“Loki” Series Adds Gugu Mbatha-Raw!

“Finally”, is all I can say to this fantastic bit of news that dropped tonight. Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who for years has been playing roles far too small to truly capture how awesome and talented she is, has just been cast in a leading role in Marvel’s upcoming Loki series on Disney+, which will follow the Norse trickster god on a villainous romp through time and space as he evades the forces of the Time Variance Authority, and possibly even explores his own gender-identity.

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Mbatha-Raw has shown up in a number of films and TV series, from utter disasters (A Wrinkle In Time, Jupiter Ascending) to underrated gems (such as the female-led indie supernatural drama Fast Color), to global blockbusters (Beauty & The Beast). Most recently, she had a role on Apple TV’s The Morning Show. But her role in Loki could introduce her to a much wider audience than she’s ever had before, and honestly I couldn’t be happier for her. Her character, while unnamed, is being described as the show’s “female lead”, according to sources, meaning she should stick around for all six episodes.

That doesn’t really help identify who she’s playing, as this series will likely draw from a number of Marvel comics, and could include multiple obscure characters: so while fans might want to jump to the conclusion that she’s playing Amora the Enchantress, a popular villain and Loki ally, that’s just a guess (though Mbatha-Raw would absolutely be a fantastic Enchantress, and would look incredible in the character’s iconic green and yellow costume). Other possibilities include a prominent member of the Time Variance Authority, the sorceress queen Karnilla, or Loki’s best friend Verity Willis, a fun and quirky character from the comics whose always had an interesting relationship with the Trickster God, since she possesses the power to see through lies. If it’s not too much to ask, I’m politely requesting that Marvel consider casting Mbatha-Raw in all of the above roles, if not more.

So what do you think? Is Gugu Mbatha-Raw a good fit for the series (yes, of course she is)? Who do you think she’s playing? Leave your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

“The Mandalorian: Chapter 8” Review!

The final episode of The Mandalorian‘s first season on Disney+ is quite appropriately titled Redemption – for not only does the title work in-universe, but it’s also an amusingly apt reflection on the fact that Redemption very literally redeems the slow-paced series’ many mishaps. The plot itself often seemed like an afterthought while Mando (Pedro Pascal) and his tiny, adorable sidekick Baby Yoda traveled the galaxy, stopping in at random planets to marvel at the visual spectacle and meet new friends – or enemies. But in the season finale, masterfully directed by Taika Waititi, the story is rich, thrilling, entertaining and emotional; the characters feel more fleshed-out than they have appeared previously; and, most importantly, Baby Yoda is the cutest we’ve seen him yet.

And that’s all I’ll say in the non-spoilers section. If you haven’t watched the episode yet, but plan to, then turn away now! SPOILERS AHEAD!

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The finale is chock-full of plot twists and gasp-out-loud revelations, but none more bewildering than the fact that Taika Waititi, who has never directed a Star Wars property previously, is somehow able to ease into the director’s chair for Redemption with all the graceful assurance of Dave Filoni, who at first glance would seem the natural choice to bring this series home to its epic (and thankfully, only temporary) conclusion. Waititi’s work here is surprisingly understated: you’d be hard-pressed to find any clues that this episode comes from the mind that brought you crazy, colorful comedies like Thor: Ragnarok or Jojo Rabbit (though it is amusingly unsurprising that the finale stars Waititi’s own character, assassin turned nurse droid IG-11, in a particularly prominent role). Obviously, directing a single good episode of TV doesn’t warrant immediately getting a three-picture deal with Lucasfilm, but hey, why not give Waititi a shot at his very own Star Wars trilogy?

Another surprise that boggled my mind, at least, was that Mandalorians are cool – for what I feel is the first time, despite everyone else in the world idolizing the very ground that Boba Fett walks upon. And one of the coolest things about them (apart from jetpacks and flamethrowers) is that they’re not a specific race of people, as Cara Dune (Gina Carano) reveals during an emotional moment in the episode: they’re a creed. Not only does it reinforce a particularly Rian Johnson theme in Disney’s Star Wars, that anyone can be a Mandalorian without having to have been born one, but it also makes the Mandalorians seem a lot more noble – in an extended flashback sequence which haunts our protagonist’s mind, we witness a squad of the flying, armored warriors acting as human shields for wounded refugees trying to escape from brutal droid-warfare: and it is revealed that during this battle, a young orphaned boy named Din Djarin was rescued by these Mandalorians and taken to safety with them – that boy was our very own “Mando”, whom I guess we can finally call Din Djarin? We’ve actually known that name for a while (Pedro Pascal ever-so-slightly spoiled it last month), but it’s only now canon, meaning I can only now use it. Yes, the Mandalorians are still vaguely cultish, and more than a little creepy, but at least they’re not solely defined by characters like Jango and Boba Fett anymore, or even just the term of “bounty hunter”. Djarin’s other biggest secret, his face, was also finally revealed in this episode…and, well, it’s Pedro Pascal’s face. I’m not entirely sure what we were all expecting, but honestly, that reveal was a bit underwhelming. It’s not like his face was even altered in any way: he didn’t have any scars or third-degree burns to speak of, no missing eyes or other distinguishing facial features. Not even a different hair color.

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Djarin’s secrets weren’t the only ones brought to light: IG-11 is revealed to have been entirely reformed by Kuiil’s repairs, riding in to rescue Baby Yoda from a couple of monstrous stormtroopers who amuse themselves by punching and mocking the adorable little infant – the droid then straps The Child into a baby-backpack and goes on a killing spree around Nevarro, mowing down stormtroopers. He later sacrifices himself to rescue the whole team, self-destructing and blowing an entire legion of enemies sky-high. Baby Yoda himself is given his own hero moment when he faces down a flamethrower-wielding stormtrooper and deflects the attacker’s fire back at him: there’s a couple more reveals about his character, but I need to address those separately. Then there’s Cara Dune, whose home planet is revealed to be Alderaan (Princess Leia’s planet, infamously blown to pieces by the Death Star in A New Hope), thus explaining her undying grudge against the Empire. Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) turns out to have been an ex-Imperial himself, though that big secret falls a little flat due to the fact that we barely even know Karga, and have always been on-the-fence about whether or not to trust him and his Bounty Hunters Guild, anyway.

The person doing a lot of this dramatic-revealing is none other than Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), who is being set up to be the series’ big bad, and Din Djarin’s arch-nemesis. Gideon toys with his victims as they shelter in the burnt-out rubble of Werner Herzog’s lair, spilling their secrets to the world and promising them tantalizingly good deals if they’ll only hand over Baby Yoda. We never do find out what Gideon or Herzog wanted with The Child (and, come to think of it, we never even found out Herzog’s character name or purpose in the story, before he was unceremoniously murdered in the assault on his hideout), but considering how despicably evil Gideon is revealed to be, I’m going to assume it’s not because either of them just wanted cuddles and hugs. Gideon is also shown to have an alarmingly dangerous arsenal: not only can his tiny little handgun pierce through beskar steel, but the Moff is also a trained TIE-fighter pilot capable of handling his own in a dogfight. Oh yeah, and he just so happens to be in possession of the one black lightsaber in the entire galaxy, no biggie.

The lightsaber in question, better known as the Darksaber, has never been seen in live-action before this day, though it was seen in the animated series, Star Wars Rebels, which gave us a couple clues about the saber’s history. It was crafted by Tarre Vizsla, the first Mandalorian Jedi, during the reign of the Old Republic, and has since meandered across the universe, through the hands of a number of notable peoples and individuals, including the belligerent Mandalorian Clan Vizsla (to whose ranks Din Djarin appears to belong), the legendary Sith Lord Darth Maul, and Nite Owls leader Bo-Katan, who was the last known person to wield the blade, almost a decade before we seen Moff Gideon crawl from the wreckage of his TIE-fighter with the weapon in hand. The Darksaber is something of a mystical item, bestowing upon its wielder the title of Mand’alor, or leader of the Mandalorians – Gideon certainly has a fascination with the religious order, having been personally involved with eradicating them during the Great Purge and keeping tabs on those who survived. And now that he’s back on his feet, we can safely assume Din Djarin and Baby Yoda won’t be safe from his murderous rage anytime soon.

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But for the moment, Din has a more urgent problem to worry about: while visiting his old friend The Armorer (Emily Swallow), he was gifted a number of odds-and-ends, including his very own jetpack, a personal sigil, and custody over Baby Yoda – which, apparently, is something that The Armorer can just hand out to anybody she feels like. But there’s a catch: while she tells Djarin to protect and train the baby (and even bestows upon them a title, the “Clan of Two”, which seems to hint at Star Wars’ common theme of duality), she also instructs him to seek out the child’s people – it’s not clearly indicated whether she’s referring specifically to Baby Yoda’s birth-family, or the Jedi in general, but it’s obvious that this will be a central plot-point in the series’ second season. But honestly, as much as we all want to see a whole planet of Baby Yodas, I think I’m just as excited to see The Child training as a Mandalorian – just so long as Din Djarin doesn’t try to make him wear a ridiculous helmet of his own: Baby Yoda’s adorable, expressive little puppet-face will not be hidden from the world, not if I and the internet have anything to say about the matter.

For the record, I think there’s a decent chance that we do actually see the home-planet of The Child’s species in The Mandalorian, and that the Jedi sage Yaddle will be revealed to be his mother. I know, I know, Yaddle is presumed dead – but there’s never been any conclusive evidence that that is the case, and honestly, she deserves so much more recognition than she gets. You know what, I’m just gonna say it: I think Yaddle is a better character than Yoda. Come at me, Yoda stans!

We’ve been left with a number of pressing questions from the season finale, but a bunch of mysteries have also been resolved, and we’ve left Din Djarin and Baby Yoda in a good place, all things considered. What did you think of the finale? Are you excited for Season 2? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below!

Episode Rating: 9/10

“The Mandalorian: Chapter 7” Review!

Minor SPOILERS For Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker Ahead!

The penultimate installment in The Mandalorian‘s (sometimes) epic journey dropped last Wednesday, so as to avoid having to compete with Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker‘s Friday release date, but I am only just getting around to reviewing the suspenseful episode today. And I’m pleased to announce that, while the series has moved too slowly up until now, director Deborah Chow once again manages to send a jolt of tension into the story’s creaking mechanics just in time for the season finale.

The episode opens with The Mandalorian (voiced by Pedro Pascal: it was revealed recently that Pascal himself only occasionally portrays the masked and armored mercenary physically) receiving an urgent message telling him to return to the city of Nevarro with his precious cargo, the adorable Baby Yoda. But Mando, still finding time for detours in all the chaos and fast-paced action, first makes brief stops to two other planets to recruit former ally Cara Dune (Gina Carano) as additional muscle, and blurg-herder Kuiil (Nick Nolte) as a babysitter for The Child. But things don’t go entirely according to plan, and everything that happens next is one big spoiler – and for once, I actually mean that. This episode actually does have some twists and turns, and one shocking cliffhanger ending.

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The first big surprise comes when Baby Yoda uses the Force to try and choke Cara Dune as she arm-wrestles the Mandalorian on his ship. The action is undeniably defensive on the Baby’s part, as he was obviously just trying to protect Mando from what he thought was real physical harm, but it still leaves the audience reeling: yes, Baby Yoda is capable of actually killing someone with the Force already, and isn’t afraid to use his powers. Not much later, he uses the Force to heal a wound dealt to Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) in a battle with giant bats. This is even more alarming than the Force-choke incident – Baby Yoda is one of only two (possibly three) characters in the current Star Wars canon to possess Force-healing abilities, the other(s?) being revealed in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. That would seem to suggest that Baby Yoda is very powerful and very unique, and it’s no wonder that the Empire wants him – we just don’t know what they plan to do with him.

But we will find out soon enough: after entering Nevarro and finding the city overrun with ex-Imperial stormtroopers, Mando, Karga and Dune come face-to-face with Werner Herzog’s mysterious character, still known only as The Client, while Kuiil takes Baby Yoda and rides as fast as possible back to the Mandalorian’s ship. But while Mando’s plan initially seems to be successful, as he guns down an entire squadron of stormtroopers and seemingly kills Herzog’s character, Kuiil isn’t so lucky. Stormtroopers intercept the mustachioed alien’s communications with Mando and hunt him down even as he tries to escape: the episode leaves us with a heartbreaking final shot of Kuiil’s tiny body, still smoking from a fatal laser blast, lying just a few feet from the spaceship. And Baby Yoda? The stormtroopers have him in their grasp.

Mando and his little team aren’t in great shape either, going into the finale. Their story leaves off with them barricaded inside Herzog’s lair, while dozens of stormtroopers surround them on all sides – far more than the “four” bodyguards that Karga had warned them about going into the mission. And that’s not even the worst of it: arriving in a majestic Imperial TIE-fighter, resplendent in military uniform, is Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) a new character to the Star Wars universe, but not wholly unfamiliar either: A New Hope introduced fans to Peter Cushing as the menacing Grand Moff Tarkin, commander of the first Death Star, and there have been a couple other “Moffs” here and there, grand or otherwise. Gideon, with his battalion of special death-troopers, certainly looks like one of the ex-Empire’s most senior officials. Whatever he is, his intentions are clear: he wants Baby Yoda, and, knowing the Moffs, he’s probably prepared to blow up the entire city of Nevarro to get his hands on the adorable little creature – I mean, can we blame him? Poor guy’s probably been scouring the internet for good-quality Baby Yoda plushies and has finally snapped and gone after the real deal. That’s a perfectly legitimate villain origin story.

Other highlights from the tense episode include the return of IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi), the assassin droid whom Mando slew in the very first episode. Kuiil reveals that he found and repaired the droid, and that the former bounty hunter no longer remembers his past life of brutality and violence, and is now a willing servant, farmhand and waiter. But the droid’s eerie interactions with his killer suggest that maybe IG-11 is just waiting for his chance to strike.

As we wait for the eighth and final episode in the series, I think it’s about time we started considering how many of our pressing questions can logically be answered in a forty-minute finale: will we learn who Baby Yoda is, and what the Empire wants with him? Will we learn anything about the state of the Empire at this point in time, and will it help to clarify certain elements of The Rise Of Skywalker? Will more of the Mandalorian’s former friends and enemies make an appearance one last time, or will it just be him, Dune, Karga and Yoda against the world? Will Mando remove his mask, give us a hint of his shadowy backstory, or explain why he hates droids so much? Was it Moff Gideon who approached Fennec Shand’s body on the sands of Tatooine in Episode 5, or was that another, as yet unknown character? We’ve got a lot of questions, and Episode 7, aptly titled The Reckoning, has only added more to the mix.

Fingers crossed that the finale can answer at least a couple of them.

Episode Rating: 8/10

“The Mandalorian: Chapter 6” Review!

While I was not fond of Rick Famuyiwa’s first episode of The Mandalorian, The Child, I feel he has done much to redeem himself in the story’s newest entry, The Prisoner, which sees our protagonist finally become…well, the protagonist. Though the episode does absolutely nothing to course-correct a show that still has no throughline, it at least gives us great action sequences and an eerily suspenseful prison-heist storyline to distract us from that detail: at this point, it seems highly unlikely that the show’s first season will do anything beyond the established formula of having each episode begin with The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) either having to fix his spaceship or earn money (money he never seems to use), achieving his goal by means of a detour or side-quest, and then leaving for another corner of the galaxy. While it’s not exactly thrilling, it’s at least got impressive world-building.

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And finally, it just might have a hero. Our lead character, the masked, emotionless, practical Mandalorian, has been set up as an enigma over the course of the last five episodes – but at the same time, he’s also been shown to be a rather clumsy fighter (in Famuyiwa’s previous episode, he was nearly killed by a rhino and humiliated by a pack of Jawas) and somebody who doesn’t tend to think ahead. But now, armored with beskar steel and armed with flamethrowers, garrotes and “whistling birds”, the Mandalorian is finally getting a chance to stand on his own two feet for once. The subplot in which he finds himself entangled today requires him to lead a small group of scoundrels and thugs into a New Republic prison-cruiser to free a dangerous hostage – and Mando actually works out a plan, executes it very well, and, when the tables turn, fights back with courage, wits, and a flair for the dramatic previously seen only in characters like Han Solo.

Baby Yoda is as cute as ever, and seeing his life constantly endangered by ruffians and ignorant idiots (one of whom even has the audacity to drop him!) is grounds for legal action against Disney. Famuyiwa appears to be the only director on this show who’s actually paying attention to the fact (that he introduced, in episode 2) that the Child is force-sensitive, giving him a cool little mission of his own in this chapter that makes him feel like his own character – one whose arc may very well be leading up to something, and at the very least is the cutest thing to come out of the Star Wars franchise since…actually, no, Baby Yoda is the cutest thing in the Star Wars franchise, period.

We need to talk about the episode’s big twist and ending, though, so let this be your warning that there are SPOILERS AHEAD!

After being commissioned by an old friend named Ranzar Malk (Mark Boone Jr.) to rescue a prisoner from the clutches of the New Republic, Mando is forced to take with him a band of strange, suspicious ruffians, all of whom seem to want him dead. Most notably, Natalia Tena portrays his former…lover? girlfriend?…a Twi’lek alien mercenary named Xi’an, whose hissing breath and throwing knives (not to mention, you know, the purple tentacles sprouting from her head) make her an instant classic, even if she is a bit grating after a while. It’s not a surprise that this crew doesn’t have Mando’s best interests at heart – it is a surprise, however, when they free the prisoner, Xi’an’s brother Qin (Ismael Cruz Cordova), who it turns out was imprisoned due to the Mandalorian’s interference. Mando gets shoved into a prison cell while his treacherous co-workers flee, trying to make off with his ship. But apparently they didn’t reckon with Mando’s newfound ability to pick locks by dismembering droids: he escapes and hunts them down one-by-one in a delightfully dark game of cat-and-mouse. All the while, assassin droid Zero (Richard Ayoade) is busy hunting Baby Yoda through Mando’s spaceship, having discovered the infant’s importance to the Bounty Hunter’s Guild. Thankfully, Mando is able to lock up his former friends and get back to his ship just in time to shoot the droid dead – but interestingly, Baby Yoda goes to use the Force just before the Mandalorian’s fatal shot, prompting questions about which character actually killed him.

But Mando doesn’t just want to get back at the traitors for trying to hurt his adorable little baby – he wants vengeance, and he gets it, big-time. Flying back to Malk’s base, Mando delivers up the promised prisoner, as well as a little parting gift: a New Republic tracking beacon that quickly alerts an entire squadron of X-Wing fighter pilots to the base’s location. Mando gets out of range just before the entire place is blown to pieces. It’s the first time we’ve gotten a glimpse of what the New Republic looks like after the Empire’s fall – and honestly, they look about the same as when we last saw them (except that these particular X-Wing pilots just so happen to be played by Mandalorian directors Dave Filoni, Rick Famuyiwa and Deborah Chow).

Possibly the best part of the episode was seeing characters trying desperately to unmask the Mandalorian – and failing miserably. Even after being taunted and mocked (and even called a Gungan, the worst possible insult in the Star Wars universe), Mando steadfastly refuses to ever remove his iconic helmet. Whether that’s because of plot purposes or because Pedro Pascal simply doesn’t want to have to actually film any scenes, we don’t know and probably won’t find out until the show’s final episode – if even.

So, The Prisoner doesn’t add much to the series’ tenuous idea of a plot, and whether or not characters like Xi’an will turn up again sometime in the future is still an open question: but it does give us an incentive to care about the Mandalorian himself – which, uh, probably isn’t a bad idea, considering that five episodes in, he was undeniably the most boring thing about the show named after him. We’re nearing the first season’s conclusion, and hopefully it’s an epic ride.

Episode Rating: 8/10

“Aladdin” Spinoff In The Works At Disney+!

When I tell you that news broke last night that Disney is producing a spinoff series based on a character from their billion-dollar summer blockbuster Aladdin, a live-action remake of the animated classic, I’m sure your assumption would be something like: oh, a spinoff about Aladdin? I’d watch that.

But it’s not about Aladdin. Guess again.

Princess Jasmine? Jafar?

Wrong on both counts. Last guess.

Um…the Genie? Abu the Monkey? The flying carpet?

Nope. See, you’re not thinking in the mindset of a studio executive, who looks at a great movie with one of Disney’s most ethnically diverse live-action casts and asks themselves: is there any way to make an entire TV show about the one white guy in this movie?

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Still not ringing any bells? That’s because the one white guy in Aladdin only had two scenes, and you probably forgot him long ago, he was so insignificant. Prince Anders, the regal visitor from a far away kingdom called Skanland (in my review of Aladdin, I mistakenly marked it down as Scotland: my bad), made no impression on any of the characters around him, and thus made no impression on us, the audience. And yes, I’m sure Billy Magnussen was doing his very best in the role (and clearly he thinks he was good enough to warrant his own miniseries, as he was apparently involved in pitching this idea to the studio), but Anders came across as an unlikable buffoon who absolutely nobody would want to spend time with – if there was any purpose to his character, that was it. He unsuccessfully courted Princess Jasmine (and in a deleted scene gifted her a giant cannon, which blew up his own ship), and then hung around in the background like a clingy house-guest that everybody was this close to escorting out the door. And yet, he’s getting his very Disney+ streaming series.

Disney has hired Jordan Dunn and Michael Kvamme to write a script for the series (Disney’s first spinoff of a live-action remake), which will star Magnussen. Plot details are still unknown, but if the series is going to have anything to do with Aladdin, it will presumably follow the dim-witted prince on his…journey? Leisurely stroll?…through the city of Agrabah. It is not known whether any of the other main cast of Aladdin will show up in the series – don’t forget, a sequel to that film is also supposedly in the works at Disney.

Despite that, many people are understandably upset that this news broke just days after Aladdin star Mena Massoud revealed that, since the blockbuster’s release back in May, he hasn’t gotten a single audition. While he’s probably going to star in the unconfirmed Aladdin 2, the optics of this announcement are ridiculously bad. Firstly, because nobody was asking for an entire spinoff series about an annoying background character whose biggest scene was deleted from the movie. Secondly, because there are a number of other characters in Aladdin who would make for much more interesting and compelling protagonists: a Jafar prequel series, exploring his rise from street rat to vizier; a fun comedy series following Genie and his new love-interest Dahlia on their voyages around the world; literally anyone else in Agrabah who is actually, oh I don’t know, an Agrabahan (Agrabahon? Agrabahni?).

I also fear that this announcement means Anders isn’t going away anytime soon, and will stick around for the Aladdin sequel, assuming his series has any sort of popularity. Personally, I’d be happy forgetting that this character ever existed – but alas, I don’t have my own personal Genie who can wish this nonsense out of existence.

What do you think of the news? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

“The Mandalorian: Chapter Two” Review!

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Okay, so a quick rundown of everything that happened in Episode 2 of The Mandalorian, a.k.a. Chapter 2: The Child.

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing. That was quite possibly one of the most inconsequential episodes of television I’ve ever watched. I don’t even feel like spoiler tags are necessary for this review, but here’s your quick warning anyway. SPOILERS AHEAD. If you want to call them spoilers. Honestly nothing happened.

The episode picked up where the last one left off, with The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) escorting baby Yoda through the desert. The two are immediately attacked by other mercenaries, whom the Mandalorian dispatches without trouble. The rest of the episode follows the pair as they hunt down a group of Jawa aliens who had ransacked the Mandalorian’s spaceship for parts, leaving the bounty hunter and his cargo trapped on the desert planet. Finally, the Mandalorian reaches an agreement with the hostile scavengers: in exchange for the needed parts, he will bring them an egg from some sort of alien rhino monster. He does so, just barely surviving the experience, and the trade happens: with the help of the alien Kuiil (Nick Nolte), he fixes his spaceship and leaves the planet with baby Yoda.

And that’s it. There’s one big “reveal”, but it’s predictable: during the fight with the alien rhino, the Mandalorian is beaten up and on the brink of death when he is saved at the last moment by baby Yoda, who wields the Force, allowing the Mandalorian the time he needs to regain his footing and plunge a knife into the monster’s flank. At which point baby Yoda falls asleep, apparently exhausted by the effort. And all that would be hugely exciting…if the baby in question wasn’t obviously a miniature version of one of the greatest Jedi masters of all time. Whether this Yoda is a clone or a child of the original, it was kind of inevitable that he/she (we still don’t even know its gender!) would have the same powers as the previous Yoda. Honestly, I was expecting a couple of clues, or at least some hints or teases, of what’s to come. But instead we got an entirely pointless escapade with the Jawas, just so we could confirm something that pretty much everybody already guessed was coming.

And beyond that…literally nothing. This little side-quest did not need to be an entire episode – it could have been summed up in maybe five minutes at most. Unless, of course, the Jawas and the Egg have some important part to play later on in the series: though, the Jawas did eat the Egg immediately after receiving it, so it might be a bit late for that.

As we wait for the next episode, I have to wonder what was the point of Chapter 2, and how much longer we’ll have to wait before something of consequence happens. Now that the Mandalorian is finally on the move again, it’s hopefully only a matter of time before something happens: but, in a show that just wasted a half-hour episode on Jawa scavengers, nothing is certain.

Everything frustrating about the first episode is made even more annoying in the second: the Mandalorian himself is, in fact, more clumsy and incompetent than before – he’s easily defeated by the Jawas (the Jawas, who even the notoriously lame stormtroopers were able to kill with ease in A New Hope), and the big rhino almost succeeds in killing him. He’s just not a particularly interesting protagonist as of right now, and this episode does nothing to change my perception of him.

So…until next week, Star Wars fans. Let’s hope that when we rejoin the Mandalorian and baby Yoda, they’re actually doing something important.

Episode Review: 1/10

“The Mandalorian: Chapter 1” Review!

The first segment of Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni’s The Mandalorian is an intriguing introduction to a darker, grittier corner of the Star Wars universe, doing a whole lot of worldbuilding, establishing a compelling mystery spanning several planets, and leaving viewers with plenty of questions.

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Set sometime after the fall of the Empire in The Return Of The Jedi, the series presents us with a region of deep space that seems unaffected by the peace and prosperity we saw blossom across the universe in Jedi‘s celebratory finale. The aliens and humans we encounter in the pilot episode are barely scraping by, surviving only by hunting down their enemies and killing them – or hiring others to do so. The nameless protagonist played by Pedro Pascal, known only as the Mandalorian (or “Mando”, as he is disparagingly called in one space cantina), is supposedly one of the most legendary bounty hunters in the parsec, though he does surprisingly little to earn that reputation in this episode: the action sequences are few and far between, and the big battle at the end of the episode is really just a whole bunch of red laser-bolts dancing wildly across the screen, leaving the Mandalorian himself with little room to prove his own tactical or military prowess. His uncomfortably awkward encounter with an alien monster named a Blurrg undermines the character even further. As of right now, I can’t understand why everyone is so terrified of the Mandalorian, or how he has somehow established such command in the bounty hunter guild he works with – but his ally, the hunter droid IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi), while undeniably more malevolent, is even more clumsy, so perhaps this is a trait shared by all of Star Wars‘ bounty hunters – even the mighty Boba Fett fell into a Sarlac pit, after all.

It’s an unpleasant reality, but Pascal’s Mandalorian is simply not as interesting as some of his co-stars in the first episode, who receive far less screentime but far more personality and character. Even the Armorer, a female Mandalorian who designs a shoulder pauldron for the Mandalorian (I get that they’re a secretive people, but names would be really helpful right about now), is marginally more interesting than him: Mandalorian culture in general is something that I’d love to see explored in greater depth as the series progresses – though at present, there’s a much greater mystery unfolding, one which definitely takes precedence over “why are shoulder-pads so important to the Mandalorians?”

Werner Herzog plays the Mandalorian’s nameless client, who appears to be a survivor of the Empire’s demise: he commands a host of trigger-happy stormtroopers, and is working closely with a suspiciously enthusiastic scientist named Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi). The two men employ the Mandalorian to hunt down a dangerous target on the other side of the galaxy, though neither is willing to give many details about their prey – save that Pershing wants it alive at all costs. We’ve known for quite some time that this series could give us crucial details about how the fallen Empire rebuilt itself into the First Order that currently threatens Rey and the Resistance: if I had to make a guess at this early stage, I would assume that Pershing and his mysterious friend have something to do with that. And I’ve even got the beginnings of an idea as to why that might be, but it requires us to get into spoiler territory – so without further ado, here’s your SPOILER WARNING!

At the end of the episode, after the Mandalorian and IG-11 have broken into an alien base on a desert planet, they come face to face with the unidentified asset they’ve been hunting via tracking fob. And while some of us might have been expecting their target to be a prominent Star Wars character such as Obi-Wan Kenobi or Princess Leia, they are instead greeted by…a tiny floating cradle. It would have been absolutely outstanding if the cradle’s occupant had turned out to be baby Rey, but no…

It’s baby Yoda.

Now, The Mandalorian takes place after Yoda’s death, so obviously this isn’t the Jedi Master himself – which means there are only a couple of reasons why this character would even be introduced, and why the Empire would be so desperate to hunt him/her down and capture him/her. It could be that Baby Yoda is a completely unrelated member of the Jedi’s same species (which, let’s face it, isn’t likely). It’s possible that Baby Yoda is Yoda’s child, which is at least theoretically plausible. But I happen to think this baby is none other than Yoda’s clone: an infant messiah who the Empire might want to capture for two reasons – firstly, because letting it live isn’t exactly Imperial protocol; and secondly, most importantly, because at this point in the Star Wars timeline, with the Empire collapsing into ruin across the galaxy, with the forces of evil on the run, the Sith Lords are desperate for something to restore their greatness and glory. What better way to do so than to bring back Emperor Palpatine himself – something we know will happen in The Rise Of Skywalker – through use of cloning technology? Why else would a scientist be so desperate to get his hands on the seemingly harmless child? Why else, unless he wanted to study the secrets of cloning and use that technology to resurrect the Emperor?

But the Empire didn’t count on Pedro Pascal’s Mandalorian being a kind-hearted softie who can’t bring himself to hurt the baby when he confronts it – even killing (or at the very least injuring) IG-11 when the droid tries to “terminate” Baby Yoda. The episode ends with a powerful shot of Baby Yoda holding the Mandalorian’s hand, staring up at him with adorably naive eyes and making cute cooing noises. I don’t know what to expect from Episode 2, but somehow I don’t think that the Mandalorian will be responsible for taking the baby back to the Imperial baddies.

Aside from Baby Yoda, the episode’s finale leaves us with a couple of big questions. Is IG-11 really dead? Will the Mandalorian be able to escape with Baby Yoda? – his Ugnaught guide Kuiil (Nick Nolte) was adamant that people who enter the desert don’t come back alive, but the Mandalorian seems to have taken care of all of the infant’s alien guardians pretty easily. As for the Mandalorian himself, who is he? Glimpses of his backstory as a war refugee played in a montage while the Armorer was designing his shoulder-pad, so it looks like Pascal’s character might have had a tragic past during the Clone Wars.

When all is said and done, the series’ pilot episode is merely good – with hints and teases of better material down the road. At the very least, it’s worth watching for Ludwig Göransson’s beautiful score, which sounds almost more fantasy than sci-fi. And with characters like Ming Na-Wen’s assassin Fennec Shand yet to appear onscreen, there’s plenty to look forward to in later episodes.

Episode Review: 7/10

Marvel On Disney+ – Updates, Rumors And Theories!

Disney+ is speeding towards its launch date on the 12th of this month, and people are already eager to finally have the streaming service and its boatload of content, both old and original, at their fingertips. But those of us who are Marvel fans, and have thus already watched all of the Marvel films that will be on Disney+ about ten times over, are looking much further ahead to when we will finally have original Marvel content to stream on the platform. There are eight Disney+ exclusive miniseries in the works, but all of them are still a long way off. So here I am to tide you over, while you wait, with all the latest updates on Marvel’s venture into the world of streaming.

variety.com

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier: first up is the series which will follow Sam Wilson (“The Falcon”) and Bucky Barnes (“The Winter Soldier”) as they fight evil in the name of the late great Captain America. Rumors suggest that the duo will face off against one of Marvel’s most controversial villains – US Agent John Walker, a Southern conservative who receives the title of Captain America from the US Government after the powers that be decide that Falcon, a black man, isn’t fit to carry the Captain’s shield and legacy. Created in the Reagan era as a warning against hyper-patriotism, Walker is an interesting character to explore, especially given the current political climate. Baron Zemo, first seen in Captain America: Civil War, will also serve as an antagonist in the show, and one of the central plot elements is rumored to be a killer virus that Falcon and Winter Soldier will have to stop from spreading across the United States – it’s unclear what the virus will be, but the Russo Brothers originally planned to use a similar storyline for Civil War, in which Captain America would have to stop the spread of the Madbomb virus, which turns people into mindless, bloodthirsty berserkers: Madbomb could be brought back for The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, and would make for a pretty compelling story. Thankfully, we only have to wait until next Autumn to find out how the two superheroes will deal with that onslaught of dangerous threats: the show is currently filming in Atlanta, Georgia.

WandaVision: a direct tie-in to Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, which will release in the summer of 2021, WandaVision will explore the life of Wanda Maximoff after the events of Avengers: Endgame, as she descends into insanity and constructs an elaborate alternate reality for herself and a resurrected version of her dead lover, the Vision. A new rumor suggests that when Vision is brought back to life in the series, he will appear as the White Vision, an alternate version of the character that became very popular in the 1980’s – basically just Vision, but without any human emotions or memories of his past life. The series is also apparently looking to cast two babies, which strongly implies that Wanda Maximoff’s twin children from the comics, the heroes Wiccan and Speed, will make their MCU debuts in this show. WandaVision will probably begin filming fairly soon. Randall Park and Kat Dennings will reprise their roles as comedic relief characters Jimmy Woo and Darcy, respectively, while Teyonah Parris joins the series as Monica Rambeau, whom we last saw as a child in Captain Marvel.

Hawkeye: an upcoming Marvel project that has generated some controversy already is the Hawkeye miniseries which will focus on the current Hawkeye, Clint Barton, and the future one, Kate Bishop. Jeremy Renner, who plays Barton in the MCU, has been the target of a whole bunch of allegations from his ex-wife recently, accusing him of physical and emotional abuse. There’s still no official word on whether or not Renner will remain as the star of the series, though reliable sources have hinted that Disney has considered recasting the actor if the allegations are true. According to Marvel executive Trinh Tran, one major element for the series will be explaining Barton’s origins: presumably his time as a circus performer, and then as an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. – maybe even another tantalizing reference to the infamous Budapest incident. The series doesn’t have a production start date, but will release in Autumn of 2021. Hawkeye is just a boring character in general, though (at least, in my opinion), so no one is really too upset that we have to wait a little longer for this series. Just sayin’.

Ms. Marvel: speaking of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a prominent member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team could be joining the MCU through the Ms. Marvel series. The show, which will start production in April of next year, has just hired Krista Husar, the casting director from the ABC TV series Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, leading to speculation that Ms. Marvel might be looking to cast actress Chloe Bennet, who plays Inhuman heroine Daisy Johnson on S.H.I.E.L.D., in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: it could be a stretch, but it would make sense story-wise, since Ms. Marvel is already rumored to include multiple Inhuman characters, including the Royal Family of Attilan, and, of course, Ms. Marvel herself. Marvel is currently looking for an actress to play the shape-shifting teenager, and is now casting her entire family, including her parents Yusuf and Muneeba, and her brother Amir. A villain is also reportedly being cast for the series – and here’s where I want to take a moment to just admire the fact that, if the rumors are reliable, then Disney+’s roster of characters will be weirder than anything we’ve seen from the MCU before: because apparently the villain that Marvel is looking to cast is none other than (bear with me here) The Inventor – a clone of legendary genius Thomas Edison who, due to an accident with his DNA, ends up becoming an anthropomorphic bird-man hybrid who operates out of Bayonne, New Jersey. Between that and Ms. Marvel herself being a walking rubber-band, this series is shaping up to be…interesting, to say the least. Even Ms. Marvel’s original creator, G. Willow Wilson, is afraid the lead character will lookreally creepy” in the live-action format.

Moon Knight: finally, the Moon Knight series is also getting off to a good start, with casting underway for a Jewish actor to portray troubled antihero Marc Spector, the former CIA mercenary who becomes the unwitting servant of the Egyptian moon god Khonshu (these premises are crazy!). And a recent rumor indicates that Marvel is looking to adapt another absolutely bonkers villain for the small-screen story: Stained Glass Scarlet, the psychic, crossbow-wielding ninja nun/vigilante/former prison guard who kills her own son after he turns to a life of crime, and forms a telepathic bond with Spector through his dreams, is apparently destined for a place in the series as a lead antagonist. In the comics, she has something close to a redemption arc, in which Spector learns to pity her, and eventually allows her to escape from the police. How much of that will be transferred over to live-action is still unclear.

At this point I can only imagine what the casting calls will be like for series’ such as She-Hulk or Loki. It looks like Disney+ will be home to some of the wackiest heroes and villains from the Marvel Comics, and I hope to hear of more in the near future: from the reality-bending antics of WandaVision to the polymorphous weirdness of Ms. Marvel, it looks like there’s plenty of room for more insanely unique storylines on the small screen.

So what do you think? Share your own thoughts and theories in the comments below!

Is There Any Chance Of Hela Returning?

It’s time for a Marvel theory, because we haven’t done one in a little while, and because I don’t really know what there is to say about the fact that a Love, Simon series is coming to Disney+, and I don’t want to get embroiled in the catastrophic mess that is Disney’s live-action Mulan, unless I absolutely have to. So, instead, let’s talk about something nice – the Goddess of Death.

The last time we saw Marvel’s iteration of the iconic villainess Hela (portrayed by legendary actress Cate Blanchett), she was being crushed under the weight of the fiery giant Surtur, and the crumbling wreckage of Asgard at the end of Thor: Ragnarok. As if that wasn’t enough, the entire planet around her then blew up, to the point where it would be entirely possible to ever rebuild, at least according to Korg, the helpful blue rock-monster. So, the general consensus among fans is that whatever remains of Hela is floating somewhere in the frozen void of space. But is it that simple?

According to Cate Blanchett, the character doesn’t have to be permanently dead, and she’s perfectly willing to reprise the role, if director Taika Waititi allows. What with everything else supposedly going on in the fourth Thor movie, Thor: Love And Thunder (two versions of Thor, Valkyrie looking for a girlfriend, possibly a last hurrah from Loki himself) it might be difficult to find a place for the Ragnarok villain, but there’s a few ways that it could work.

Firstly, there wouldn’t need to be any elaborate explanation for how she survived. She’s the Goddess of Death. Maybe she physically can’t die – and if she did, wouldn’t that pose a problem for all the dishonorable dead, who would now lack an overlord? Is her fiefdom now leaderless? What’s happening down in Hel? Honestly, it’s better to just say that Hela survived the destruction of Asgard, fled back to Hel (since she wouldn’t have anywhere else to go), and is now either scheming over some new plan, or has begrudgingly made peace with Thor, her younger brother – even though she kind of killed a large part of his population, cut out his eye, destroyed his homeland and set into motion the tragic events of Avengers: Infinity War. It’s not hard to imagine: take a look at Hela’s Wikipedia page and count how many times people are being brought back to life either by her, or because of her.

So what would she be up to, in the post-Endgame world? Well, it’s obviously too late to have her fill the role of Mistress Death, Thanos’ one true love and divine muse; something that fans had wanted to see. But she could have a few tricks up her sleeve, still.

The one that seems most likely to me, not only because it’s fun but because this is a Taika Waititi movie, and that man is absolutely insane (in a good way), is a storyline from some of the more recent Thor comics, in which the Goddess of Death sets up shop in Las Vegas, Nevada, opening a lair for criminals called the Inferno Club – not to be confused with the Hellfire Club, also from Marvel comics. Here, Hela has met and plotted with some of the greatest villains in the cosmos, including Loki, Mephisto, and even Dormammu (remember him, from Doctor Strange?). Her stories on earth have mostly revolved around her trying to foil the plans of the New Mutants, including Magik and Dani Moonstar, so it provides an opportunity for some X-Men cameos or namedrops. And who wouldn’t pay the price of admission just to see Cate Blanchett, decked out in the character’s campy black-and-green attire and lofty antlers, managing a casino?

As for how she could be tied into the plot, well, that might rely on everyone’s favorite God of Mischief, who may or may not be returning for the final Thor film. If he does come back, it will be a very different Loki than the one who was killed by Thanos in Infinity War: this Loki would be the one who escaped through an alternate reality in Endgame, still very much a villain – i.e., the exact type of person who would get lured into Hela’s club, and who might even strike a deal with his evil sister, if he hasn’t reformed by that time.

So there you have it: a perfectly good, and perfectly Waititi, way to bring the Goddess of Death back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What do you think? Will Blanchett make a return to the role? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Obi-Wan Kenobi Headed To Disney Plus!

denofgeek.com

The great Jedi master, Obi-Wan Kenobi, one of the most legendary and respected figures in Star Wars lore, is apparently being dished out to the Mouse House’s fledgling streaming service, Disney+, in a new show set to (presumably) cover Kenobi’s exploits in the decade between the Star Wars prequels and the original trilogy.

But don’t give up hope just yet: Disney is making a valiant effort to have this show look and feel like movie-quality material – so much so, that they’ve gotten Ewan McGregor, who played Kenobi in the prequels, to reprise the iconic role. There’s no hint yet of how large McGregor’s paycheck for the series is, but I’m guessing it’s got to be pretty big to tempt the actor to the small screen – then again, he seems to have a pretty comfortable relationship with Disney already, having previously portrayed a grown-up version of Christopher Robin in the 2018 film of the same name.

As of right now, the show has no official title, so we’ll call it “Kenobi” because I like the sound of that. More details will probably be announced at Disney’s D23 event later this month, but until then we have a few things to think over.

Firstly, the fact that Kenobi is only a Disney+ streaming show is already upsetting fans (by the way, I’ve begun to spell the name of Disney’s streaming service with a + sign instead of writing the word Plus, since apparently that’s how we do things in Hollywood nowadays). That’s a pretty rational complaint: it’s still unclear how large the budgets for these shows will be, and whether they’ll actually maintain the same level of quality as the movies they’re based on – let’s not beat around the bush; people are worried that it’s going to look like a CW show. I’m sorry, CW, you get a lot of flack for stuff you have absolutely no control over (except the ridiculous costumes; those are entirely your fault), but this is how the public thinks. Some are also frustrated that someone of such prestige in the franchise would be demoted in such a way, instead of getting his own film trilogy: in my opinion, the Star Wars prequels were already a perfectly good Obi-Wan Kenobi trilogy, since he was arguably more of an interesting protagonist than Anakin Skywalker. But yeah, this news probably means that all those rumors of a Kenobi movie are just that – rumors. Even if they did come from Deadline.

As for the show’s setting, we have no indication as of yet: but we have to assume it will take place in the decade or two between The Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope, while Kenobi is off…wandering the barren wastelands of Tattooine? I don’t know about you, but a whole series of Obi-Wan just hanging out with Jawas sounds like fun to me: unfortunately though, the showrunners probably will deny us the content we deserve, and instead give us some half-baked story about Obi-Wan before he arrived on the desert planet, stoking the fires of rebellion, fighting rogue Sith lords and running into CGI reconstructions of characters from the original trilogy. Nowhere near as entertaining, I know.

Do I sound slightly cynical and annoyed in this post? It might be because I’m still trying to sort out how I feel about this news: am I happy, or am I one of those angry fans ranting about how Obi-Wan Kenobi, the greatest Jedi in history, was demoted to a Disney+ series? Or is it just because I’m annoyed that I have to use a dumb + sign from now on?

You know…it might be that.

Madness In The Multiverse – And On Disney+!

Marvel’s Phase 4 announcements at last night’s San Diego Comic-Con presentation didn’t just include a detailed outline of the movies they will be releasing over the next few years – all of their Disney Plus streaming shows were also officially announced, and even received logos and some casting announcements. There’s so much to go over in this post. Let’s start with the simplest stuff.

So Falcon And The Winter Soldier is coming to Disney Plus in Fall of 2020, and will bring with it a newly redesigned version of the villain Baron Zemo, still played by Daniel Brühl, but no longer looking quite as…dare I say, boring…as he did in Captain America: Civil War. This time around, he’s sporting a comics-accurate mask, and promises to be much more physically intimidating as well. That show looks promising, but there wasn’t much to talk about. Emily Van Camp, who will star alongside Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, was not present at last night’s panel, so that presentation mostly consisted of the two leads passing around Captain America’s shield for a minute or two.

Loki arrives in the spring of 2021: Tom Hiddleston, who returned to Comic-Con to thunderous applause, will also be returning to the iconic role – Marvel president Kevin Feige confirmed that the Loki we see in the show will indeed be the one from the past who escaped with the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame, leaving open the possibility of a return – maybe, somehow, Loki will find a way back into the current timeline.

A Hawkeye series was also confirmed last night, and it was revealed that archer, and sometimes Avenger, Clint Barton will be training Kate Bishop, a character who was rumored to appear in Endgame but turned out to be Barton’s daughter. There was no clue as to who would be playing Bishop, but Jeremy Renner will return to the role of Hawkeye – that will be in fall of 2021.

In one of Marvel’s more unusual panels of the night, a What If? animated series was confirmed for the summer of 2021 – Jeffrey Wright will star as The Watcher, a cosmic entity who observes the world’s history. Many of the Marvel stars will be joining the show for voice-acting work, starting with Hayley Atwell and Chris Evans in an episode which will explore what would have happened if Peggy Carter had taken the Super Soldier serum. It sounds…decent. But it will presumably feature the concept of the Multiverse, and that’s where things get interesting.

WandaVision is the Disney Plus show I’m most looking forward to, and we can expect that to drop in spring of 2021 – it will star Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff the Scarlet Witch, and Paul Bettany as the android Vision (Vision kind of died back in Avengers: Infinity War, and Bettany gave no indication of how he will be returning). The show will be set in the 1950s and have a corresponding retro flair (no explanation for that either), and it will also star Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau. That’s right, the sweet little girl from Captain Marvel, whom we last saw in the 1990s, will now be an adult…in the 1950s. If you’re confused now, prepare to be even more baffled as time goes on: Olsen said that this show is “weird”.

Is it any wonder, then, that the events of WandaVision will apparently lead directly into the most bizarre, freaky movie of the next phase – Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. With a title like that, the film is already promising some seriously trippy weirdness, but apparently it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before in the MCU – Benedict Cumberbatch came onstage to talk about how this film will stray near, or over, the boundaries of what can be done in a PG-13 film. Apparently it will be Marvel’s first real horror film, and will feature Nightmare as the villain. And, just as many of us had hoped, Scarlet Witch will also be in the film, presumably because of something that happens in WandaVision – possibly, she gets targeted by Doctor Strange’s nemesis Baron Mordo, whom we last saw embarking on a mission to kill magical beings across the world.

Oh yeah, and the title suggests that the whole concept of a Multiverse is real – in Spider-man: Far From Home, we thought we had seen the last of that idea when Quentin Beck revealed that his scriptwriter had made it all up. Looks like that scriptwriter knew a little more than he let on to Beck, because Doctor Strange is about to set out into the Mad Multiverse. This opens so many other possibilities, it’s hard to even think about right now.

Which of these upcoming projects interests you the most? Are you excited that the Multiverse is real? Do you like the idea of Maximoff and Strange teaming up? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

“Falcon & The Winter Soldier” Updates!

Marvel always has something going on – today had been relatively quiet, as the world calmed down after the epic Game of Thrones finale last night, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe still managed to grab some headlines this evening with the news that the upcoming Falcon & The Winter Soldier streaming show for Disney Plus will start filming in the fall, under the direction of Emmy-nominee and BAFTA-winner Kari Skogland, written by Malcom Spellman of Empire; the show will apparently premiere in August of 2020.

This news would be big enough on its own to be worth an entire post, but Marvel went one step further and even teased us with two very intriguing casting-announcements: one being Emily VanCamp, and the other Daniel Brühl, both of whom will be reprising previous roles in the MCU – those of Sharon Carter (Agent 13) and Helmut Zemo, respectively.

The VanCamp reveal might not be so startling if it weren’t for the fact that Sharon Carter’s character has been almost erased from Marvel continuity, just like…well, all her fellow Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, whose existence on the ABC network has left them too far away to share in the enormous success of the MCU proper. Carter’s unfortunate romantic relationship with her great-aunt’s former boyfriend (long story) also made her character unpopular with fans – and certain cast members. Her subsequent disappearance has not done her any favors either: I’m willing to bet most people have either forgotten her entirely or at least have forgotten what role she plays in the MCU – they’d be forgiven for that, because Sharon Carter really has nothing to do in the MCU, except flirt with Steve Rogers at her great-aunt’s funeral (yeah, that’s not creepy at all), or at other randomly inconvenient moments. Bringing her back is an interesting choice, one that could lead to potential complications – maybe this time she’ll end up with her great-aunt’s former boyfriend’s best friend Bucky Barnes, considering that he’s still single.

The Stucky shippers would riot.

Adding VanCamp – and thus, Sharon Carter – to the cast raises the possibility of Martin Freeman’s character Everett Ross also returning, since one of the only things that Carter did in Captain America: Civil War – besides flirting with Steve, of course – was standing solemnly next to Ross. Freeman already hinted that he might return to the MCU at some point after his popularity in Black Panther, so the possibility is open.

But the big reveal is the Daniel Brühl casting – Helmut Zemo was one of the most peculiar and unsettling Marvel villains to date, and his Civil War storyline was basically left open-ended, with Zemo seemingly unfazed by his imprisonment and still smirking when last we saw him: his plan to divide the Avengers, unlike those of many other villains, actually had lasting repercussions in the MCU, and in some part contributed to the crushing defeat suffered at the hands of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. The return of Zemo was being rumored a few weeks ago, but the confirmation is an exciting development: in the comics, Zemo heads the Masters of Evil, a team of dangerous supervillains – and, considering how many villains are still around in the MCU, not doing much of anything, there are plenty of candidates to choose from if one were to assemble a team like this: even Marvel president Kevin Feige hinted at the possibility.

So the groundwork has been laid for something truly spectacular – or at least something with potential. With shooting set to begin this fall, it looks like we won’t have to wait long before we get more details on this upcoming project.