Disney+ Cancels Muppets Series (And More!)

Amidst all the good news about the upcoming Disney+ streaming platform, and its almost endless catalog of movies from Disney animation, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic, thousands of episodes from Disney Channel TV shows, and its (mostly) new,  original content, there’s still some bad news. And, partially because it’s newsworthy, and partially because I’m still bitter at Disney+ for making me use the + symbol (why am I still mad about that?), we’re going to discuss the not-so-great headlines that last night began plaguing the Mouse House. It’s not just about Muppets, I can assure you.

However, the Muppets are the most important part of the equation, so we’ll talk about them first: Disney has officially chosen to scrap an idea for a Muppets comedy series posed to them by Josh Gad, star of Frozen and its upcoming sequel, Frozen 2. The project, titled Muppets Live Another Day, would have been a sequel to the 1984 hit, The Muppets Take Manhattan, taking place soon after the events of that film. Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis had already been brought onboard to help Gad write and produce the series: apparently, creative differences with Disney executives forced the three showrunners to leave – but now, instead of doing anything with the property, Disney+ has chosen to throw out the idea entirely. We don’t know anything about the disagreements that caused the rift, or whether this is because of Disney’s decision, announced recently at the D23 Expo, to reboot Jim Henson’s The Muppet Show: perhaps two would have been too much Muppet material for the streaming service? Either way, this does make one wonder whether Josh Gad will run into this problem again as he sets out to produce a live-action remake of Disney’s The Hunchback Of Notre-Dame – it’s not easy being Olaf.

At the same time, a smaller bombshell dropped: Disney has scrapped a comedy series titled Four Dads, which would have been their first property focused on LGBTQ characters – while this story hasn’t been making the rounds as much as the Muppets, it’s potentially more devastating. Disney’s commitment to diversity, and especially LGBTQ representation, is still weak: while a Love, Simon spinoff series based on the gay romance film of the same name is coming to Disney+, it is rumored to be significantly different from the film. And as for gay characters in Disney films, they’re few and far between (and when they do show up, they’re stereotypes: next year’s Jungle Cruise will mark the appearance of Disney’s first officially out gay character, portrayed by a straight actor – the character is rumored to be very campy, effeminate, and played for laughs: great work, Disney).

These aren’t the first Disney+ shows to get tossed in the trash. Back in August, it was reported that Book Of Enchantment, a series about the origins of iconic Disney villains such as Ursula, Maleficent, The Beast, and The Wicked Queen, was scrapped because the studio felt it was too dark, even after significant rewrites by Jason Reed, who apparently tried unsuccessfully to insert more humor into the show’s scripts. Personally, that whole idea sounded really cool, so I’m not forgiving Disney for this one – even if they do feel like Disney+ should be squeaky-clean: I mean, seriously, how dark could it have been?

The three cancellations may not have much in common, but it certainly looks like Disney has a very clear picture of what their streaming service should be: whether it’s a good picture is hard to tell. Will we end up missing these shows in the long run? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Marvel’s “Hawkeye” Aims To Cast Hailee Steinfeld!

Marvel Studios’ upcoming Disney+ series, Hawkeye, centered on the post-Endgame adventures of the former Avenger and expert marksman, has apparently just scored another win, mere days after landing Mad Men screenwriter Jonathan Igla.

Singer and actress Hailee Steinfeld, the Oscar-nominated star of True Grit and Bumblebee, is apparently in early talks to star alongside Jeremy Renner in the miniseries, as Hawkeye’s young apprentice Kate Bishop, a crucial member of the Young Avengers. Kate Bishop, an expert archer, fencer, and strategist, has long been rumored to make her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Hawkeye, but this confirmation is an exciting stepping-stone on the path toward having the Young Avengers team finally assembled in the MCU – with other Disney+ shows like WandaVision, Ms. Marvel and Loki also possibly hinting at the gang of teen superheroes, it sounds like the family-friendly streaming service could eventually be home to the team: which, honestly, seems like a great fit. Though, considering that Steinfeld is twenty-two years old already, this makes it look like Marvel’s casting choices for the Young Avengers will be skewing slightly older than expected.

We don’t really know anything about the plot of Hawkeye, or how much of it will be about Jeremy Renner’s iteration of the character versus Steinfeld’s fresher, younger take. But a quick look at Kate Bishop’s character bio opens some interesting possibilities for potential plot points: in the comics, Bishop has also donned the nickname “Hawkingbird” because she stitched her own outfit together from bits and pieces of Hawkeye’s attire, as well as that of another hero, Mockingbird, a.k.a. Bobbi Morse. Morse has already shown up elsewhere in Marvel, on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., played by Adrianne Palicki – while both she and her partner, Lance Hunter, were forced to retire from the S.H.I.E.L.D. team early on, both characters are still very much alive in the MCU – and in fact, almost got their own spinoff series on  ABC, which was cancelled before airing a pilot. Palicki would probably be willing to work with Marvel again on the Hawkeye series, and her character, displaying super strength, agility and martial arts prowess, seems like a good fit for this mostly powered-down group of civilian heroes: plus, the retired agent would probably have a lot in common with Hawkeye himself, who notoriously left the main Avengers team to be with his family.

So what do you think about the casting? Is Hailee Steinfeld a good fit for archer-extraordinaire Kate Bishop? Could this be an opportunity to have Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. crossover with the main MCU? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

D23 MCU Concept Art!

If you weren’t previously hyped for Marvel’s multitude of newly announced Disney+ content, prepare to be. We have a lot to discuss.

Over the weekend, Disney Studios sated the appetites of rabid fans at their D23 Expo with some exclusive reveals, including brief footage, concept art, and official posters for some upcoming projects. But now the public can share in the fun, as some of this stuff, specifically the concept art and posters, are being released. And we, being ravenous fans with a desire to nitpick and study every inch of new material, are going through this stuff with a fine-toothed comb, looking for clues.

The first official poster for The Falcon And The Winter Soldier dropped earlier today, sparking a heated discussion about the most trivial of subjects. Yes, Bucky Barnes, whose gloriously long hair has been a trademark of the character’s appearance since 2013, has finally visited a barber, it seems. Either that, or the graphic designer made a huge blunder by choosing to use 1940’s Bucky as a reference for this poster, rather than modern, stylish-Jesus Bucky.

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Apart from Bucky’s new haircut, we can see that the Winter Soldier is donning a slightly new, streamlined outfit, as well as his vibranium arm (which still hasn’t seen any real action: here’s hoping we get to see some epic metal-arm fight scenes in the show). Falcon, who was entrusted with Captain America’s shield in Avengers: Endgame, is…not holding the shield, for whatever reason, and is also positioned behind Bucky, looking more like a supporting character than the lead. Perhaps both men are leads, but it does seem a little unusual to place the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s new shield-bearer in the background. Then again, he does also show up in the top right-corner of the poster, flying across the sky, looking very much like a patriotic fighter-plane. In fact, the poster does seem to be going for a “war-movie” vibe – the pale watercolor sky, the ever-so-slightly antiquated heroic poses from Bucky and Falcon, the red, white and blue logo: it looks almost 1940’s to me – but again, considering that Falcon isn’t a time-displaced character like Bucky, that choice seems peculiar. Who’s the lead on this show, really?

Speaking of old-fashioned stylistic choices, though, the first official concept art/poster for the WandaVision series is blatantly dated: and both lead actress Elizabeth Olsen and Marvel president Kevin Feige have said as much. The show is said to have a retro, 1950’s sitcom style – at first, this seemed like it might have just been a creative reference for the showrunners to draw on, but this art suggests that the entire series will, in fact, look and feel like I Love Lucy, combined with idealized, bright and sunny ads ripped from the pages of an old Sears catalog.

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It’s an even more peculiar stylistic choice than that on the previous poster, because neither Wanda Maximoff nor her (currently deceased) partner Vision have any real connection to the 1950’s. Yet here they are, dressed in period-appropriate fashion and sporting upper-class bemused smiles, surrounded by the accouterments of a typical “nuclear family”.

Wanda, the Scarlet Witch, has some untapped potential in the MCU that could explain this perplexing choice – in the comics, she has the ability to warp reality and create entire “pocket dimensions” that exist alongside our own. In such a faux reality, Wanda could presumably resurrect her dead lover and create a perfect, cheery little family for herself in a quaint little suburb: according to reports from D23, Wanda and Vision will have a nosy next-door neighbor, played by Kathryn Hahn, and a bunch of other comedic castmates – including the Thor franchise’s underdog Darcy, and Agent Jimmy Woo. Another sign that Scarlet Witch will use more comics-accurate powers in the new series is a hint, in this poster, of her more comics-accurate costume: Wanda’s shadow, in the top left-hand corner, sports her traditional crescent-moon tiara, something that hasn’t appeared in the MCU as of yet. Fans have been dying to see it on Elizabeth Olsen’s brow, and this poster gives me hope that we will.

Don’t expect WandaVision to be all canned laughter and sunshine, though – the series is rumored to head into dark, even macabre or paranormal territory, which makes sense, considering that it will always lead directly into the events of Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, which is being hyped up as Marvel’s first horror film.

What do you think of the new concept art? Does it look cool, or outdated? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

“Lady And The Tramp” Trailer!

Am I actually interested in this?

It’s kind of hard to tell from this brief, beautiful teaser trailer, whether I am. The dogs are cute and fluffy, the story is cute and fluffy, the atmosphere and setting are cute and…well, you get the idea. It’s a very romantic movie, obviously, and it looks small-scale, intimate, and devastatingly adorable. But that’s not a combination that automatically appeals to me, so I’ll have to see where I net out on this one.

The music, provided by star Tessa Thompson’s real-life partner Janelle Monae, is quite lovely. The 1950’s setting overall is rather charming, it’s just not quite enough to make me thoroughly invested in a literal puppy-love story.

Tessa Thompson’s Lady, and Justin Theroux’ Tramp, are lovingly rendered in CGI, and look like perfectly natural animals up until the very last scene of the trailer, where Lady’s eyes look way too big, too human, almost. I can even get past that, though, because the dogs are, for the most part, pretty darn cute. Even Sam Elliott. Which is a very weird sentence to write.

So I guess we’ll see. It certainly doesn’t look bad by any means, just not exactly my cup of tea – or, plate of spaghetti. Lady And The Tramp arrives on Disney+ on launch date, November 12th. Do you plan on watching it? Would it convince you to purchase the Disney+ bundle, or does it look like just an added bonus? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 6/10

“The Mandalorian” Trailer!

In the first trailer for Jon Favreau’s original Disney+ series, The Mandalorian, Star Wars goes dark, gritty and mature, alien mercenaries engage in some brutal space warfare, and, most shockingly, storm troopers finally learn how to fire a gun properly!

There’s not a whole lot to actually discuss, but that’s perhaps the beauty of this trailer: it’s simple, hauntingly so. We’re only treated to two lines of dialogue, but the music and atmosphere are allowed to say more than words ever could. Set in an era between the original Star Wars trilogy and Disney’s series of sequels, the Disney+ show will follow a Mandalorian mercenary (who, apparently, isn’t Boba Fett? I haven’t been paying attention) somewhere on the “outer reaches of the galaxy”, where the war between the New Republic and the First Order is only a distant rumor – yeah, right. Give it a few episodes, watch how fast we start seeing characters from the sequels show up. Not that I’m complaining. Have I mentioned that I finally got around to watching The Last Jedi? It’s a pretty good movie.

As someone who’s still reacquainting myself with the trappings of this topsy-turvy franchise, I have to admit: this catches my interest. Maybe it’s just because I’m still susceptible to stories about space gangsters and pirates. I don’t really know, but it looks good. It gives me hope that this whole Disney+ venture isn’t a disaster: in fact, it might be a worthy competitor to Netflix and HBO Max in the near future.

And as for Pedro Pascal, the show’s lead, well, he doesn’t actually appear from underneath his helmet and armor in the trailer, and he doesn’t even speak either line of dialogue, so…I don’t really know what to expect from him. He looks menacing – or, rather, his armor does. Pascal himself still looks like the lovable, tragically doomed Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones to me.

The first episode of The Mandalorian is set to arrive on Disney+ on release day, November 12th, so that’s something to look forward to. Mark your calendars, folks! How do you feel about the trailer? Do the grittier aspects of Star Wars appeal to you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 8/10