“The Clone Wars”: Season 7, Episode 1 Review!

The long-running (and long-canceled) hit TV series The Clone Wars returns for its final season on Disney+ with a solid, if a bit wooden, pilot episode that gets the focus back on the Clones themselves. While the entire “Bad Batch” story arc that will kick off this season was written several years ago, this is the first time we’ve seen it played out onscreen: we’ll need to wait to see how it plays out before passing judgement, but for the moment we can assume that the clues and hints being dropped will lead to some pretty interesting interactions between our core cast of characters in the very near future.

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In the pilot, the Grand Army of the Republic, led by Jedi commanders Mace Windu and Anakin Skywalker (voiced by Matt Lanter) find themselves fighting Separatist droids using their own strategies against them. Captain Rex (who, like all Clones, is voiced by Dee Bradley Baker), enlists the help of Clone Unit 99, known simply as the Bad Batch, after whom the pilot is titled, to sneak behind the enemy’s front lines and get to the truth. The Bad Batch’s tactics are unconventional, to say the least, as one would expect from a team comprised of “defective clones with desirable mutations”.

The few action sequences with the Bad Batch are simply okay, however. Since the Batch’s strength comes from their individuality, I would have liked to have seen each of the characters’ skills exploited in clever ways: but only Crosshair, the team’s ultra-precise sniper, gets anything resembling a cool hero moment. Wrecker, the strongman, should have had one when he carries a wounded soldier out of the wreckage of an explosion he caused (one which he prefaces with the word “Boom”, delivered appropriately deadpan), but the shot is strangely framed as a close-up of Wrecker’s face, preventing you from getting the full effect.

Most of my complaints about the episode stem from the editing, which I felt was lacking. Despite ostensibly being the most violent Clones to date, the episode is cautious when it comes to actually depicting that violence: in one scene that I feel I’m probably nitpicking way too much, a transport ship is shot down by enemy fire and crashes – but where was the customary reaction shot of the pilot letting loose one final Wilhelm scream? Such a shot would surely have been shown in earlier seasons, and the whole scene feels oddly incomplete without it. Considering that The Clone Wars has never shied away from showing characters get shot, eaten by alien monsters, cut down by lightsabers, or sucked into the vacuum of space, and had built a reputation (before its cancellation for exactly this reason) of telling mature stories with a kid-friendly twist, this feels like a very different approach to storytelling, and one with which I’m not comfortable yet. Then again, we’re only a single episode in and we haven’t reached what are sure to be some of the entire series’ darkest moments.

Overall, the episode is less focused on the action than it is on the mystery, which it sets up very effectively. If you haven’t seen the episode yet, and are concerned about the SPOILERS AHEAD, then read no further.

Rex’s suspicions about the Separatists are confirmed when he and the Bad Batch break into a cyber station and decode secret communications with a human on the planet Skako Minor, who has been feeding the Separatists top-secret battle strategies. Rex is quickly able to determine that this human is none other than his long-lost teammate Echo, who was believed to have died in the battle of Lola Sayu. The operation to rescue him from the clutches of the Separatists, and specifically the repulsive Admiral Trench (also voiced by Dee Bradley Baker), will be the focus of the next few episodes – after that, we’re all in the dark as to what comes next, and how The Clone Wars, after six incredible seasons, will wrap up this final chapter of the story.

What did you think of the episode, and what are you excited to see next? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Episode Rating: 5.9/10

“The Falcon And The Winter Soldier” Can – And Should – Rewrite MCU History!

Since the day it was first announced, we’ve known (or at least strongly suspected) that the upcoming Disney+ miniseries The Falcon And The Winter Soldier will tackle some very controversial topics, that are likely to rile up certain viewers: the series will follow Sam Wilson, a black man, as he goes up against a white southern conservative “hometown hero” in a battle for the metaphorical mantle of Captain America. That alone is going to be enough to send social media into a frenzy when the show premieres this August. But a new rumor hints that Wilson might not want the mantle anyway (at least not initially) – and the reason why will rock the MCU to its foundations.

This rumor, tied into the recent casting of Supergirl actor Carl Lumbly in a key role, indicates that a dark and troubling secret about Captain America’s origins will be unearthed in the six-part series, and that this secret could deeply affect Sam Wilson. Imagine, for a moment, that the super soldier serum that turned Steve Rogers, a scrawny white kid from Brooklyn, into the massive, muscular guardian of American values, had been used on other men during the same time period, but with very different results. Imagine if these men had been injured, both physically and mentally, by the strenuous tests and experiments they went through, some to the point of death or suicide, and had received no compensation – much less recognition – for their sacrifices. Imagine if these men, who would of course be covered up by the government and kept secret for decades, were black.

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In the comics, this is exactly what happens to men like Isaiah Bradley,  who gave up their lives and livelihoods to become unknowing test subjects for the dangerous super soldier serum.  1940’s America being 1940’s America, these tests were carried out on people of color. Bradley’s character is based off the men who barely survived the unethical Tuskegee syphilis experiment, after being exposed to a then-untreatable virus and withheld medical aid for years. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Bradley can become the representative of these men, and their families and loved ones – at least metaphorically. He will also expose the horrific truth behind the creation of America’s most glorified hero.

In the comics, the experiments on Bradley and other African-American men were initiated after Steve Rogers’ creation, meaning that despite having nearly identical powers, Bradley is still considered the “Black Captain America” on the page. In the MCU, it’s unclear whether Marvel will go with that version of the story, or instead rewrite history still further and reveal that Bradley’s transformation happened before Rogers’, making Bradley Captain America, period. Either way, unless Bradley’s story occurs in flashbacks, it’s likely that the side effects of the serum will explain how he survives into the present day. We have no idea yet whether Bradley, as in the comics, will be left paralyzed and brain-damaged by the serum.

Additionally, the introduction of Isaiah Bradley will open the door to another important Marvel character: Bradley’s grandson, Elijah, who possesses powers very similar to the two Captain Americas, and is the only member of the Young Avengers team still unaccounted for in the MCU.

The uncovering of all these secrets is certain to cause ripples – not only does it force us, the audience, to retrospectively re-evaluate all of Steve’s accomplishments, but it forces Sam Wilson to rethink what he wants to do with the Captain America legacy: in particular, the star-spangled shield that will likely pass through several different hands over the duration of the show. Either he can give it up willingly, in light of the new revelations, or he can fight to reinvent the symbol and what it stands for.

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What would you do, in Sam’s place, and what do you think he will do, assuming this rumor turns out to be true? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Marvel Developing An “Agents Of Atlas” Adaptation!

Some day, Marvel will have to run out of new content to adapt to the big (or small) screen: some day, but today is not that day. Today, we have learned that the studio is planning to take yet another obscure group of characters from their seemingly endless roster and transform them overnight into pop culture phenomenons. This means that not only do we have Black Widow, Eternals, Falcon And The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki, Shang-Chi, Doctor Strange 2, What If, Thor: Love And Thunder, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, Spider-Man 3, Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, Ant-Man 3, Black Panther 2, Blade, Captain Marvel 2, Guardians Of The Galaxy 3, Deadpool 3, a possible Secret Invasion Disney+ series, and future Fantastic Four and X-Men properties to look forward to (and if I forgot any others, please let me know in the comments), but we can now possibly add Agents Of Atlas to the list.

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You may not know the Agents of Atlas, which is why I’m here to inform you that they are, in fact, quite an interesting and diverse group of characters who certainly seem like a good fit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Founded, in the comics, by S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Jimmy Woo (played in the MCU by Randall Parks), the team of Asian superheroes includes a wide variety of unique characters. The line-up changes from time to time, but a prominent member has always been Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, who will make his debut next year in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings – which, intriguingly, was just today confirmed to be filming scenes in San Francisco, where the Agents of Atlas have their roots, and where Jimmy Woo is already known to operate, as seen in the Ant-Man films. It’s thus safe to assume that an Agents of Atlas property would directly tie-in to events in the Shang-Chi origin story, as the initial report indicates.

It’s unclear whether Agents Of Atlas would end up in theaters or on Disney+, but I’m betting the team will show up first on the small screen before graduating to the big, probably in a Shang-Chi sequel. The group will probably include all its most popular members from the comics, including Shang-Chi; Jimmy Woo; Amadeus Cho, the Korean-American Hulk; Aero, a wind-manipulating Chinese woman; Crescent and Io, a South Korean girl and a giant glowing blue magic bear; Wave, a Filipina heroine with control over water; and Luna Snow, a South Korean K-Pop singer with ice powers (Silk, another important member of the team, is a little less likely since she’s a Spider-Man supporting character and thus jointly-owned by Sony). All of these characters have the potential to be really awesome in the MCU.

So what do you think? Are the Agents of Atlas something you want to see in the MCU or not? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

“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!

“Loki” And The Time Variance Authority: Explained!

The recent Super Bowl teaser which highlighted three upcoming original Marvel series’, all of which will stream exclusively on the Disney+ platform, contained a whole bunch of hidden Easter eggs, from Wanda Maximoff’s first appearance as the Scarlet Witch, to the debut of U.S. Agent. But one which required even keener eyes to spot was a clue hidden in the brief glimpse of the Loki series, which is set to premiere sometime early next year. Let’s discuss.

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The snippet of Loki footage was exceedingly brief (considering that the show only just started filming, it doesn’t seem likely that they’ve filmed much material yet), and showed star Tom Hiddleston seated in a dark room, wearing a prison uniform with the initials TVA on it (I wouldn’t have been able to figure that out: it looked like a TW to me). But while most viewers were simply thrilled to see the God of Mischief alive and well again, others took the opportunity to track down those three mysterious letters – and it didn’t take them long to discover that in the Marvel Comics, these initials refer to an organization called the Time Variance Authority.

Basically, the Time Variance Authority (or TVA) is a bureaucratic group of time-traveling judges, juries and executioners who monitor the Marvel timeline for fractures, faults and the usual sort of thing: you know, people popping up in the past and stealing important artifacts from alternate timelines, that sort of thing. They’re very much like The Commission from Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, but whereas that series only gave us a vague idea of what The Commission was capable of (or why they even existed), it looks like Loki could make the TVA a driving focus of the series’ first season. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this organization would have good reason to want to imprison the Trickster God: namely, the fact that Loki escaped from a timeline created in Avengers: Endgame, armed with an Infinity Stone and intent on wreaking havoc across time and space. That’s usually the sort of thing that gets you into trouble with the time-traveling powers-that-be.

The Time Variance Authority might also want to have a word with the Avengers themselves, considering that it was their interference with the Marvel timeline that led to Loki escaping and a number of other strange encounters: most of which, to be fair, were supposedly reversed by Captain America’s diligent work. Regardless, they’re probably not too thrilled about the idea of regular people figuring out how to operate the mechanics of time-travel, and I’d imagine they’re preparing themselves for future (or present, or past) altercations.

Thankfully, the TVA is armed with one of the most dangerous (and hilariously meta) weapons in the universe: the Retroactive Cannon – or Ret-Can, for short – which allows them to completely erase any event or person, in any timeline. The Ret-Can is exactly the sort of thing that Loki would absolutely love to get his hands on, and it could also be used by the Marvel writers themselves to change previous events or rewrite pieces of MCU history. If it’s used at all, it should be used very sparingly, as ret-conning (or ret-canning, in this case) anything is a risky move that often draws ire from fans: for instance, you could use it to, oh I don’t know, bring Natasha Romanoff back to life, but you wouldn’t want to do that with every dead hero. In Loki’s hands, who knows what this weapon could do? We don’t yet know whether the Ret-Can will show up in Loki, but in my opinion it’s a perfect MacGuffin, a.k.a. the object that all the heroes and villains want to find, use, destroy, etc, etc. (and considering how many times the MCU has recycled the same old Space Stone, it’s fair to say they love MacGuffins). And since in the comics the Ret-Can is used to execute prisoners, and Loki is seen wearing TVA prison-garb, I think it’s plausible that we will at least see it and Loki in the same room together at some point – but since we know Loki probably won’t be executed in the show, it’s also plausible that Loki finds a way to avoid the Ret-Can’s aim: which, knowing Loki, probably means he steals it. Imagine the Trickster God escaping from the clutches of his captors, with the Space Stone in one hand, and the Ret-Can strapped on his back, striding dramatically from the burning wreckage of his jail-cell – that’s Scorsese-level cinema, right there.

We know that time-travel has a part to play in the Loki series (the first-look image unofficially released last year showed Hiddleston’s character attending a showing of Jaws, circa 1975), but the TVA makes that make sense: before this announcement, the prevailing theory was that Loki must steal the Time Stone from the Ancient One; but now we know he doesn’t have to make such a detour. He could easily escape from prison and make use of the TVA’s own technology to maneuver in the MCU timeline.

And what about after the Loki series ends? Could the TVA continue to roam the peripheries of the MCU? Another swiftly-approaching Disney+ series, She-Hulk, could very well feature a guest appearance from the TVA – in the comics, she has a run-in with their organization that nearly leads to her own execution. That being said, there’s no indication that She-Hulk will incorporate time-travel, and I’d actually prefer it stay more grounded (or, as grounded as you can get when your protagonist is a seven-foot tall, bright green lawyer for superheroes).

So what do you think? Do you want to see the TVA and the Retroactive Cannon become a central plotpoint in Loki, or would you rather they just show up for an episode or two? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Marvel Disney+ Trailer Review!

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to expand onto the Disney+ streaming platform, and the first teaser trailer for their upcoming content, while extraordinarily brief (a mere thirty seconds) has already given us boatloads of new material to examine in excruciating detail. This teaser gives us our first good look at The Falcon And The Winter Soldier and WandaVision, as well as a tiny hint of Loki.

We start with a quick shot (that should go without saying: every shot in this teaser is quick) of Sam Wilson, the MCU’s new Captain America training in his backyard with the shield of his former mentor, throwing it discus-style at trees. In the same location, later in the teaser, he shakes hands with his best friend, Bucky Barnes, who has cut his hair short. There’s shots of people in yellow and black outfits sky-diving over a desert, followed by Wilson, wearing his Falcon uniform, flying through a canyon. Bucky wields a shotgun, and confronts the series’ antagonist, Baron Zemo. There’s a shot of bullets slipping through Bucky’s vibranium fingers, while Zemo watches with an impassive stare. Is Bucky being brainwashed once again by the master manipulator? Just before the series’ title font appears, we catch a glimpse of another Falcon And The Winter Soldier villain, U.S. Agent a.k.a. John Walker, attending a rally at a football game (not dissimilar to the Super Bowl, at which this trailer debuted): Walker is seen carrying Captain America’s shield, and his appearance on the field is greeted with red, white and blue fireworks, a marching band, and ecstatic reactions from the crowd – in the comics, Walker is a government puppet who takes up the Captain America mantle after concerns that Wilson, a black man, is unfit to carry the title. This series is verging into deeply divisive political territory, and I can’t wait.

I was thrilled to see that, but I was shocked when I saw that the teaser continued with a look at WandaVision, probably the most anticipated Marvel Disney+ series, and the one that we seem to know the most about. The series, which will follow Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch, as she veers off the edge and into insanity, is positioned to be the MCU’s most mind-bending venture yet, and it already looks outstanding: it starts off in black and white, channeling 50’s sit-com I Love Lucy, with Wanda, dressed in bridal attire, swooping through the door of her quaint suburban dream-house and into the arms of her cyborg husband, The Vision. But it looks like successive episodes of the series will take us on a trip through television history, as other shots seem to echo The Brady Bunch, and 80’s TV soap operas. Wanda progresses through a number of different looks in a couple seconds – going from demure, prim and proper 50’s attire to long hippie hair and hoop earrings, to plaid flannel, overalls and frizzy hair, to…hold on a moment! Blink and you’ll miss it, but there’s a single shot of Wanda Maximoff wearing her comics-accurate Scarlet Witch costume, complete with the bright red cape and half-moon tiara. 2020 can’t get any better.

Except it can, because the WandaVision teaser gets even more crazy from there, with a real-life, modern Wanda reeling as she watches 50’s Wanda on a retro TV, while confronting Vision in an entirely black-and-white house. Both characters stumble backwards, as if their entire reality is crumbling around them. Maybe it is. Who knows? All I know is that a few moments later, we see Wanda and Vision staring down at two cribs, from which pops a baby-pacifier that, once again, is so hard to see you could easily miss it. But for those who paused the trailer ten-thousand times (a.k.a. me), that’s a shocking revelation – Wanda’s twin children, Wiccan and Speed, are indeed going to be members of the Vision family, and this is our first (albeit technically offscreen) look at the Young Avengers in the MCU.

And that’s not all, because then there’s a title reveal for Loki, and a shot of the trickster god wearing a prison-uniform marked with a strange logo, and smiling as he whispers: “I’m gonna burn this place to the ground”. Not sure entirely how he plans to do that while locked up, but he’s Loki, so he probably won’t remain imprisoned for long. Seeing him alive, and back to his own tricks, is a welcome relief.

I’m honestly so excited for all three of these shows, and I want to have the power to time-travel into the near future so I can enjoy all three right now, without having to wait months. Falcon And The Winter Soldier, the closest of the three to release, comes out sometime in August, while WandaVision will probably premiere in October. As for Loki, the release date should be early Spring of 2021.

So what do you think? Which of the three looks the best, and why? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

“Mulan” Final Trailer Review!

In the final trailer for Disney’s live-action remake of the animated classic Mulan, our fearless heroine shares the spotlight with two new characters – both villains. While one of the biggest complaints about the original film was that Hun leader Shan Yu was a weak, underwritten antagonist, the same probably won’t be said of this new and (hopefully!) improved version, where the two villains standing in Mulan’s way both look to be fully fleshed-out, compelling, and absolutely terrifying characters.

Bori Khan is the black-scarfed leader of the attacking northerners who, in this film, stand in for the Huns from the 1998 film. Though I already sensed a parallel between Mulan and the Ang Lee classic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, this trailer makes that parallel even clearer by showing Khan leaping over the rooftops of the Imperial City with a host of cloaked henchmen behind him, some of them even flying or walking straight up walls – this is exactly the sort of action that I wanted to see from this movie, and I can’t believe we’re actually getting it. But thankfully, Mulan herself is equipped with the same high-flying fighting skills, which will allow her to take on Khan’s army as an equal.

But her fight for equality has made her another enemy: the ambitious sorceress Xian Lang, whose magical abilities (including the power to shape-shift) has made her Bori Khan’s greatest ally in his war against China. This new trailer hints that Bori Khan’s motivations are personal – he mentions vengeance against his father’s killers – but Xian Lang’s destiny seems a bit grander: she can briefly be seen ascending to the Emperor’s throne in a resplendent golden gown, and challenging Mulan in the Imperial Palace. Her relationship with the heroine looks to be pretty complex, and could be a strong thematic core for the film – at one point she scorns Mulan for “pretending to be something you’re not”, while later she seems to begrudgingly praise her, even smiling as she calls Mulan “a warrior”. Portrayed by Chinese screen queen Gong Li, the witch looks like a very cool new addition to the cast.

Jet Li, who plays the revered Emperor of China, also gets a single line in this trailer – the first time we’ve heard him speak in the role. Li, an iconic martial-arts star, hasn’t been seen doing any fighting in the film just yet, but I hope he gets to move from his golden throne at some point.

All in all, this movie still looks amazing – more so now than it ever has: it’s got intense action scenes, nuanced drama, high stakes, and beautiful cinematography. If you’re still upset that there’s no comedic relief dragon or songs, well, I don’t know what to say at this point. Are the orchestral arrangements for “Reflection” not good enough for you? Is that stunning phoenix a joke to you? I mean, come on, people! Mulan looks like the best Disney live-action remake to date, and I can’t wait to see it.

Trailer Rating: 9.5/10

“Loki” Could Expand Gender Diversity In The MCU!

While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had an often uncomfortable relationship with the LGBTQ+ community (and recently, specifically the transgender community), things are looking up for the future, as new reports suggest that the upcoming Loki Disney+ series could feature not only a gender-fluid star, but a transgender supporting character. This would be a groundbreaking step forward if either rumor is accurate, and could pave the way for more diversity in future Marvel films and TV properties.

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The Loki series recently began production, with star Tom Hiddleston (who, of course, plays the traditionally male trickster god and sorcerer, Loki) sharing a brief video of himself performing some high-flying stunts for an action sequence. In the MCU, Loki has only ever been a male, but while you may think that Loki’s comics-canon gender-fluidity is something that would have come up in the movies already if it were also film-canon, there have been multiple rumors that suggest Loki could shift back and forth between genders throughout the duration of the show, with Hiddleston portraying their male side, and an actress (possibly Yesterday‘s Sophia Di Martino) taking on the role of Lady Loki. It’s worth noting that the Loki we’ll see in this show is the Loki who escaped into an alternate universe during the events of Avengers: Endgame, armed with the Space Stone and possibly a method of time-travel – this isn’t the same Loki we’ve grown accustomed to in the years since 2012’s The Avengers: this is an almost completely different iteration of the character, one who might be more comfortable with their gender-fluidity, and/or more likely to come out. The show, which is also rumored to include magical Marvel villains like Amora the Enchantress, could pose a problem that requires Loki to switch between genders in order to get out of harm’s way. Who knows? There’s any number of reasons why this crucial aspect of Loki’s character is only just being seen onscreen now (and there’s still no official confirmation that it is), and we’ll just have to wait and see which one Marvel decides upon.

As for the other rumor, that a transgender actress will play an openly transgender character in the series, this is one that has been tossed around for a while: the character in question, a transwoman named Sera, was initially rumored to make her MCU debut in Thor: Love And Thunder, but new updates suggest that she will, instead, have a major supporting role in Loki – Sera is one of only a handful of transgender characters in Marvel comics, and her story is one that’s always been linked to Marvel’s Norse pantheon: born a male angel in the kingdom of Heven, Sera transitioned at a young age and was rescued from her dismal life by Thor’s long-lost sister Angela, who soon became Sera’s girlfriend. Considering that we’ve already had one of Thor’s long-lost sisters show up in the MCU, it seems a bit of a stretch to assume that we’re now going to introduce another one, which leads me to believe that either (a) Angela will not appear, and Sera’s storyline will be very different from the comics, or (b) Marvel will replace Angela with Hela, and have the popular villain return, only to find true love. That might sound absurd, but Sera does have a connection to Hela in the comics that, with a lot of just a little tampering could be the base for a solid love-story, I guess? I mean, it’s not like Hela tortured and imprisoned Sera or anything, right?

*she totally did, by the way*

Sera’s inclusion in the series is said to be the stepping stone towards a role in future MCU movies, which probably includes Thor: Love And Thunder, where, completely coincidentally, she’d likely cross paths with the bisexual Queen of Asgard, Valkyrie (who, completely coincidentally, is said to be looking for a partner in the film). So maybe instead of falling for any of Thor’s sisters, heroic, villainous or otherwise, Sera will end up with a very different but no less iconic member of the Thor mythos.

The other notable thing about this is that Sera is said to be played by a transgender actress – meaning that all that controversy earlier this year about Marvel president Kevin Feige tip-toeing around the subject of transgender representation, confirming it and immediately walking it back, could have a happy ending. All that being said, none of this is yet confirmed by Marvel or Disney. So keep your expectations measured, at least for right now.

What do you think? Will Loki and Sera be gender-fluid and transgender, respectively, in the Loki series, and how do you think the Marvel fandom will take this news, if it turns out to be true? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

America Chavez Will Appear In “Doctor Strange 2”!

It’s long been suspected that the Young Avengers team, an iconic and diverse line-up of teen and young adult superheroes from Marvel Comics, would someday join the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and in a few short months, those suspicions have been confirmed by one announcement after another, until now it’s simply a matter of time before the entire team is assembled onscreen. Today, yet another Young Avenger is rumored to be appearing in the MCU, and, assuming these rumors turn out to have any truth to them, it looks like the team is very nearly complete.

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In the comics, the most established roster of Young Avengers includes archer extraordinaire Kate Bishop (confirmed to be a lead character in the upcoming Hawkeye Disney+ series), reality-warping Wiccan and his self-explanatory twin brother Speed (rumored to be introduced in WandaVision on Disney+), shapeshifter Hulkling (currently being cast for an appearance in WandaVision), child sorcerer Loki (likely being cast for the Loki Disney+ series), size-altering Cassie Lang (already an MCU character, and now the perfect age to join the team, thanks to Avengers: Endgame‘s time shenanigans), super-strong Patriot (a bit of a question mark right now, but a possible supporting character for The Falcon And The Winter Soldier on Disney+), and universe-hopping America Chavez, whom new rumors suggest will be a key player in Doctor Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness, one of next year’s biggest Marvel releases.

The sequel to Doctor Strange’s origin film will likely involve the Sorcerer Supreme traveling through the many branches of the Multiverse (of madness) on his next adventure, and it’s not too surprising that he would encounter Chavez, who hails from an alternate reality known as the Utopian Parallel and has the ability to move through the Multiverse (of madness) using magical, star-shaped portals. A teenage Hispanic girl is apparently being cast to play the character, who will likely be one of the MCU’s first Hispanic heroines, and, if Marvel follows the comics with any sort of accuracy, their first LGBTQ+ Hispanic heroine as well. Not only is Chavez herself openly gay, but she was also raised by two mothers who sacrificed themselves trying to close a black hole that threatened their peaceful universe. Hopefully we get to see all of this onscreen, and not have it be merely alluded to (like, you know, every other supposedly LGBTQ+ character that Marvel has introduced thus far).

If Chavez does show up, she’ll probably be very helpful to Doctor Strange, who is going to need to traverse various obstacles and explore dangerous new worlds on his journey through the space-time continuum. Other companions of his may include faithful sidekick Wong, as well as Scarlet Witch and her son, Wiccan. This is just conjecture, but if Wiccan and America Chavez both show up in the same movie together, they could forge a friendship that will become the core dynamic of the Young Avengers.

So what do you think of Chavez possibly entering the MCU, and what will her role be in the Doctor Strange sequel? Who do you want to be cast as the young heroine? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

“Hawkeye” Delayed Indefinitely!

Marvel Studios’ Phase Four is sure to be just as successful as the previous three, and will almost assuredly rake in just as much, if not more, money for the studio and legendary producer Kevin Feige. So I don’t doubt that, no matter how much bad publicity may plague Phase Four right now, everything will work out just fine for Marvel and Disney: it always does. That being said, bad publicity is so rare for the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I think we should take a moment to acknowledge that, for the time being, the studio certainly seems to be experiencing some difficulties when it comes to crafting their next big master-plan, and piecing together dozens of converging subplots and story-threads. Just recently, Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness director Scott Derrickson quit the project over “creative differences” and concerns that he wouldn’t be able to meet his deadlines. Tonight, the Hawkeye series on Disney+ is the latest Marvel project to experience setbacks, as it has been put on the back-burner and shifted off the studio’s busy production schedule, despite earlier reports that it would begin filming in July.

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No official reason has been given for the series’ delay, but it looks like Disney is trying to make room for alleged star Hailee Steinfeld to fulfill her current commitments to Apple TV before joining the superhero streaming series that will (supposedly) see her suit up as Hawkeye’s young protege, archer extraordinaire Kate Bishop. According to other sources, Disney is determined to win Steinfeld, but also isn’t afraid to move on from her, if she can’t work out her own schedule to accommodate both Hawkeye and her zany historical-fiction comedy Dickinson.

It is not being reported, but some fans are already speculating that the delay is in part caused by star Jeremy Renner’s own personal scandals, which erupted into the spotlight several months ago, leading to widespread concern (or excitement, depending on how you feel about the actor) that Renner would be recast, or written off the series, with the entire focus being redirected on his younger costar. This is not something that has come up since, but it’s still worth keeping in mind.

And, if the delay drags on with no start-date in sight, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D star Adrianne Palicki already has an idea for a substitute: the actress posted on her social media that Marvel has her phone number, and should take this opportunity to contact her with the intention of writing a streaming series based around her S.H.I.E.L.D character, Bobbi Morse a.k.a Mockingbird. I’ve speculated in the past that Morse, who has a strong connection to Kate Bishop in the comics, could be a fun supporting character on the Hawkeye series, especially played by Palicki – but I have to admit, Palicki’s own suggestion sounds even cooler (I’ve never really been a fan of Hawkeye himself, to be honest).

Considering that the series premise has only had a lukewarm reception so far, even with the casting of Renner and Steinfeld, it doesn’t look like anyone is going to be biting their nails in breathless anticipation, waiting to see when the show will finally go into production – but when it does, I’ll be sure to report on it.

How do you feel about the delay, and do you think Mockingbird should get her own series instead of Hawkeye? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

77th Golden Globes Ceremony Review!

Appropriately, it was Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, a movie which celebrates a bygone era of film-making, that won big at the 77th annual Golden Globes awards last night, taking home three Globes in major categories. In many ways, the ghost of Hollywood Past was haunting the tired, slow-paced ceremony, which saw a mostly white and male ensemble of winners take the stage, during an event that felt unfocused and uninspired, barely held together by comedian Ricky Gervais, who looked bored to be hosting one of the most important events in the entertainment industry, and whose attempts to keep the audience’s attention off world politics felt sadly misguided.

Thankfully, his plea for political neutrality was steadfastly ignored by the majority of winners, many of whom took the stage to deliver impassioned speeches addressing a number of notable issues: from Best Actress In A Mini-Series Michelle Williams calling upon women to exercise their right to choose, Best Supporting Actress In A Series Patricia Arquette using her brief time onstage to demand that viewers vote in the 2020 U.S. elections, Best Actor In A Drama Motion Picture and animal-rights activist Joaquin Phoenix thanking the Golden Globes for serving an entirely plant-based dinner to the audience (a decision that was apparently met with mixed reactions), Australians Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett bringing attention to the deadly bush-fires currently raging across the country, and Best Actress In A Musical/Comedy Series Phoebe Waller-Bridge invoking the name of former U.S. President Barack Obama, who just recently included Waller-Bridge’s hit comedy Fleabag on his annual Presidential Favorites list. LGBTQ+ issues were at the forefront during Kate McKinnon and Ellen DeGeneres’ speech to honor the latter’s acceptance of the special Carol Burnett Award.

But in between these brief highlights, the ceremony still appeared outdated and backwards-thinking: outside of female-exclusive categories, women were handed a bare minimum of awards, with Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir being the exception to the rule, becoming the first solo woman to accept the award. People of color were also suspiciously absent from the proceedings, except as presenters – the exception in this case being Ramy star Ramy Youssef, and comedian Awkwafina, who became the first woman of Asian descent to win the Golden Globe for Best Actress In A Musical/Comedy. Small moments like these help to give the impression that progress is being made in Hollywood, but don’t make up for a list of nominees that is overwhelmingly representative of a long-gone period in Hollywood history – one of Gervais’ few on-point jokes was his callout of the all-male lineup of directing nominees, and his satirical suggestion that soon, Hollywood would go back to simply never hiring women directors: “problem solved”.

Anti-Disney and anti-Netflix sentiment ran strong at the ceremony, which witnessed an embarrassing turn of events for frontrunners Frozen II, The Irishman, Marriage Story and The Two Popes. Disney suffered their biggest loss of the night in the Best Animated Feature Film category, where they had not one, not two, but three nominees – all of which lost out to underdog Missing Link, a clay-mation movie from Laika Studios, in a move so shocking it even startled the Missing Link directors into near-speechlessness. Later, in the Best Original Song category, Disney was once again stunned by the surprise victory of Elton John and Bernie Taupin, who won for their work on “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” for Rocketman, beating out two Disney contenders, “Into The Unknown” and “Spirit” (both, admittedly, weak contestants). But Netflix’s film division was the biggest loser of the evening: going into the event, the main competition in both the Best Director For A Motion Picture and Best Drama Motion Picture fields had been The Irishman‘s Martin Scorsese versus Todd Phillips for Joker – but in both categories, it was neither man who took home the coveted prize, as Sam Mendes and war-drama 1917 won both times. That wouldn’t have been so humiliating if Netflix had been able to claim Best Supporting Actor In A Motion Picture (which they lost to Brad Pitt for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood), Actor In A Musical/Comedy Motion Picture (which they lost to Taron Egerton for Rocketman), Actress In A Drama Motion Picture (which they lost to Renée Zellweger for Judy, despite strong competition from Scarlett Johansson), Actor In A Drama Motion Picture (which Joker star Joaquin Phoenix easily won, beating out Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce), or Screenplay Of A Motion Picture (an award that clearly belonged to either The Irishman or Marriage Story, but went instead to Once Upon A Time In Hollywood). Ultimately, only Laura Dern was able to carve out a small victory for the streaming service, winning the award for Best Supporting Actress In A Motion Picture for her fan-favorite role as a sassy, no-nonsense divorce lawyer in Marriage Story. A small win, but a win nonetheless, and one that Netflix Film desperately needed as they continue to fight against Hollywood bias.

The event should have been high-stakes, especially with the amount of surprises, snubs and gasp-out-loud upsets that occurred, but low-energy humor from the host and presenters, coupled with slow, largely repetitive victories (winners often had to walk absurdly long distances to the stage, and a few nearly got lost weaving through the crowd, making the ceremony move even slower) made the 77th Golden Globes an unmemorable footnote in awards season history. Here’s hoping that the Oscars will repeat last year’s surprisingly effective no-host format, and give us a more rousing, entertaining, and relevant ceremony than the Globes was able to offer.

“The Falcon And The Winter Soldier” Head For Madripoor!

The Mandalorian has concluded its first season’s massively-hyped run, and now everybody seems to have one question, and one question only: what do we watch on Disney+ now, while we wait for the second season of the Star Wars serial?

Well, for the moment, you’re going to have to stick to whatever else you’ve been watching on Disney+ in between Mandalorian episodes: you could catch up on The World According To Jeff Goldblum, or binge-watch a gazillion old movies that you never even knew existed. You could just rewatch The Mandalorian, if that appeals to you. But don’t worry: Disney+ has some particularly exciting new content coming next year – Marvel Studios’ The Falcon And The Winter Soldier will drop on the streaming platform in the fall of 2020, and I’m here with all the latest updates and info to tell you why you should be excited for the series.

The Falcon And The Winter Soldier (or TFATWS: the series’ title is absurdly long, and I have no idea who came up with it) will follow the adventures of Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes in a post-Avengers: Endgame world crawling with villains and criminals of the worst sorts – Baron Zemo, the mastermind behind the Avengers’ downfall, will make an appearance, having apparently escaped from prison since the events of Captain America: Civil War; alongside him will be white Southern conservative John Walker, a homegrown hero turned brainwashed zealot who, in comics published during the Reagan administration, unofficially donned the Captain America moniker in response to Sam Wilson, a black man, carrying the hero’s title – just as there will be multiple Black Widows in Black Widow, TFATWS could introduce a conflict between the two Captain Americas, and explore the larger question of what it means to be the face of the USA, and who has the right to earn that honor. It’s unclear just how deeply Marvel wishes to dive into this political discussion, but if done correctly it could be a risky, important story that demands to be told at this moment in American history.

While unconfirmed, it looks like Zemo and Walker will be joined by a third villain – Arnim Zola, the disembodied conscious of the Nazi scientist who set up the foundations of the HYDRA organization after the Second World War. Zola’s functional brain/super-computer was destroyed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it seems that the evil genius could have found a way to live on, perhaps through the form of his children, Jet and Leo. Minor antagonists could include Battlestar and Songbird. But the biggest surprise of all, and the most recent one, is the revelation that parts of the story may take place on the fictional island of Madripoor.

comicvine.gamespot.com

Madripoor, a wealthy island paradise located off the coast of Singapore, is a crime-capital in the Marvel Comics Universe, having attracted numerous villains to its sunny beaches and seafront cities – and, thus, just as many heroes. And, interestingly, many of the characters who have visited the island in the comics are characters with upcoming Marvel movies and Disney+ shows: Hawkeye and Kate Bishop staged a daring raid on a Madripoor hotel to save Hawkeye’s reputation from being publicly ruined; Shang-Chi defeated a dragon dwelling in the ocean beneath the island; and the X-Men, including Wolverine and Magneto, have also visited on occasion. We don’t yet know who will inhabit the island in TFATWS, but it wouldn’t surprise me any if Baron Zemo had set up shop there to recruit his very own team of villains – possibly the legendary Thunderbolts, possibly a different group. Characters who could show up on Madripoor include crime lord and martial artist Tyger Tiger, who was installed as governor of the region by Tony Stark, and the mysterious vampire Sapphire Styx; both characters would provide good opportunities for Southeast Asian diversity in the Marvel roster.

Madripoor is such a fascinating location, it would also be exciting if it continued to feature in future Marvel projects – while the Hawkeye series could potentially make a stop at the island getaway, I’d love to see it as a prominent location in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, where our hero could get into some crazy fights and action sequences amongst all the casinos, hotels, and dazzling beachfront villas and boulevards.

Filming for the Madripoor sequences will likely take place in Puerto Rico, where the series is expected to film at some point early next year.

What do you think of Sam and Bucky shipping out to Madripoor, and what characters and comic-cameos do you expect to see there? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!