Dwayne Johnson Thinks A Black Superman Will Happen Soon

Dwayne Johnson states his belief that one day cinematic comic book adaptations will see a version of Superman played by a black actor. The action star is next to be seen in The Fast and the Furious spin off Hobbs & Shaw, which features a line where Idris Elba’s villainous super soldier Brixton Lore declares himself “black Superman.”

Recent years have seen POC characters from comics begin to receive greater prominence in movie adaptations, with the likes of Black Panther and Miles Morales’ Spider-Man headlining their own movies, while the likes of Falcon, War Machine and Captain Marvel’s Maria Rambeau have played important supporting roles. It’s also worth noting that the film often seen as the first Marvel movie of the modern age, the pre-MCU Blade, has a black protagonist.

Related: Krypton Turns A Superman Villain Into The Greatest Weapon Against Zod

The subject came up when Johnson was interviewed by Variety at the world premiere for Hobbs & Shaw. When asked about how he believes Hollywood is handling inclusion and diversity in its superhero output, he was optimistic, stating that Marvel has done a “tremendous job.” Regarding DC, he has a more personal perspective – Johnson is of mixed race descent, with a black Nova Scotian father and a Samoan mother – from his upcoming starring role in the standalone film of Shazam villain Black Adam. A for the subject of a black Superman specifically, he finally quips, “You’re looking at him!” You can watch the whole statement below.

A precedent for a black Superman already exists in DC Comics canon, in the shape of Kryptonian refugee Val-Zod on the New 52’s version of Earth 2. After spending most of his life inside his escape capsule he developed agoraphobia, and had only started to overcome it with the help of Lois Lane’s Red Tornado when he was called upon to battle Kal-El, who had been revealed as a clone under the control of Darkseid for an invasion of Earth by the forces of Apokolips. Ultimately victorious over the mockery of his planetary brother, he subsequently took on the mantle of Superman and began reclaiming the world from the invaders.

From his inception, Superman has largely been portrayed as white, but such a skin tone is often seen as a ‘default’ with little bearing on who the character is, meaning that should an adaptation see them played by an actor of a different ethnicity, it would not alter the character’s fundamental nature. Such a change was recently seen in the DCEU’s Aquaman, where a character historically depicted as a pale blonde man was portrayed by the Hawaiian Jason Momoa. Having a black actor play Superman would certainly cause a stir and possibly an internet outcry even bigger than any other time a similar announcement has been made, such as recently regarding Halle Bailey as The Little Mermaid or Lashana Lynch in the next James Bond movie. The very purpose of Superman as a character is to embody everything that is good and admirable about humanity, something for which a pale skin tone is not specifically required, meaning that anyone with merely the right kind of presence, charisma and physicality would suit the role. Perhaps Idris Elba isn’t so short of the mark after all.

Next: Dwayne Johnson Likens His Black Adam Character’s Powers To Superman

Source: Variety

2019-07-15 01:07:47

Andrew Marshall

FAST & FURIOUS HOBBS AND SHAW Final Trailer (NEW 2019) Dwayne Johnson Movie HD

FAST & FURIOUS HOBBS AND SHAW Final Trailer (NEW 2019) Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Roman Reigns Movie HD
© 2019 – Universal

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2019-06-28 15:07:09

FAST & FURIOUS HOBBS AND SHAW Trailer # 2 (NEW 2019) Dwayne Johnson Movie HD

FAST & FURIOUS HOBBS AND SHAW Trailer # 2 (NEW 2019) Dwayne Johnson, Roman Reigns, Jason Statham Movie HD
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2019-04-18 12:04:49

Star Wars: Rian Johnson Working With Benioff & Weiss On New Movies

Rian Johnson and David Benioff & D.B. Weiss are working closely together as they plot the course for their respective Star Wars movie projects. This December, Lucasfilm will release The Rise of Skywalker, the ninth and final episode in the classic Skywalker saga that’s defined the franchise since 1977. However, that will hardly be the last Star Wars film to grace the big screen. The studio’s already announced plans for separate series spearheaded by Johnson and Benioff & Weiss, both of which are said to be disconnected from the generations-spanning Skywalker story.

Of course, details about these films are hard to come by, other than speculation Benioff & Weiss’ series will be set during the Old Republic era. It will likely be some time before anything’s officially announced, but the various parties are hard at work behind-the-scenes, figuring out where they want these new narratives to go. And even though the projects are presumably independent of one another, Johnson is working alongside the Game of Thrones showrunners during these earliest days of development.

Related: Star Wars Celebration 2019 Round-up: Biggest News & Reveals

In an interview with EW at Celebration Chicago, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy provided an update on the next slate of Star Wars movies. She revealed that Benioff & Weiss are more or less collaborating with Johnson at this point:

“As they finish Game of Thrones, they’re going to segue into Star Wars. They’re working very closely with Rian.”

Kennedy’s comments should not be taken to mean the Johnson and Benioff & Weiss series are one and the same or will be intricately connected. Right now, it’s more plausible the three are having conversations simply to see what they all have in mind and make sure there aren’t any blatant similarities between the two projects. It would be a shame if the first installments of each covered nearly-identical territory, since the idea here is to illustrate how vast the Star Wars galaxy is for storytelling possibilities. It’s smart for the creative teams to be bouncing ideas off each other, particularly since their films will all fall under the same canon. Perhaps they could work in organic references to each other’s movies if an opportunity presents itself.

The $1 million question, of course, is when fans will see these films come into fruition. Smartly, Star Wars is taking a break on the movie side of things following The Rise of Skywalker as Lucasfilm coordinates a slate for their next phase. Not only is it a good idea to take as much time as needed to figure everything out, it’ll also help combat any feelings of franchise fatigue by starving the marketplace of new movies. In the interim, the studio will be banking on Disney+ series such as The Mandalorian to fill the void, but in a few years, they’ll be unveiling a big comeback plan for Star Wars on film.

More: Star Wars 9 Finally Addresses The Original Trilogy’s Dumbest Moment

Source: EW

2019-04-16 05:04:16

Chris Agar

Rian Johnson Loves The Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Trailer

Rian Johnson is excited about the trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. After months of speculation and a number of theories from Star Wars fans all over the world, Disney and Lucasfilm finally revealed the title for the latest film in the saga at Star Wars Celebration, and with it the first trailer.

As expected, the trailer (and the title reveal) prompted a new wave of theories surrounding the plot and its connection to the previous film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But there’s also the excitement of fans of all ages who have been eagerly waiting for a first look at this new story, and among those is none other than Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson.

Related: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Trailer Breakdown

Via his official Twitter account, Rian Johnson shared his excitement over the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer, adding how he “melted back into being a happy kid.” Johnson is not involved with this new installment of the Star Wars franchise, so his reaction comes purely from a fan perspective, joining thousands of other fans who have reacted positively to the trailer. Check out his tweet below:

Johnson has been heavily criticized since the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi for taking the saga into a different direction. The story put an end to a number of theories regarding Rey’s parents and her potential connection to the Skywalkers, and it killed Supreme Leader Snoke without providing a proper backstory, leaving some fans unsatisfied. However, there are many fans (and critics too) who have praised his work on the film for giving it a twist that most viewers weren’t expecting.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker went through a major shake-up before production began as director Colin Trevorrow left the project citing “creative differences.” After much speculation on who would take his place, with Johnson’s name making the rounds, the studio confirmed that J.J Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) was coming back to direct the film. Johnson stepped back from the main saga, but didn’t leave the Star Wars universe completely, as he has been working on a new trilogy outside the Skywalker Saga.

Whether certain fans liked Star Wars: The Last Jedi or not, it’s heartwarming seeing Johnson’s reaction to the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer, as it reminds us that he is, first and foremost, a fan like any other – so much that he has previously stated that he wouldn’t care if the upcoming film ends up retconning his film, as long as he is entertained.

More: The Star Wars 9 Title Doesn’t Mean Rey Is A Skywalker

Source: Rian Johnson

2019-04-12 04:04:56

Adrienne Tyler

JJ Abrams is Thankful for Rian Johnson Casting Kelly Marie Tran

During Friday’s momentous Star Wars Celebration panel, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams said he’s thankful for The Last Jedi‘s Rian Johnson casting Kelly Marie Tran as Rose Tico. Officially titled The Rise of Skywalker after Friday’s Star Wars Celebration reveal, the ninth chapter in the series is expected to bring an end to the saga that began with 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope.

Plot details about The Rise of Skywalker are largely being kept under wraps of course, but Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy and company did come across with some juicy bits of information during Friday’s panel. Perhaps the biggest reveal of the day came during the official release of the first Star Wars 9 trailer, which heralded the return of the notorious Emperor Palpatine. In somewhat happier news, Lando Calrissian is also coming back for Star Wars 9, and fans were given their first glimpse of Billy Dee Williams returning to play the character for the first time since Return of the Jedi. Abrams also offered up an image teasing the new movie’s story, which involves the new trilogy’s main cast members uniting for a mission.

Related: The Star Wars 9 Title Doesn’t Mean Rey Is A Skywalker

In addition to Rey, Poe, Finn, Kylo Ren and the other new characters introduced in The Force Awakens, Star Wars 9 also sees the return of Rose Tico, who was introduced in The Last Jedi. Rose actress Tran was herself on-hand at the celebration and received a rousing ovation from the crowd (after the actress was previously forced to leave Instagram in the face of criticism from trolls). Director Abrams then paid Tran a great compliment when he singled her out as perhaps the best part of the legacy left behind by The Last Jedi and its director Rian Johnson. Abrams said “I was grateful to Rian Johnson for so many things that he did but the greatest for me was casting Kelly Marie.”

It was interesting for Abrams to nod at Johnson’s movie in any way, as there have been many questions about the direction the overall story took in The Last Jedi, and how Abrams might choose to course correct after some of the choices Johnson made. For instance, fans wonder about Johnson’s decision to definitively state that Rey is not a Skywalker but is instead, in the words of Kylo Ren, a “nobody.” Indeed, the Rise of Skywalker title could be taken as a hint that Abrams has decided Rey is a Skywalker after all, though that interpretation is not necessarily a slam dunk either.

Fans have also wondered if the new movie will pick up the thread of Finn and Rose as possible love interests after the way The Last Jedi ended, and indeed Tran herself winked at that possibility by declaring Finn an “eligible bachelor” during the panel. Abrams did reveal that The Rise of Skywalker does not begin directly after the events of The Last Jedi, a statement that will no doubt lead to a lot more speculation about the new movie trying to move on from the previous film as much as possible. For his part, Johnson has said he doesn’t care if Abrams decides to retcon The Last Jedi.

The legacy Johnson left behind after The Last Jedi indeed continues to be a point of contention for many Star Wars fans, but it’s clear that Abrams found at least one thing to like about the middle film of the new saga, and that one thing is Tran as Rose Tico. It will be interesting to see how Abrams continues the story of Rose in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

More: Star Wars 9 Theory: Rey & Kylo’s Force Connection Will Bring True Balance

2019-04-12 01:04:54

Dan Zinski

Black Adam Isn’t In Shazam – But It Still Sets Up Dwayne Johnson’s Solo Movie

Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam may not make an appearance in Shazam!, but it does do an excellent job setting up the future standalone film. Directed by David F. Sandberg, Shazam is the newest film to come from Warner Bros. and DC Films, but it is also one of the last that will happen on the timeline laid out by their original slate. When confirmation that a Shazam movie was on the way first came though, it was expected to have one major difference from the movie that is now playing in theaters.

WB had hired Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to play Shazam supervillain Black Adam back in 2014 and it was previously envisioned that the two would face off in Shazam. This plan changed dramatically over the years of development that went into the Billy Batson origin movie, especially as Johnson continued to prove to be one of the biggest movie stars on the globe. Instead of rushing to get Shazam and Black Adam on the same screen, Johnson suggested the best decision would be to split them up and get a Black Adam solo movie in development.

RELATED: Every DCEU Connection In Shazam

Although fans were still holding out hope that Johnson would make a brief cameo in Shazam to set up their future clash (especially since he was an executive producer on the film), this does not happen in the film. The movie largely keeps the focus on Billy and Sivana’s origins, but that doesn’t mean that Shazam completely ignored the one-time Egyptian king. In fact, there’s actually a fair amount of set up done for Black Adam in just a few pivotal scenes.

  • This Page: Shazam Reveals Black Adam Was The Prior Champion
  • Page 2: Black Adam’s Solo Movie Could Be A Prequel

The Previous Champion Destroyed The Council Of Wizards

When Billy Batson first enters the Rock of Eternity, he meets the last Wizard remaining from the Council of Wizards. The seven wizards are in charge of protecting all forms of magic across the world, using the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury to do so. While the Wizard (played by Djimon Hounsou) wants to pass these abilities on to Billy, he first explains why he is the last remaining wizard and being so careful to find someone pure of heart to take over.

The Wizard explains that the Council chose a predecessor in the past “recklessly” and not doing their due diligence came back to haunt them. The selected champion took advantage of these powers for his own gain and wreaked havoc across the world. He released the Seven Deadly Sins upon the world, and through their combined powers erased entire civilizations from the face of the Earth. When the Council confronted the champion about these actions, he killed every member except the wizard known as Shazam.

Related: Every Easter Egg & DC Reference In Shazam

It is not known what happened to the champion after this, but it would appear that he was subdued in some fashion. While Shazam shows enough restraint to not actually name drop who this prior evil champion is, his evil tendencies and back story sure sound a lot like a certain Kahndaq native.

Black Adam Was The Last Champion

That’s right, all of this backstory given to the Council of Wizards was actually Shazam‘s way of establishing Black Adam in the DC universe. In the comics, Teth-Adam aka Black Adam is an Egyptian slave who has seen the dictators of the country slaughter most of his family. Adam helped save his last living nephew Aman from captivity, but Adam was severely injured during their attempted escape. The two were magically transported to the Rock of Eternity at this point, where the wizard Shazam chose Aman to be the next champion and healed Adam in the process.

Aman was tasked with freeing Kahndaq from its rulers, but the kid envisioned a world where they would not be punished for their crimes. Adam did not believe this was the rightful outcome for these men after spending years of his life being mistreated as one of their slaves. Their differences results in Adam killing his nephew and taking the powers for himself.

Page 2 of 2: Black Adam’s Solo Movie Could Be A Prequel

The DCEU’s Black Adam Movie Might Be A Prequel

Based on the information Shazam was willing to share, it appears the movie version of Black Adam has been set up to loosely resemble this origin but also give Black Adam the freedom to make some changes. The solo movie is still a work in progress at this point as there is no director attached. Adam Sztykiel was hired over a year ago to write the script, and details have slowly started to surface on what it could contain. One major theory has been that Black Adam will be a prequel film that explores his origin in depth, and this looks all the more likely after what Shazam quickly mentions.

This would be the smart move for not only Black Adam but also the larger DC universe, and even give Shazam more weight in the future. This one scene between Billy and the Wizard gives viewers a lot of important information but doesn’t have the time to truly explain everything that happened or what it all means. A prequel Black Adam film would allow for just this. The movie could make Teth-Adam a somewhat sympathetic character, but also show his tragic fall as he’s consumed by the power and his own vengeance. But, what it also has the ability to do in a prequel setting is show the creation of the Seven Deadly Sins, the destruction of the Council of Wizards, and ultimately what fate befell Black Adam.

Related: Shazam’s After Credits Scenes Explained

If Black Adam does wind up being a prequel film, it would make some recent rumors about the movie even more fascinating. According to one report, Hawkman and fellow JSA members Stargirl and Atom Smasher will appear in Black Adam. While all of them are tied together through the JSA, Hawkman and Black Adam’s history dates back to centuries of old in Egypt. If they do indeed appear in Black Adam and the solo film is a prequel, we could learn that the JSA helped the last Wizard defeat Black Adam.

What Black Adam’s Origin Means For A Shazam Sequel

As exciting as Black Adam’s future (and past) in the DC universe appears to be, it will also likely mean that any confrontation with Zachary Levi’s Shazam is still a few films away. Since Black Adam is not currently ruling over Egypt in this shared universe (as far as we know), it can only be assumed that the previous Shazam – and possibly Hawkman and the JSA – were able to lock Black Adam away somewhere for the last several centuries. And, when we consider Shazam!‘s post-credits scene setting up Mister Mind and Sivana teaming up in the sequel, it would appear that there is once again no room for the ultra-power villain already.

That said, this does not mean that Shazam 2 will be completely without any references or further set up for Black Adam. Depending on what happened to Black Adam all those years ago, there’s a few different ways that a sequel could tease an eventual fight between Shazam and Black Adam. For starters, it may very well be Mr. Mind and Sivana’s plan to find Black Adam and awaken him. The sequel could show Shazam and the Shazam Family stopping them from doing so, without realizing that something happened where Black Adam could now be freed. They could even learn more about the history of the Council and Black Adam as they learn more about their magic.

But, we also don’t know that Black Adam is necessarily locked away somewhere, so the strength of a reformed Council of Wizards could potentially draw him out if he is still around. Either way, hopefully, the success of the first film will give the studios some extra incentive to move quicker on Black Adam.

MORE: Shazam’s Ending Sets Up A Very Different DCEU Future

2019-04-09 05:04:20

Cooper Hood

JJ Abrams Admits Rian Johnson Took Star Wars 8 In A Different Direction

Star Wars: Episode IX director J.J. Abrams admits his original ideas for the film that would eventually become The Last Jedi were different than what Rian Johnson ended up doing with the project. Johnson was hired for the Episode VIII job way back in June 2014, tasked with continuing the story Abrams began with 2015’s The Force Awakens. Few would have predicted it at the time, but The Last Jedi infamously went on to be one of the most divisive blockbusters in recent memory, with Johnson’s bold and risky creative choices acting as a lightning rod for countless debates.

During the build-up to The Last Jedi, Johnson stated that he had a tremendous amount of leeway while working on the movie, having only to use The Force Awakens as a jumping off point (obviously). While Lucasfilm didn’t mandate Johnson follow any preconceived plot points, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any brainstorming going on in regards to where the sequel trilogy could go next. Daisy Ridley once revealed that Abrams mapped out drafts for the remaining two chapters, but popular belief is that Johnson went in his own direction. Abrams has now said that’s the case.

Related: Rian Johnson Doesn’t Care If Star Wars 9 Retcons The Last Jedi

In an interview with Fast Company that in part touched on Abrams’ return to Star Wars, the director talked about having to follow Johnson’s film in order to serve up a satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga:

“I had some gut instincts about where the story would have gone. But without getting in the weeds on episode eight, that was a story that Rian wrote and was telling based on seven before we met. So he was taking the thing in another direction. So we also had to respond to Episode VIII. So our movie was not just following what we had started, it was following what we had started and then had been advanced by someone else.”

It is vital to understand that Abrams is not bemoaning or criticizing Johnson for doing his own thing on The Last Jedi. He liked Johnson’s Episode VIII pitch and went on record to state the polarizing Last Jedi reactions did not influence his approach to Episode IX. He’s merely explaining that a film changed story directions while it was in development, which isn’t anything new for the film industry. Arguably, it’s for the best Lucasfilm gave Johnson the freedom to break away from Abrams’ “gut instincts” and make the Star Wars movie he wanted to make. The whole point of bringing in a unique voice like Johnson is to give him a chance to flex his storytelling muscles and craft something he could proudly call his own. It’d be counterintuitive to box him in and limit what The Last Jedi was capable of.

Last year, Simon Pegg hinted that Abrams had a different idea for Rey’s parentage, but fans will likely never know the full extent of the variances between the two visions. And, frankly, at this point, it’s all moot. Regardless of what Abrams had in mind, The Last Jedi happened exactly the way it did, and now it’s up to Abrams and Chris Terrio to honor that while moving the trilogy towards its conclusion. It’ll be interesting to see what they came up with, and hopefully it ends the Skywalker saga on the highest of notes.

More: Star Wars 9 Can Finally Finish The Prequel Trilogy Story

Source: Fast Company

2019-04-09 04:04:54

Chris Agar

Every Rian Johnson Movie, Ranked From Worst To Best

Oddly enough, a filmmaker as accomplished as Rian Johnson isn’t nearly as prolific as he might seem, so ranking his movies is no easy feat. In fact, seeing as all of Johnson’s movies have been mostly well-received by critics and fans alike, ranking his films is less about following a simple spectrum of “good and bad,” and more about adhering to an inevitably biased “Sophie’s Choice” approach.

Aside from some shorts and a handful of acclaimed TV episodes, Johnson’s only directed four feature films – not including his upcoming murder mystery Knives Out. He’s dabbled in film noir and sci-fi, and he’s even borrowed some stylistic influence from Wes Anderson, whether intentional or not. Now, despite the line he wrote for Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Last Jedi about letting the past die, the Force is strong with Johnson’s past; and even though he’s certainly matured as a filmmaker, his films have been consistently well-crafted with a meticulous attention to detail from the very beginning.

Related: The Last Jedi Was Great (But Still Ruined Star Wars Fandom)

From independent roots to his current studio auteur status, Johnson has confidently let quality surpass quantity over the years. So, to celebrate Johnson’s career as he kicks off a new era of post-Skywalker Saga with Star Wars, let’s take a look at how versatile he’s been since his feature debut in 2005.

4. The Brothers Bloom

The Brothers Bloom isn’t just a strong sophomore effort, but a strong film in general. With a meticulously twisty plot layered as densely – but also as delicately – as a 20-layer mille-feuille crêpe, The Brothers Bloom is not your run-of-the-mill caper.

It centers around two brothers, Bloom and Stephen (Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo, respectively), whose entire childhood and young adult life is built on a life of con jobs and swindling. When Bloom decides he wants out, however, his brother lures him in for one last job, which tends to be the case with most caper stories. And, like other capers, The Brothers Bloom navigates to parts unknown – not only in terms of its globetrotting story, but with its multi-layered character journeys and twists (of which there are many). The brothers plan to steal a few million dollars from a wealthy heiress (Rachel Weisz), only to let love, hate, and the inevitability of double-crossing get in the way.

As usual, Johnson is at the top of his game here. The cast is more than respectable, with two Academy Award winners (Brody and Weisz), a then-rising star with Rinko Kikuchi, and the Incredible Hulk (Ruffalo); and they’re all given plenty of scenery to chew over the course of The Brothers Bloom‘s tight and complicated runtime.

3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

For fans, Star Wars is a gold standard in fiction. For its directors, Star Wars is potentially a creative death sentence. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Rian Johnson from climbing aboard and trying his hand at a galaxy far, far away.

From some points of view, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the dark horse of the franchise, with Johnson making just enough bold choices to add his unique stamp to George Lucas’ massive world. From other perspectives, it’s not the dark horse, but the black sheep, with most of the criticisms aimed at how much creative liberties Johnson was more than happy to take while running the show. So, whether you’re on Team Light Side or Dark, there’s no denying that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the most divisive entry in the franchise. That said, regardless of some strong opinions floating around the internet, it is in the opinion of this ranking that Johnson hasn’t just done justice to Lucas’ beloved franchise, but elevated it into unexpected territory, minor blemishes notwithstanding.

Related: The Last Jedi’s Trailers Created The Star Wars Backlash

As a whole, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a successful sum of its inventive parts. Between Luke’s (Mark Hamill) turn from reluctant hero to reluctant mentor, subverted expectations with alliances (as well as a few plot setups from Star Wars: The Force Awakens), and Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren’s (Adam Driver) budding, but complicated, relationship, Johnson managed to nail the Star Wars tone, while also making it feel completely distinctive (not an easy feat when it comes to handling a franchise so ingrained in pop culture). And, while it may not be a perfect film – especially to the bitter minority still upset it even exists – The Last Jedi is more than worthy of the Star Wars handle.

Page 2 of 2: Rian Johnson’s Top 2 Movies

2. Looper

Before Johnson embarked on the sci-fi genre’s No Man’s Land with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he tackled a wholly original concept with Looper. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who Johnson worked with on his first film) and Bruce Willis playing the same character, but from different time periods, the film is a time-jumping, mind-melting nod to films like The Terminator, Blade Runner, and 12 Monkeys. Set in a future in which time travel exists, Joe (Gordon-Levitt) plays someone called a Looper whose job is to kill people for the mob. The catch is that these victims are sent back in time from the future so as to keep the mob off the hook. However, when Joe’s older self (Willis) is sent back as a target, the two men enter a cat-and-mouse chase in which time is literally working against them.

Looper is an inventive piece of fiction based on the concept alone, but Johnson capitalizes on the premise wonderfully. With memorable sequences that take full advantage of the time travel aspect (at one point, a character’s future self loses parts of his body as his past self is tortured to death) and a frenetic, though carefully functioning pace, Looper is as original as Johnson’s other films, but it easily pushes the envelope the most when it comes to exploring the genre in which it’s set. At one point in the film, Jeff Daniels’ character Abe says, “The movies that you’re dressing like are just copying other movies. Do something new.” Johnson may have written that line himself, but there’s no harm in following your own advice – and that’s exactly what he did.

1. Brick

The debut entry in a director’s filmography often pales in comparison to later work in the rest of their career. There are usually hints of what’ll end up becoming trademarks in the future, but those trademarks usually need some time to marinate before they mature. For Johnson, he knew exactly what he was doing right out of the gate.

Brick is a very dramatic, very moody neo-noir; and the catch is that it’s set within a high school. The lead hard-boiled detective (Gordon-Levitt) is a high school student, the femme fatale (Nora Zehetner) is a fellow classmate, and bullies, school officials, and various outsider cliques play roles in either helping or hurting his investigation. Think of it as a John Hughesdunit. At the helm is a writer and director tipping his hat to the past, while confidently breaking new ground in a fun, but still potently tragic genre hybrid. It’s even inspired in parts by the anime series Cowboy Bebop, so there’s certainly a lot to chew on.

Out of Johnson’s entire filmography, Brick is definitely his least refined, but not to the detriment of the final product. On the contrary, it’s a bonus. Where it lacks the polish of something like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it’s swimming in gritty, low-budget flair; and where it pales in comparison to the physical scope of his other films (it doesn’t travel the world, through time, or across the galaxy), it redefines a genre and manages to avoid any tongue-in-cheek slips with characters and dialogue that might have struggled landing with a less experienced and confident filmmaker.

With Knives Out making its way into theaters in fall 2019, it’s anyone’s guess what Johnson has up his sleeves. That said, seeing as he’s already mastered the complex art of crafting mysteries, extracting flawless performances out of his actors, and wielding tension like a (Jedi) master, his fans are in good hands.

More: Screen Rant’s 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2019

2019-04-07 05:04:44

Danny Salemme

Rian Johnson Doesn’t Care If Star Wars 9 Retcons Last Jedi

Rian Johnson reveals he doesn’t care if Star Wars: Episode IX retcons any plot points he established in The Last Jedi. As anyone who follows the galaxy far, far away knows, Johnson’s entry into the Skywalker saga was one of the most polarizing blockbusters in recent memory. Some people felt the film was the refreshing change-of-pace the series needed in order to thrive for the longterm, while others thought Johnson’s bold creative choices were a bit too much and ruined the franchise entirely. The heated debates continue to this day, nearly a year and a half since the film hit theaters.

J.J. Abrams, director of The Force Awakens, took the baton back from Johnson for this December’s trilogy finale. Over the course of his career, Abrams has built up a filmography of fast-paced, entertaining genre pictures, but even his biggest fans would admit he has a habit of playing things safe in his movies, leaning more on nostalgia than innovation. Force Awakens, for example, intentionally borrowed story beats from A New Hope in order to ease viewers into a new era for Star Wars. With Abrams calling the shots on Episode IX, some are wondering if he’ll look to undo portions of Johnson’s movie with bits of fan service or reverting back to the status quo. If that were to pass, Johnson wouldn’t mind as long as he’s entertained.

Related: Theory – Rey & Kylo Ren’s Connection Will Bring Balance to the Force

While at CinemaCon (where he was showcasing his new mystery-thriller Knives Out), Johnson caught up with MTV News to chat about Star Wars. When asked about Episode IX, Johnson stated he’s only had “a couple of conversations” with Abrams and is excited to see where the story goes – even if it means some of his Last Jedi twists get retconned.

“Like I said, man. I want to let go of all my expectations, I want to sit back, I want to be entertained. I want to be surprised. I want to be thrilled. I want him to do stuff that I wasn’t expecting him to do and just go along for the ride. For me, that’s why I go to the movies, you know?”

The Last Jedi generated backlash for the answers Johnson gave to some of The Force Awakens’ biggest questions, such as Rey’s parentage, Supreme Leader Snoke’s role, and why Luke Skywalker fled to Ahch-To. These revelations didn’t line up with expectations or numerous fan theories, which upset some viewers. Though some of the negative reactions were quite toxic, nobody should expect Episode IX to be a giant course correction that reveals Rey is a Kenobi and Snoke is actually Darth Plagueis reincarnated. Abrams pitched his story to Disney the day The Last Jedi debuted in theaters and went on record saying the response would not influence what he did with the film. In all likelihood, Abrams will honor Johnson’s decisions and keep them canon. There’s always an outside chance of a retcon (Luke and Leia weren’t brother and sister until Return of the Jedi), but Episode IX seemingly has greater things to worry about than rehashing Rey’s lineage.

Thankfully, it’s only a matter of time before Johnson and the rest of Star Wars fandom get their first real taste of what Abrams has up his sleeve. This coming week is Celebration Chicago, where there will be an Episode IX panel. It’s widely thought the teaser trailer will premiere at the convention, finally peeling back the curtain on what’s arguably been Lucasfilm’s most secretive production in the Disney era. No matter what Abrams does for Episode IX, hopefully it delivers the rousing and epic conclusion the Skywalker saga deserves.

More: Star Wars 9 Can Finish the Prequel Story

Source: MTV News

2019-04-06 09:04:48

Chris Agar