Kevin Feige Joins “Star Wars” Team!

What is Kevin Feige? What is he, that he can patiently build up 23 films worth of material, mash it all together (successfully, no less!) in the most ambitious crossover event ever, than outdo himself the very next year, wipe the board clean and start all over immediately afterwards, unveiling his genius plans for the next two years and implying that he already has the next five planned out in his head? How is it that this man can expand one of the biggest movie franchises in the world to include as many as 12 new properties (14 if you include Fantastic Four and X-Men, which he hasn’t even begun discussing yet), probably 8 films in total and 8 streaming shows, seemingly without any worry that he could risk over-extending Marvel Studios’ reach? How is it that he can lose one of his company’s most iconic characters to a rival studio in a bitter war between his superiors at Disney and Sony, without breaking a sweat?

How is it even humanly possible that he looks at everything he’s got on his plate right now, calmly, studiously examines everything, nods his head, and says: “You know what, let’s add a Star Wars movie to the mix”.

You heard that right: Star Wars. Kevin Feige, a lifelong fan of the Galaxy Far, Far Away, is joining the troubled franchise to work with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy on a new Star Wars movie.

From Kennedy’s point of view, this is probably both relieving and slightly nerve-wracking. Feige, with an entire decade of blockbusters behind him, will be a boost to the franchise, which has been going through some rough patches lately, with studio shakeups and audience backlash dominating the headlines: Star Wars is still a wildly successful property, but Kennedy needs it to outlast the Skywalker family, who will probably make their last appearances in this year’s The Rise Of Skywalker. However, her attempts to do so have been met with resistance, as some fans refuse to let go of the Skywalkers, or aren’t interested in the stories of Rey and Kylo Ren. Kennedy has a huge new wave of films she wants to roll out in the coming years, but so far her picks to produce and direct them have been so shocking, it almost seems like she’s intentionally courting controversy: Game Of Thrones‘ David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are working on an entire trilogy for the franchise, even after the disastrous final season of their hit TV show that basically turned an entire fandom against them; and Rian Johnson, who infamously directed The Last Jedi (a film I actually quite liked) and became so hated among the Star Wars fanbase that Kennedy didn’t even keep him around to develop the sequel, is also shaping up his own trilogy.

Feige, then, is a breath of fresh air in this crowded kitchen. The man is beloved by the Marvel fandom, widely recognized as a business-savvy genius with a keen understanding of PR as well as how to craft excellent stories, and has produced many of the highest-grossing films in history. He’s also a die-hard Star Wars fan, which means he’s not just being brought in to rescue the franchise, but actually has a good idea of what he’s getting into.

But while Kennedy has to be happy about all that (what with her current track record of hiring directors, she had better recognize a good thing when she’s got it), there still has to be some doubt in her mind: Kevin Feige is a presence that leaves a mark on whatever he touches – assuming his Star Wars project is a stand-alone, that might not be so bad, but what if he wants to direct more? Apparently, he has already approached a major actor that he’s worked with before to star in his Star Wars film, and that actor has expressed interest (the rumor is that it’s Brie Larson, star of Captain Marvel, and a huge fan of Star Wars). How much of it will, in fact, be his? Kennedy’s obviously not passing Lucasfilm onto Kevin Feige, but she has to be worried that her own legacy in the company will be overshadowed by Feige, especially if Disney sees that the results are favorable and decides to work with Feige again. Disney CEO Bob Iger has just recently gone on the record criticizing his company’s handling of the Star Wars situation, saying that they tried to do too much at once and rushed the process. Wow, Kennedy’s got to be thrilled about that assessment of her work. The last thing that Star Wars needs right now is more infighting, and Feige’s involvement could be the spark that lights the flames of war.

And as for Feige? Well, I can’t imagine how he’s going to balance all of his new projects, or if his move to Star Wars signifies a shift away from Marvel (something that would undoubtedly only increase Kennedy’s fears). Some are saying this would be the perfect time for Feige to make good on his promise to diversify the Marvel franchise, by putting his current Executive Vice President of Production Victoria Alonso in charge of the studio. Others are begging Feige not to leave Marvel in favor of what they view as a lost cause.

I’m still busy wondering whether Kevin Feige is a cyborg: the man takes multitasking to the next level.

So what are your thoughts? Is this a good move for Feige, Kennedy, or both? Or is this is sign of worse things to come for both Star Wars and Marvel? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Gemma Chan’s Return To The MCU!

Marvel Studios had a few unspoken, but solid rules that rarely, if ever, got broken: until this year. For instance, main characters didn’t die in Marvel films – or if they did, their deaths weren’t permanent: Loki could die over and over again, but he never had to actually die. Avengers: Endgame changed all that. Marvel heroes didn’t get more than three solo films: then, Thor 4 (Love And Thunder) got announced. Actors didn’t get to play more than one character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – if you signed on for a specific role, you were going to play that role and no other. Marvel president Kevin Feige was even pushing boundaries by allowing Paul Bettany to voice Tony Stark’s robotic assistant J.A.R.V.I.S., and also play Vision, the living, breathing embodiment of J.A.R.V.I.S. But today, apparently, all of Marvel’s rules have been thrown out the window.

Actress Gemma Chan, best known for her work in Crazy Rich Asians, had a supporting role in this year’s billion-dollar blockbuster Captain Marvel, as the trigger-happy Kree sniper Minn-Erva. Near the end of the film, (Spoiler Warning!) Minn-Erva’s spaceship gets blown out of the sky, and the assassin – presumably – dies in a billowing inferno. But while that might be the last we ever see of Minn-Erva, it might not be the end of the line for Gemma Chan in the MCU.

According to multiple outlets, Chan is making a return to Marvel, in the form of a completely new character who will appear in next year’s Eternals, a film which already stars Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek and Richard Madden as immortal space gods enlisted with protecting Earth from the Deviants. While very little is known about the film’s plot, it would appear to be a prequel spanning thousands of years of human and alien history, documenting a time when even the Titan warlord Thanos was still an infant. So, unless Minn-Erva is much older than she appeared, it doesn’t seem likely that we’re going to be seeing a younger version of her – and why would we, anyway? In Captain Marvel, Chan’s character was significantly…insignificant. Certainly not the type of villain that audiences are going to be waiting to see again on the big screen. Unless it turns out that she was an alien archaeologist in her spare time or something, it seems bizarre that Minn-Erva would appear in this movie.

But then…who is she? There may be at least three major female characters who have yet to be cast: the human archaeologist Margo Damian, the sorceress Sersi, and the possibly villainous android Elysius. If I had to take a guess, I’d wager that Chan is playing Elysius: not only because she looks much like the character, but because the comics version of Elysius actually has a small, but important link to the Kree aliens – the character first appeared in Captain Marvel #59, long before Carol Danvers possessed that title: instead, the Captain was a Kree male known as Mar-Vell, who became Elysius’ lover for a time before dying, at which point Elysius gave birth to their children, Genis-Vell and Phyla-Vell, two very important characters in the Marvel comics. It’s a lot of stuff to keep track of, but it’s an important link that could be exploited if Marvel Studios feels the need to explain, in some way, the reasoning behind this casting choice. Minn-Erva could be another daughter or descendant of Elysius (though the identity of the father might need to change, since the name Mar-Vell was already used in Captain Marvel to refer to a female Kree character: unless Elysius is the Eternals‘ touted LGBTQ character?)

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Chan isn’t the only person joining the cast of Eternals today – Barry Keoghan of Dunkirk will make his Marvel debut in the film as well, in an unknown role: possibly as the god of love, Eros “Starfox”, or, as some have suggested, a young version of Thanos.

What do you think about Marvel breaking their own rules like this? Who do you think Chan and Keoghan are playing? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Mindy Kaling Discusses A “Ms. Marvel” Movie?

With Mindy Kaling’s latest film venture, Late Night, receiving stellar reviews and a lot of buzz for the actress/director, she’s obviously looking at many more successes down the line. Interestingly, one of her next projects could be for Marvel Studios.

Kaling revealed that she has spoken to executives at Marvel with the express intent of pushing for a Ms. Marvel movie, something that Marvel president Kevin Feige has already suggested is in the works. “They’re trying to figure out what to do with it,” Kaling said in an interview, “and I told them I would help in any way, because I truly love her”.

The superhero in question, Ms. Marvel or Kamala Khan, clearly has a lot of emotional significance for Kaling, and it’s not surprising: Kaling is of Indian descent, while Khan is a fiercely outspoken Pakistani American teenager, and the first Muslim lead character in Marvel comics. With Marvel taking a new approach to its characters, turning the spotlight on diverse heroes, it was only a matter of time before Khan was next in line. A Ms. Marvel movie could be a huge cultural phenomenon like Black Panther was – and like the upcoming Shang-Chi and The Eternals probably will be. The main obstacle keeping her from joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe years ago was the absence of Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel – in comic lore, Carol is Khan’s role model, and Khan, when not acting as a hero in her own right, is generally portrayed as Carol’s sidekick and close friend – the Spider-man to Carol’s Iron Man, so to speak. But now Carol has been introduced to the MCU with huge success, paving the way for a sequel in which we’ll probably see many new characters.

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In fact, Carol might become mentor to not one, but two female superheroes: Kamala Khan and possibly Monica Rambeau. Rambeau was a young girl in the Captain Marvel movie, which took place in the 1990s – that means she’s probably in her thirties now, and, if we’re going by the comics, then she might already have her own set of cosmic superpowers. Thankfully, Captain Marvel actress Brie Larson is more than ready for the responsibility: a few months ago, she said that she also hopes to see Khan in the inevitable Captain Marvel sequel.

Kaling also hinted that Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed is similarly excited about the possibility of a Ms. Marvel movie: while she noted that the movie might head to the Disney Plus streaming platform, if it has Kaling attached as a director and Ahmed as one of the film’s leads, it could be some high-quality entertainment. As for who would play Kamala Khan herself, Kaling didn’t seem to have any fancasts – “I think it might have to be an unknown”, she said.

“Shang-Chi” Updates!

With Marvel Studios already working around the clock to get Black Widow and The Eternals into production this year (with Black Widow having literally just started), as well as Disney Plus shows such as Falcon & The Winter Soldier and WandaVision, there seemed to be little doubt that upcoming movies such as Black Panther 2, Doctor Strange 2, Guardians of the Galaxy 3 and Shang-Chi would have to wait until 2020 to start shooting.

But Marvel continues to be marvelous: in a surprising move, it looks like Shang-Chi will start shooting this fall, in Australia, under the direction of Asian-American director Destin Daniel Cretton, who has previously worked with other Marvel stars such as Captain Marvel actress Brie Larson. This could even be an indication of Marvel’s confidence in the film, if they’re giving it precedence over established franchises such as Black Panther and Guardians. This puts Shang-Chi firmly in place to make the February 2021 release date that I had previously speculated would be reserved for the Black Panther sequel. It does make a lot of sense when you realize that it will land on Chinese New Year.

Shang-Chi, the story of a Chinese martial artist fighting his villainous father, will be the first Asian-led Marvel film: while we don’t yet know who will be playing the protagonist himself (expect that announcement at San Diego Comic Con), we have some clues as to who else will be in the movie. Two character breakdowns have been released, and it seems that Marvel is looking for an Asian male and an Asian female to fill the roles of a “wise, old statesman” and a “skilled warrior”, respectively. Even though these hints are vague, fans have been quick to jump to the conclusion (partly supported by Marvel President Kevin Feige himself) that that “wise, old statesman” is none other than Shang-Chi’s evil father, The Mandarin. You may or may not remember The Mandarin from the Iron Man movies, and you might remember that the real Mandarin’s identity was never discovered, leaving the character something of an enigma in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And that would have probably been how he remained, were it not for Shang-Chi’s comics backstory.

You see, the original 1970s Marvel comics in which Shang-Chi was first introduced also portrayed his father as a blatantly racist stereotype – even down to his name, Fu Manchu (and his accompanying Fu Manchu mustache). Obviously, the character was hugely important to the story, but could never be included in the movie. Which is why, suddenly, The Mandarin becomes so important – this question-mark of a character can easily become Shang-Chi’s father, filling the role of the problematic Fu Manchu, and giving us a fitting conclusion to a lingering question at the same time. It’s no surprise that this is one of the biggest fan-theories currently surrounding the Shang-Chi movie.

As for the “skilled warrior”, it’s probable that this is Fah Lo Suee (not to be confused with the Fah Lo Suee of the 1960’s Fu Manchu franchise), also known as the “Cursed Lotus” or Lin Tang, a criminal mastermind and ring-leader who finds herself at odds with her brother, Shang-Chi, time and time again. There’s a really interesting family drama at the heart of this story that can, hopefully, be explored in great depth. Even the dynamics among Odin’s family in the Thor franchise can’t rival the sort of back-stabbing, deceit and competition that goes on in Shang-Chi’s family of gangsters, smugglers and mercenaries.

What would you like to see from the Shang-Chi movie? Leave your own thoughts in the comments below, and expect more updates soon!

MTV Awards Nominees!

Well, my votes have been cast – or, my first round of votes has: MTV has a strange system whereby voters are allowed to vote more than once, thus allowing rabid internet fans to make their voices very clearly heard. This is both wonderful (who doesn’t love voting more than once?), and infuriating (voting more than once is…well, cheating?).

But let’s talk about what we’re even voting for! The 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards nominees have been announced, and the polls are open in all sixteen categories. Here’s some of the nominees, and, of course, the candidates who got my vote.

For Best Movie, the top contender is obviously Avengers: Endgame, the superhero mega-hit that has crushed the box office and dominated the public conscious for months. While I voted for Endgame, I have to admit there were several other worthy challengers: BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee’s dramatic adaptation of the story of a black man who infiltrated the KKK; Spider-man: Into The Spider-Verse, an animated film with huge appeal to a mainly teen and young-adult fanbase (and those teens are MTV’s target audience); To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, a critically-appraised Netflix film about teen romance; and Us, Jordan Peele’s latest horror-drama about doppelgangers who terrorize an African-American family.

For Best Show, the choice was incredibly easy. Game of Thrones has my vote, no matter how bad the final season may be – and it’s bad, don’t get me wrong, but it’s still building off of very good material, and, hey, there’s one more episode left! There’s still time to turn the sinking ship around…even if, by that time, it will be too late. But seriously, I’m a fantasy fan, and Riverdale simply does not appeal to me. Now, if The Umbrella Academy were on this list, the choice would have been even easier, but sadly MTV has decided to ignore this cinematic masterpiece.

Interestingly, MTV does not have separate categories for Best Actor and Best Actress, which makes the competition for Best Performance In A Movie that much harder: Amandla Stenberg for The Hate U Give; Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody; Sandra Bullock for Netflix’s Bird Box; Lupita Nyong’o for Us; and Lady Gaga for A Star Is Born. I voted for Lupita because she deserves way more recognition than she gets. Malek is worthy competition, but he did just win an Oscar for his role as Freddie Mercury. It’s far more likely, though, that Lady Gaga will finally get an award, even though it’s probably too late to console her for her Oscar snub.

Naturally, for Best Performance In A Show, I’m backing Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones – yes, her character has just recently inspired backlash and division among the fans (and you never want to divide the fans), but she’s still a great actress, just burdened with bad writing.

None of the categories were as difficult as Best Hero, which pits Captain Marvel and Iron Man of the MCU against Shazam from DC, Game of Thrones‘ Arya Stark and BlacKkKlansman‘s Ron Stallworth. This one was hard: Captain Marvel has a special place in my heart because of all of the trials that she (and actress Brie Larson) has struggled through on her way to a billion-dollar box-office sensation, facing internet trolls and haters along the way; but Iron Man’s heroism in Avengers: Endgame cannot be emphasized enough – Robert Downey Jr. is the man who started the MCU and has now honorably closed its third phase as well. But then you’ve got Arya Stark, the girl being lauded as the true hero of Game of Thrones after the show has increasingly begun honing in its focus on her, the traumatized assassin and fierce warrior who said “Not today” in the face of death. Ultimately, Captain Marvel won my vote – the negativity that has surrounded her solo film was vanquished by Larson’s own bravery, as the actress refused to back down from the fight. It is worth noting, however, that Shazam‘s very own Zachary Levi will be hosting the MTV Awards ceremony – I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up winning.

MTV has its own peculiar categories: Best Kiss, for instance. I voted for Jason Momoa and Amber Heard’s kiss in Aquaman simply because, if it’s passionate enough to get the film censored in certain countries, that’s got to count for something.

Another fun one is Best Comedic Performance – with some indecision on my part, I finally chose Marsai Martin of Little, even over Zachary Levi’s performance as Shazam.

Best Villain…Thanos, obviously. Is there any doubt that Josh Brolin’s motion-capture creation should take home this award after snapping half the universe out of existence? I don’t think so.

I’m confused as to how Captain Marvel vs Minn-Erva is seriously one of the nominees for Best Fight – I mean, seriously, that is possibly the weakest fight-scene in the entire Captain Marvel movie. I would have chosen her ten-second combat with Yon-Rogg over that scene. Even with Captain America vs Thanos and Ruth Bader Ginsburg vs Inequality also up for consideration (though, really, does that latter even make sense?) I felt compelled to vote for Arya Stark vs The White Walkers in Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 3. That is an intensely exciting fight, even if it suffers from being darkly lit in an episode that was already notorious for being darkly lit.

I didn’t forget Ruth Bader Ginsburg though, when she came up again as one of the nominees for Best Real Life Hero. How could I not vote for the woman who has dedicated her life to the fight for equality? She’s up against Serena Williams, though, so expect the competition there to be tight.

So what do you think? You can vote here, and share your thoughts about the nominees in the comments below! (But if you don’t vote for Arya Stark, are you really even entitled to an opinion?)