjack missions as part of the team, and they’ll earn resources that can go towards their ship. Excess resources are converted into Railjack mission bonuses, ensuring that the wheel of content is always spinning and distributing something useful.

The Railjack is also capable of some stunning feats. Something technically possible, if logistically challenging, is the ability to splice a ship, The Last Jedi-style, with your fast travel through the Void.

Despite these highs, the stakes are relatively low on the Railjack; a mission failure returns the player to the safety of their dock in the player dojo. The Railjack, in its slower missions, allow players to explore existing areas and find hard-to-reach places and secrets. But the active missions made me sit up and pay attention. The Railjack is a set of fun systems, but it’s where it takes us that really matters.

Digital Extremes

Space battles for fun and profit

The early stages of flight aboard the Railjack were humble. We saw a crew maneuver through debris, carefully twisting its Railjack around meteors and occasionally clearing a path with heavy weaponry. The players discovered a lost vessel. Two went aboard to check its archives, while the Railjack’s pilot stayed aboard and provided fire support. In many ways, this example was like a standard Warframe mission, but the format was novel, and the addition of air support added a fun twist.

The next mission really showed Warframe at its best. The mission, according to the developers, draws direct inspiration from Return of the Jedi. Independent stories, from different co-op squads, merged into a brief confluence of shared goals. We saw players attack a Grineer fleet. Players launched onto enemy ships, while the pilot maintained evasive maneuvers and fired upon enemies. Then, the boarding parties were able to hijack ships by assassinating priority targets, and turn Grineer ships against their enemies.

The flagship was prepared for such treachery, and the game warned that a shield has gone up. Shifting focus, we were introduced to a completely unrelated group of players fishing peacefully upon the Plains of Eidolon. They received a prompt that a squad needed help, they answered the call and started a ground assault on the shield generator. The players in space stayed alive, fighting off Grineer ships long enough for the ground force to succeed. That opened up the flagship and final boss.

There are failsafes built in, if no one answers your call for help. No mission is impossible. But this form of co-op was a blast to watch unfold, and it adds to the powerful sense of community that binds Warframe together. This mission felt like one of the epic battles from EVE Online, run through a Hollywood filter to play out in a manner as fun, frantic, and far reaching as possible.

A bolder kind of boss

The Shadow of Mordor Nemesis system was a game-changer, and we’ve seen other titles adapt that persistent enemy type who remembers you from past encounters. Warframe now has their own nemesis for players to encounter again (and again), and he is as extra as the rest of the game.

The bad boy in question is a Kuva Lich. This enemy dies, and returns, again and again. His body has Warframe parts fused into his flesh. The player will have to find a permanent solution to end him, but that’s tough, because he’s hunting us down. That’s quite literal; we learned that the Kuva Lich will show up in unrelated missions looking for a fight. (He won’t show up in wildly unrelated story content, to preserve that narrative thread.) Each iteration of the Kuva Lich comes back stronger, so that’s quite a threat.

The Kuva Lich is unique to each player to a degree; he remembers your actions and the ways you’ve killed him before. Instead of pre-fight, end-mission dialogue, the Lich is far chattier, and he’ll bring up your favorite weapons, tactics you’ve employed before, and other personalized jabs about your shared history.

Empyrean offers a sweeping set of content and changes to Warframe that are immediately appealing and intriguing. If the execution is as solid as the demo we saw at Tennocon, this will add a whole new way to play Warframe, with lots of upgrades and iterations to dig through. We also saw graphical improvements that are part of a Warframe engine upgrade for the next generation, which had real-time shadows, better reflections, and smoothing of flight visuals.

In some way, it seems as though the design and lore of Warframe is locked into an arms race with itself to top its last feats. New content is increasingly dense, and complex, but also extra and undeniably cool. An enemy like a chemically altered, undying blood lich with your past mech suits fused with his flesh is a lot, conceptually. and Digital Extremes only sells it by remaining completely committed to the off-the-rails, wild sci-fi nature of their universe. Empyrean doubles down on all of the scope, touchstones, and wild aspects of Warframe.

Source: Polygon.com

5 things to know from Tennocon, the Warframe fan con

There’s BlizzCon, GuardianCon, QuakeCon, and dozens more conventions celebrating a specific game or its community. Players who are into the free-to-play loot shooter Warframe have Tennocon. This conference in London, Ontario, is relatively small compared to bigger celebrations from more prominent studios. That said, much like Warframe, the convention was packed full of surprises and gave a detailed look at what’s coming in 2019 and beyond. Here are the biggest announcements.

Empyrean expansion

The next expansion coming to Warframe isn’t an expansion in the traditional sense. Instead of a new, isolated environment, Empyrean is an expansion built with existing game worlds and systems. A new player-owned and customized spaceship, the Railjack, serves as the vehicle to explore new parts of old worlds, and engage in massive fleet battles against old enemies. We break down the Tennocon demo, and what players can expect, in this piece. Needless to say, this is the star announcement of Tennocon, and it holds a lot of promise.

The Duviri Paradox

A big part of Warframe is mowing down countless enemies, and we’re about to get a new flavor of bad guy. The Duviri Paradox introduces the newest enemy faction, the Planes of Duviri. We get to see equine mounts, a monochrome world, a space dragon, and weird, unnerving tech. This trailer gives us a strong idea of what to expect thematically from the Duviri, even if we aren’t sure how exactly they’ll shake out in Warframe’s story.

The New War

Warframe players are engaged in the story of their characters and progression, and the upcoming chapter in that tale is called The New War. The New War’s trailer is a stylish glimpse at upcoming content. This narrative chapter is meant to expand the world of Warframe and provide lots of lore for fans. We can expect this narrative chapter to precede Empyrean in the release schedule, and to arrive for Christmas 2019.

Nightwave Series 2

Warframe is getting another battle pass style system of unlocks with the second Nightwave Series. These otherworldly unlocks include a new, flesh-and-bone textured, purple and gold longsword skin, a similarly creepy shoulderpad, the Emissary Operator set and sigil, and other goodies that players can keep on their ship. NIghtwave Series 2 launches tonight on all platforms.

Go to … outer space?

No, not the outer space of Warframe. Digital Extremes is actually holding a contest where they will contribute $250,000 toward sending a fan to space. Actual outer space. This is pretty wild. BioWare launched copies of Mass Effect 3 into space, but Digital Extremes is offering the chance for fans to go up there instead, which is a power move. The contest closes at the end of 2019, and playing Warframe is enough to join the running.

Tennocon also had a series of smaller treats, including the reveal of a new Wukong Prime Warframe that draws inspiration from the mythical monkey king, and a series of statues, escape room experiences, and cosplays out on the convention floor. Warframe remains a weird, dense game, but Tennocon is a good example of how it has cultivated such a passionate fanbase. This year’s selection of content is intriguing, and it may raise Warframe’s star through the rest of 2019 and into 2020.

Source: Polygon.com

Warframe kicks off new player experience overhaul with Hollywood cinematic

While larger loot shooters went through growing pains, Warframe confidently sailed through 2019. The game is often overlooked in the cultural zeitgeist, but there’s no denying its dedicated fanbase. One of the biggest barriers the game currently has is its overwhelming depth, in both gameplay and lore.

Developer Digital Extremes is aware of this, and they’re working on cleaning up the new player experience and make the world more accessible. The first step in this process is a cinematic, directed by 10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Trachtenberg.

The cinematic shows the first three possible Warframes players can acquire in action, and has some hints as to the world for veteran Warframe fans. (Don’t worry, we won’t spoil anything.) It’s surprisingly well done, capturing a decently accurate look at what it’s like to play Warframe while still serving as an introduction to the world players will encounter.

“The first script I showed the team was very long, and packed to the brim with way more,” says Trachtenberg with a laugh. He had packed the cinematic with his favorite Warframe; he’s a fan himself, and asked Digital Extremes to work on the project with that in mind. “They very rightfully course corrected into introducing people to the three starting Frames. We decided to just use them, but still do the fun and cool action.”

Trachtenberg started playing Warframe while working on 10 Cloverfield Lane to keep up with friends, but he says he has continually returned to the game over the years. He, along with Digital Extremes, expect people to go through each freeze frame for nods to deep story details. Trachtenberg used the game’s Kurosawa influences in the cinematic as well, communicating intense and frantic action with slow, still interludes. Along with classic Japanese cinema, the team behind the cinematic pulled on Greek design and Star Wars to build the world.

The cinematic will reflect the new players starting experience. Right now, the game has a lonely start, with the Tenno working with the Lotus and their ship’s AI … but no real human contact. It’s not until reaching Earth that a sense of a real, human society really comes to the forefront. The new player experience will correct that, opening up near that burning village, with in-game story stakes to match the mood of the cinematic.

The character in the cinematic is also meant to influence the diverse mix of influences that goes into Warframe, as well as the large portion of female fans that love the game. Trachtenberg also notes that he admires the alien, inhuman designs of the Warframe — both male and female — and how feminine Warframes are equally “out there” as their male counterparts. It provides a rare visual opportunity, and at no point did Trachtenberg or animation studio Digic Pictures consider toning down the world of Warframe. Instead, the team wanted to capture the extreme visuals and make them feel realistic.

When it comes to pulling that feat off, Trachtenberg credits Hungarian studio Digic Pictures for their work and attention to detail. “We motion-capped everything. There’s almost nothing that wasn’t mo-capped. All of the movement felt like it could be done, because it really was being done, legitimately acting all the flips and slides and spins and weapon movements out in mo-cap. And our actress gave an incredible performance that we were only able to use a snippet of in the actual cinematic, but it was terrific and really grounded things.”

There will be more announcements to come regarding Warframe’s new player experience, as well as announcements relating to the future of Warframe. Today’s convention, Tennocon 2019, is due to deliver a set of surprises regarding end game content and progression.

Source: Polygon.com

NASCAR Heat 4 returns to answer more fans’ requests in September

Racing setups in video games all seem opaque to me. I know that, like a minute adjustment in a bowler’s slide or spin means a difference between the 180 everyone bowls and a league-quality 240, the right brake pressure or differential can turn my back-of-the-pack lap into a competitive one.

So it helps, more than any subreddit or setup guide, to have a NASCAR Cup Series champion on the phone when I need concrete pointers for my video game racing. P.R. for 704 Games put me in touch with Kevin Harvick (stock car racing’s 2014 champion) to talk about the upcoming NASCAR Heat 4, which launches in September and features him and his boss Tony Stewart on the cover. But what I really wanted to know was what I should be looking for in a race car during all those practice sessions I force myself to drive.

“Well, the [base] tire pressure is a little high in the game, and the wedge is a little high, too,” Harvick said, “those are two of the easier things to spot. I kind of feel like I already have an idea of where the car should be when I drive it. But the biggest thing is you definitely don’t want the understeer that is standard [to the base setup]. You need to loosen the car up.

“When my son gets into the game, we make it looser and turn better, because he wants to go flat out and [if they don’t] he’ll end up driving into the wall,” Harvick mused. “When we’re playing we turn it to light damage; you can kind of police yourself a little that way. But tire pressure and wedge [which will loosen the chassis and grip make it more responsive in cornering].”

Thus armed, I took his advice — to my F1 2019 season. Formula One cars don’t have wedge (but they do have rear suspension adjustments, which is what that is, generally), and tire pressure is a little different because those cars don’t drive counterclockwise for the whole race. But hey, Harvick’s advice still translates, and gives me something to fidget with purposefully when I feel like I have the turning radius of a destroyer — which is often.

Harvick genuinely sounded interested in helping another driver out. As a dad to a six-year-old, he’s constantly on that duty when his kid wants to race in the game. “We’ll go to Bristol one week, and the next day he’ll say to me, ‘Dad you want to run 15 [laps] at Bristol versus me?’” Harvick said, genuinely amused at the idea he was competing against his son, not the other way around. “He’ll tell you he thinks he can race because of this game,” Harvick said.

Hey, I get it, I think I can race because of these games, too, and I’m older than Harvick. The NASCAR Heat series has been something of a boutique product in sports video gaming, since Monster Games and and 704 resurrected the license in 2016. But where it has succeeded most is in its career mode iterations, which have steadily added features and things to do, like tuning a chassis around a very solid engine of gameplay and on-the-track action. Last year’s Heat 3 broadened the career mode into a kind of mogul setup, with the player able to perform driver/owner duties of racing in multiple series and developing and maintaining rides for them.

Harvick’s been there, owning a race team with entries in the Xfinity and Trucks series from 2004 to 2011. He now drives for Tony Stewart, who owns Eldora Speedway, the dirt track that’s appeared in NASCAR Heat since 2017. Dirt racing, in the form of the fictitious Xtreme Dirt Tour, will include the very real livery for Stewart’s No. 14 Late Model, according to a news release announcing NASCAR Heat 4’s September launch.

NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick on the cover of NASCAR Heat 4.
Kevin Harvick is the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion (now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series).
Monster Games/704 Games

In the same announcement 704 Games president Colin Smith said this year’s addition is again building off its players’ requests and suggestions, which drove a lot of the past two editions — trucks and split-screen racing in Heat 2, and the career revamps and dirt series from last year. “Over the years the NASCAR video game has built a large and passionate fan base, and when developing this game we made sure many of their voices were heard,” Smith said in the statement. “We have incorporated a number of features and improvements recommended by the NASCAR Heat community.”

That means players will be able to start their career driving in any of the four series (Xtreme Dirt, Camping World Trucks, Xfinity and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup) where in last year’s NASCAR Heat 3 they started on the lower rungs and worked their way up. That provided a realistic progression and more varied experience, particularly in career’s early goings, at the expense of a very long, somewhat grindy preamble to the bigtime.

NASCAR Heat 4 will also incorporate more granular, but noticeable details, like the Toyota Supra in the Xfinity Series and the night race at Martinsville (for offline racing only, until the 2020 season begins). There will also be different tire models for its track types, so drivers can get their scuffs or stickers on more suited to New Hampshire’s flat roller-skating rink or Charlotte’s super-high banked turns. Just remember to fool with the tire pressure, per Harvick’s advice, once you try out the new compounds.

704 did not mention a launch date more specific than the September window. It’ll return on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One, and it’s available for preorder right now.

Source: Polygon.com

Fortnite pro leaves team after accusations of racist vitriol

A Fortnite pro parted ways with his team following an argument with another pro that involved racist invective.

Erik “Bloodx” Guttormsen, of Norway, lost his seat with Eleven Gaming (E11) after the row with Ghost Gaming’s Issa “Issa” Rahim, a Swiss-born Iraqi, over the latter’s skill at playing without aim assist in Fortnite. Rahim posted to Twitter a video of himself playing without it, provoking a lot of guff in his mentions. Guttormsen joined the argument, and Rahim replied with a screenshot image of a Discord argument in which Guttormsen was shown using a racist slur.

Guttormsen yesterday accused Rahim of “intentionally try[ing] to ruin my name and career,” and denied he is racist, but nonetheless said he was leaving Eleven Gaming. Guttormsen said he did so “so this no longer negatively impacts anyone associated with me.”

“I will be fighting hard to put respect back into my name,” Guttormsen said. Two minutes later, E11 said it had parted ways with Guttormsen “effective immediately.”

Guttormsen’s only tournament appearance for E11 since joining in November was a 40th place in solos competition at the ESL’s Katowice Royale on March 1. He had been the eighth player to join the squad, formed by Zach Hyman, the NHL player who became chief executive of SoaR Gaming in March when that organization and E11 joined forces.

In unaffiliated play, Guttormsen’s best finishes have been second places in duos play in the EU Summer Skirmish series back in August, and at DreamHack Summer 2018. He most recently placed 41st in unaffiliated duos play with Kevin “Tohaj” Batic of Slovenia in Week 10 of the 2019 Fortnite World Cup.

Though Guttormsen’s supporters accused Rahim of faking the screenshot, which he denied, adding that Guttormsen repeatedly used the slur “in a call” and “so many pros” could verify that.

Source: Polygon.com

New Coke is the weirdest pop culture throwback in Stranger Things 3

Stranger Things 3 is extremely indulgent in several respects: there’s gratuitous gore, gratuitous romantic tension, and gratuitous … Coca-Cola product placement.

Specifically, a throwback product: New Coke. The formula change was originally launched in 1985 (the year in which Stranger Things 3 takes place) to mixed results. Today, the drink is considered to be a major marketing failure on the part of the Coca-Cola Company, and in turn, the product hasn’t been available for purchase for years.

Tapped into the 1980s pop culture space, Stranger Things 3 devotes a surprisingly significant amount of time to New Coke, whether it’s poking fun at the concept or using it as a throwback to previous events in the series. For those of us who weren’t cognizant enough in 1985 to “enjoy” New Coke, the cultural significance product will likely remain a bit of a mystery. Here’s the backstory, and how Stranger Things’ uses the drink to take a big gulp of pop nostalgia.

What is New Coke?

New Coke was a spin on the original Coca-Cola formula that was intended to pull the company out of a slump. In the heat of the beverage wars, the Coca-Cola Company was desperate: facing market losses in the face of rising Pepsi-Cola sales, the corporation was basically staying afloat by virtue of “pouring rights” agreements which ensured that Coke would be the only soda sold at particular venues or vending machines.

In a bid to get a leg up on Pepsi, Coca-Cola senior executives commissioned a project internally titled, “Project Kansas” after a widely-circulated promotional image of journalist William Allen White drinking a can of Coke. After testing the new flavor in focus groups, the result was surprisingly positive: many said that they enjoyed the new flavor (although it’d take some getting used to) while 10 to 12 percent absolutely hated it, saying that they may never buy Coke again should the formula change go through.

The product launched on April 23, 1985, and was met with moderate success — Coke sales increased eight percent from the same sales period the previous year, and response was positive from the general public. What went so horribly wrong? The deep South, basically.

Despite generally positive reception, a small but extremely vocal group of objectors — many of whom were from the Southeast United States — considered Coca-Cola to be a vital part of their regional identity and felt alienated by the new formula. The company was inundated with phone calls and letters complaining about the change, and eventually even hired a psychiatrist to listen in on calls. The psychiatrist described the way that certain individuals talked about New Coke as similar to how they would discuss the death of a family member.

Seventy-nine days after New Coke’s launch, the company announced that it would begin to produce the original formula once again. By the end of 1985, Classic Coca-Cola was outselling both New Coke and Pepsi. New Coke continued to be sold, and was eventually renamed “Coke II” in 1992. The product gradually left shelves until it was finally discontinued in 2002.

Despite the fact that New Coke was an overwhelming marketing failure, many suspect that the entire affair strengthened Coca-Cola’s original brand and further cemented its position within the broader American zeitgeist, particularly in its competition against Pepsi.

What role does New Coke play in Stranger Things 3?

New Coke pops up in Stranger Things 3 with mildly critical purpose, but also to woo viewers into picking up the notorious drink. Coca-Cola partnered with Netflix to resell New Coke in a “New Coke and Stranger Things 1985 Limited Edition Collector’s Pack.” It’s just two cans of New Coke and two bottles of Coke Coke and Coke Zero with Stranger Things labels, but yes, it’s back.

In episode 1, Karen Wheeler primly sips it out of a straw next to the pool while waiting for Billy, the hot lifeguard all of the Pool Moms are thirsting over. It’s nothing particularly consequential, but it does complement the striking atmosphere set by her elaborately curled hair, neon blue and purple eyeshadow, two tone swimsuit, and chunky necklace.

[Ed. note: The rest of this article contains spoilers for Stranger Things 3.]

A woman with bright blue and purple eyeshadow and curled hair in a swimsuit sits in a pool chair and drinks New Coke out of a straw. Netflix

Later in the season, Lucas and Mike have a heated debate about New Coke during a dangerous moment when they should be talking about pretty much anything else. It’s a prime example of this season’s absolutely off-the-walls comedic timing: while Eleven meditates in front of an open freezer of Eggos, Lucas cracks open a can of New Coke while the gang quietly sits in a circle. Mike disdainfully asks, “How do even drink that?” to which Lucas responds with a comparison. “It’s like Carpenter’s The Thing. The original is the classic, no question about it. But the remake … sweeter, bolder, better.” Hot take.

Punctuating the digression are several long, drawn out slurps. It’s incredibly indulgent and painfully funny given that each slurp is interspersed with cuts to Max, Will, Mike, Nancy, and Jonathan’s horrified faces.

The last New Coke appearance is brief, but more poignant than the others. While holed up in the mall, Eleven digs an empty can of New Coke out of the trash and places it on a ledge. Staring intently, she attempts to crush it using her telekinetic powers, but no dice: after the bite from the fleshy Mind Flayer monster, the can doesn’t budge. The sequence flashes back to Eleven’s days in the lab, where she was tasked with — and succeeded at — crushing a can of Coca-Cola using her mind. Through the power of parallel product integration, Stranger Things signals that Eleven’s powers are switched off, at least for the time being.

A young girl with a shaved head sits at a table in front of a crushed can of Coca-Cola.

A girl stands in a mall food court staring at a can of New Coke.
… and now.

Is New Coke … good?

We’re here to solve the biggest mystery of Stranger Things 3. As part of a round of promotion for the new season, Netflix sent Polygon two cans of New Coke. Much like the soda’s initial launch, the results were a mixed bag.

I don’t drink full-sugar Coke on the regular, so my perception may be a bit skewed. After getting a taste of both classic Coke and New Coke, I actually lean slightly towards the New Coke: while slightly sweeter, the taste was less acrid and I feel the same kind of gritty film that inhabits my mouth every time I drink more than a few sips of regular Coke. With a more muted attack and smoother texture, I preferred New Coke, and several others in the office concurred.

Ultimately, however, the implications are relatively meaningless. You can only buy New Coke in the limited-time Stranger Things/Coca-Cola store, which is something I’d only recommend to those whose curiosity will consume them otherwise. However, it is one of the more fun pop culture tie-ins in Stranger Things 3 — even for those for whom the 1980s are only a cultural impression rather than a memory.

Source: Polygon.com

The internet reacts to the surprise finale of the original Walking Dead

Polygon put a couple big finales on our list of Most Anticipated Comics of 2019, but it turns out we missed the biggest one: The Walking Dead. This week’s The Walking Dead #193 was the final comic in the series, a fact that writer Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard managed to keep a secret until the day of its release.

In order to disguise that the comic was coming to an end, Kirkman and Adlard arranged with Walking Dead publisher Image Comics to advertise three more issues, complete with cover art, to retailers. This created the illusion that the series would continue until at least The Walking Dead #196, and presumably longer.

“Personally … I hate knowing what’s coming,” Kirkman said in a letter at the end of The Walking Dead #193. “As a fan, I hate it when I realize I’m in the third act of a movie and the story is winding down. I hate that I can count commercial breaks and know I’m nearing the end of a TV show. I hate that you can feel when you’re getting to the end of a book, or a graphic novel […]

The Walking Dead has always been built on surprise. Not knowing what’s going to happen when you turn the page, who’s going to die, how they’re going to die … it’s been essential to the success of this series. It’s been the lifeblood that’s been keeping it going all these years, keeping people engaged. It just felt wrong and against the very nature of this series not to make the actual end as surprising as all the big deaths … from Shane all the way to Rick.”

The Walking Dead #1 hit shelves in 2003, and since then the series has bloomed into a true trans-media empire, spawning multiple TV shows, video games, and more. The comic may not have been as popular today as it once was, but was still a top seller for Image Comics, ranking in the top 30 best selling comics every month of 2019 so far.

So this is surprising, to say the least. But fans —on Reddit, at least — seem to be taking it well, though they differed on whether keeping it a secret enhanced or detracted from their enjoyment.

“While I wish the ending wasn’t a surprise,” Domand2002 shared (link contains spoilers), “and not exactly a fan of it ending around this time in the story (especially after what happened last issue) I definitely like how it ended. […] Wish it went on longer and we could still have this series continue for many more years but if it is it’s time to end, well I appreciate everything that went into The Walking Dead! This series was amazing, emotional, and awesome! Thank you Robert Kirkman! ”

However, the second most upvoted comment on r/TheWalkingDead’s official thread on The Walking Dead #193, from TheGent316, reads:

“I’ve gotta say that while I respect Kirkman’s intent I’m glad I got spoiled that this was going to be the last issue. If I spent the whole issue thinking this was an amazing set up to a whole new storyline I’d have been pissed when I saw “THE END” rather than just enjoying the story.”

Meanwhile, other folks were just having a good time with jokes about the surprise ending. From Jonathan Hickman, soon to be the writer on Marvel’s X-Men:

From Chip Zdarsky, writer of Spider-Man, Howard the Duck, and Jughead:

Others riffed off of a CNN tweet that mistakenly referred to The Walking Dead as a Marvel Comic:

See, the joke here is that a petition was drawn up to ask that Netflix cancel Good Omens, when Good Omens is actually an Amazon Prime show — so the Amazon Prime Video twitter account joked that it would “cancel” Netflix’s Stranger Things if Netflix canceled Good Omens — and Tom Taylor is writing the DC Comics zombie series DCeased.

Kirkman himself has not tweeted since the news hit. But in his final letter, he seemed positive, saying “Oddly, as unsure as I feel about ending the story, I feel confident in how I ended it. I’ve been building to this for years, and it does feel good to end on [Ed. note: We’ve omitted the end of this sentence to keep from spoiling you].”

You can read the entirety of Kirkman’s letter at The Hollywood Reporter (though the post contains some spoilers), or pick up a copy of The Walking Dead #193.

Source: Polygon.com

Why some people hate Spider-Man so much

The very first thing about J. Jonah Jameson that any comic reader knows is that he hates Spider-Man. The editor in chief of the Daily Bugle has virtually never rested from his mission of turning public opinion against the wall-crawler.

But, in the immortal words of Ryan Reynolds, “But why?”

With Spider-Man back in the conversation, we thought we’d revisit the nosy news-hound of a nuisance.

Why does J.J. Jameson, Jr. hate Spider-Man so dang much?

Spider-Man himself did once, briefly, offer an alternative explanation, in the pages of the 2004 She-Hulk series.

Spider-Man on the stand while suing J. Jonah Jameson for libel in She-Hulk #4, Marvel Comics (2004). Dan Slott, Juan Bobillo/Marvel Comics

But in this story — which predates the creation of Miles Morales — he was merely joking.

Overall, J. Jonah Jameson’s seething distaste for Spider-Man is based on principle and bad luck: Peter Parker is just at the center of the Venn diagram of “Something that Jameson hates” and “Someone unable to defend themselves.”

Jameson has found that railing against Spider-Man, with full page pictures of his dangerous antics, sells papers. And that keeps The Daily Bugle in the black, in the ever more precarious industry of print journalism.

J. Jonah Jameson in The Amazing Spider-Man #1, Marvel Comics (1963). Stan Lee, Steve Ditko/Marvel Comics

But Jameson also genuinely disdains superheroes. He thinks that superheroes — totally unregulated, dangerously powerful, grandstanding charmers — receive praise that’s better reserved for police, firefighters, EMTs, and other first response workers and military personnel. And, of course, he thinks it’s his duty as a newspaperman to tell the world.

Spider-Man is simultaneously one of the better known and most vulnerable superheroes in the Bugle’s hometown turf. The Avengers and Fantastic Four can afford to hire a good libel attorney — Peter Parker can’t. On top of that, defending himself from Jameson’s claims would, in most cases, require revealing his secret identity, putting his family in danger.

J. Jonah Jameson’s son made things personal

But in one of Spider-Man’s earliest adventures, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko made JJJ’s conflict with Spider-Man hit closer to home. The two introduced Jameson’s son, John Jameson III, as a top test pilot in the US space program, who, in a story written about a year after John Glenn’s first orbital flight, was flying a new experimental orbital capsule.

During the flight, the capsule’s guidance system went haywire (much like in Glenn’s historic trip) and the US military was powerless to save John Jameson and his craft. Enter Spider-Man, who stole a plane, flew up to the capsule, and attached a replacement guidance unit, allowing it to land safely.

You’d think that Spider-Man would have purchased some leeway with Jameson by saving his son’s life. But instead, Jameson doubled down, accusing Spider-Man of orchestrating the malfunction himself so that he could steal the spotlight from a true American hero like his son, John Jameson III.

J. Jonah Jameson in The Amazing Spider-Man #1, Marvel Comics (1963). Stan Lee, Steve Ditko/Marvel Comics

This isn’t the last the comics world saw of John Jameson. Like most civilian characters in a long-running comics universe, he eventually got his own powers and code name when he contracted lycanthropy from a weird ruby he found on the Moon, becoming the character Man-Wolf. According to writer Gerry Conway, who penned the whole ruby/moon/wolf thing, J. Jonah Jameson, Jr.’s hatred of Spider-Man was a significant factor.

“[Man-Wolf] added another layer of tension to Spider-Man’s relationship with J. Jonah Jameson,” he told Back Issue! magazine in 2010. “As a writer, you always want to find a way to increase the pressure on the main character, to increase the involvement of other characters with that character. Consequently, anything that could make Jonah’s hatred of Spider-Man more intense and at the same time more understandable was a useful device dramatically.”

And if you have to turn his son into a werewolf to do it, well, that’s comics, baby!

Source: Polygon.com