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Alien: Covenant Neomorph – Origin, Life Cycle & Xenonomorph Differences

Alien: Covenant introduced the Neomorph, a terrifying, albino take on the classic monster, but where did this creature come from and how is it different from the original Xenomorph? The filmmakers behind the original Alien had a hard time coming up with a unique design for the creature until screenwriter Dan O’Bannon introduced director Ridley Scott to the artwork of H.R. Giger. Scott was instantly taken with Giger’s disturbing imagery, with the title beast based off his painting Necronom IV.

When Ridley Scott returned to the franchise with 2012’s Prometheus, he wanted to avoid bringing the original creature back. He felt decades of sequels and overexposure had rendered the beast harmless, so the movie became more of a spinoff than a true sequel. While Alien: Covenant started life as Prometheus 2, fan complaints about the lack of the Xenomorph led the studio to insist the creature return. This is why Covenant became something of a fusion between Prometheus and Alien.

Related: How H.R. Giger’s Disturbing Alien Concept Art Changed The Movie

Alien: Covenant also introduced a new monster dubbed the Neomorph. The notion of an albino creature first appeared in the original draft of James Cameron’s Aliens, where white drones were in charge of cocooning victims in the hive; this concept was ultimately dropped. While the Neomorph’s share similarities with the Xenomorph, they’re also quite different.

Like the original creature, the Neomorph has a complex life cycle. They are found on Planet 4 by the Covenant’s crew, where the local flora and fauna has been infected by the Engineer’s black goo, following villainous android David 8 (Michael Fassbender) unleashing the weapon on the planet’s previous inhabitants. This caused the growth of the Neomorph egg sack, a seemingly benign fungal growth that unleashes spores if disturbed. These almost invisible spores then target and enter an available host. This leads to the rapid development and growth of a Bloodbuster sack, which quickly erupts and kills the host after a few hours.

These newborns rapidly form into Neomorphs, which like the Xenomorph is eyeless and incredibly violent. Alien: Covenant shows they lack the intelligence of the title monster, however, and mindlessly attack any available target. They lack the iconic inner jaw of the Xenomorph and instead have detachable mouths like a Goblin Shark and are easier to kill, with some well-aimed rifle fire enough to put them down. Since the two Neomorph’s found in Covenant don’t last long, it’s unknown if they share other Xenomorph characteristics like producing eggs or cocooning victims.

The design for the Neomorph itself came from the first draft of Prometheus when it was known as Alien: Engineers. Engineers was a direct Alien prequel and featured eggs, facehuggers and a new take on the original creature called the Beluga-Xenomorph, a white creature that could squeeze itself through tight spaces. The notion of a xenovirus is also borrowed from author William Gibson’s unused draft of Alien III, where an airborne contagion can rewrite the DNA of victims and create human/xeno hybrids. Like the Neomorph, this virus also came from a fungal, egg-like sack.

The Neomorphs also form part of David 8’s experiments on Planet 4 with the black goo, in his attempt to build his “perfect” creation. Alien: Covenant somewhat controversially suggests it was actually David who created the Xenomorph, though its possible he just refined an Engineer design. The Neomorph proved to be a creepy new addition to the Alien life cycle and proved H.R. Giger’s original design is endlessly flexible.

Next: Alien: Isolation TV Series Suggests Ripley Didn’t Kill Original Xenomorph


2019-04-22 04:04:24

Padraig Cotter

The Flash Just Gave Nora An Origin Story (& It’s Sort Of Like Barry’s)

“Godspeed,” episode 18 of The Flash season 5, has finally given Nora West-Allen (aka XS) a proper origin story. While the show has slowly revealed details on the life of Barry Allen’s super-speedster daughter over the course of season 5, Nora had never been given a full episode devoted exclusively to her until now.

Nora first revealed herself to Team Flash in the season 4 finale, “We Are The Flash.” However, viewers got to see Nora several times throughout the course of season 4, as she spied on Team Flash and arranged a series of accidental meetings, including disguising herself as a waiter so that she could see her parents’ wedding and talk to the father she never knew for a few minutes. The season 5 premiere “Nora” revealed how Nora had come back in time to see her father and wound up intervening in his final battle with The Thinker, altering the timeline as she knew it. However, it was not until season 5, episode 18, “Godspeed” that the audience got to see Nora’s life in the not-too-distant future of Central City 2049.

RELATED: The Flash Season 5: 9 Biggest Questions After Episode 18, “Godspeed”

The episode gives context to what few details we knew about Nora’s life in her own time. We see Nora in her day job as a CSI with the Central City Police Department – a job she took in an effort to emulate her father. We also learn how Nora discovered the microchip implant that negated her powers – an action Iris West-Allen took to prevent her daughter from further following in her heroic husband’s footsteps. Beyond establishing this continuity, “Godspeed” also gives a greater insight into Nora’s character, revealing how she was spurred to become a hero even before she found out she was the daughter of The Flash, thanks to her best friend being murdered by the episode’s titular villain, Godspeed.

It is worth noting that “Godspeed” is full of Easter eggs and nods to earlier episodes of The Flash, further drawing parallels between Nora and her father, particularly referencing back to the show’s pilot episode. Both episodes open with Barry and Nora being late for work, and fighting their way against a crowd to get to a crime scene. Both lose control of their speed the first time they use their powers and make a crash landing into the back of a laundry truck. (Barry’s was for Gambi Cleaners. Nora’s was for Gambi & Sons.) These tributes extend beyond the pilot episode of The Flash, with Eobard Thawne instructing Nora on how to use her powers to phase through a concrete wall using virtually the same words he did when he taught Barry the same trick in “Tricksters,” episode 17 of The Flash season 1.

Ironically, as this episode shows how Nora-West Allen is every inch Barry Allen’s daughter, the episode ends on a heart-breaking note where she’s seemingly rejected by the father she longed to impress. Left unable to trust Nora in the face of the revelation that she was trained by his archenemy, the Reverse Flash, Barry abandons Nora in the future and tells her never to travel in time again. This moment is all the more painful, coming after we see, in flashback, what prompted Nora to try and return to the past in the first place – a video message her father left for her, just before his disappearance, saying that he would always love her no matter what.

MORE: Who Is Godspeed? The Flash’s New Speedster Villain Explained


2019-04-20 09:04:32

Matt Morrison

Marvel Skipping Spider-Man’s Origin Story Was The Best Move In Homecoming

Marvel skipped Spider-Man’s origin in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming – and it was a smart move for the House of Ideas. Marvel has never been particularly keen on doing a rinse-and-repeat of stories and ideas that have already appeared on the big screen. That’s not been a problem with most of their characters – Robert Downey Jr. is the definitive Iron Man, after all – but with Spider-Man it was something of an issue.

Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had drastically underperformed at the box office, and critical responses had forced Sony to (temporarily) shelve their plans to build a cinematic universe out of the Spider-Man franchise. That led Marvel and Sony to strike an unprecedented deal that brought the wall-crawler into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel was clear that they wanted to relaunch the franchise once again, which meant letting Andrew Garfield go, but it meant the studio was launching the third cinematic version of Spider-Man since the year 2002.

Related: Every Way Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense Is Shown On-Screen

Marvel went to great effort to differentiate their Spider-Man from either Andrew Garfield’s or Tobey Maguire’s. They cast Tom Holland as a young Peter Parker at high school, they stressed the dynamic between their new Spider-Man and the other heroes of the MCU, and they even chose to represent some of his powers slightly differently. But the most notable difference between this iteration of Spider-Man and the previous ones was the decision to avoid re-telling Spider-Man’s origin story.

  • This Page: Spider-Man’s Origin Story Told Time & Again
  • Page 2: Spider-Man’s Origin Is A Smart Secret

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: a teenage boy gets bitten by a radioactive spider and develops incredible super-powers. At first he uses these powers for his own benefit, becoming a wrestler, and he becomes increasingly selfish. Then, in a tragic twist of fate, the teen’s uncle is shot by a criminal who he could have stopped earlier. He’s forced to learn a painful lesson; with great power must come great responsibility.

Everybody knows the broad strokes of Spider-Man’s origin. That’s the tale as told by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko all the way back in 1962; it’s been retold in countless popular animated shows, and it’s even been adapted twice for the big screen. One version was told in Spider-Man in 2002, and a revised one a decade later in The Amazing Spider-Man. The story beats have been absorbed into popular culture, in the same kind of way even a non-superhero fan tends to know Superman was sent from his dying homeworld of Krypton as a baby. Marvel always wants the MCU to feel fresh and original, and as a result they really didn’t want to repeat the same formula.

Related: The MCU’s Spider-Man Just Lost One Key Uncle Ben Connection

The MCU’s Spider-Man was introduced in Captain America: Civil War, and he’d already been operating as a superhero for several months. That single decision meant Marvel didn’t need to retread ground already explored; they could settle for just tossing in vague references, knowing that viewers would join the dots with ease. In one telling scene, Tony Stark asks this young Peter Parker why he dresses up as a superhero. “When you can do the things that I can, but you don’t,” Peter explained, “and then the bad things happen… They happen because of you.” While it clearly carried the sentiment of the famous “power and responsibility” speech, it was a very different way of putting it. In fact, where Uncle Ben’s ghost pretty much haunted the previous Spider-Men, the MCU’s Ben Parker will get his very first mention in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the fifth movie featuring Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. The trailers have already shown Peter traveling with his uncle’s suitcase, literally the first explicit nod to Ben Parker in the MCU to date.

Page 2 of 2: Spider-Man’s Origin Is A Smart Secret

But there’s another reason Marvel has chosen not to tell Spider-Man’s origin story again; it’s because they’re well aware people will think they know it, and as a result the studio can take audiences by surprise if they switch things up. As Kevin Feige explained in an interview with Cinema Blend:

“The truth is, we want audiences to bring their own… let them fill in those blanks right now. They’ve seen the other films. They’ve read comics. They can fill that in. That was a very purposeful decision we made to not retread that ground. There are little things that are said here and there that people can read into. What the specific facts are in the past, we don’t… we haven’t revealed yet.”

The significance of all this becomes clear when viewers stop to ask themselves a few key questions. Where did the radioactive spider come from? In the original comics, the spider happened to dangle in front of an experiment, and its body was suffused with mysterious energy. Dying, the spider fell towards the ground, and landed on Peter Parker’s outstretched hand. Reflexively, it bit, injecting its venom into his bloodstream, and thus creating Spider-Man. That’s the traditional origin, but it’s actually been reworked a number of times in the comics. One story arc suggested the spider was destined to bite Peter, transforming him into a mystic “Spider Totem.” It was always going to bite him, and the radiation was an accident that simply complicated things. In the Ultimate Comics version, a modernized retelling of the Marvel Universe, the spiders had been genetically engineered by Norman Osborn in order to create super-soldiers. One escaped, and bit Peter Parker when he was visiting OsCorp on a school trip. Between these three very different options, the comics allow Marvel Studios a lot of leeway. And they could even choose to do something completely fresh and new – should they ever wish to.

Related: Sony’s Three Spider-Man Movie Universes Explained

Another question: Did the spider bite only Peter, or did it go on to bite someone else as well before it died? During the “Original Sin” event in the comics, writer Dan Slott revealed that another of Peter’s classmates was also bitten by the spider. Cindy Moon was quickly ferried away by Ezekiel, a man who understood the power of the Spider Totems and who feared she would draw the attention of an interdimensional race known as the Inheritors. When Peter learned of Cindy’s existence, he broke her out, and she became the superhero Silk. Tiffany Espensen plays one of Peter’s classmates, Cindy, in the MCU – and she’s the spitting image of Silk. Cindy has yet to demonstrate any super-powers, but that could change in a future movie. Again, the fact Marvel hasn’t shown the spider-bite means the spider could easily have survived long enough to create more superhumans.

And are there any other spiders? If the MCU’s spider was an accident, then it’s unlikely to be repeated. If it was created, as in the Ultimate Universe, then the odds are good that there are other radioactive spiders out there. In the Ultimate Comics, another spider escaped OsCorp, and it eventually found its way to a teenager called Miles Morales. Miles became the Ultimate Spider-Man, one of Marvel’s most popular teen heroes, and the star of Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. He’s already been confirmed to be part of the MCU, meaning the potential is there for him to be introduced as another superhero further down the line. It all depends on just what happened.

By concealing Spider-Man’s origin, Marvel ensured they had the maximum room to maneuver. They could effortlessly write OsCorp, Norman Osborn, and the Green Goblin into Spider-Man’s backstory, and nobody would bat an eye. They could set up superheroes like Silk and Miles Morales’ Spider-Man, and it would all feel natural and organic. It really was a smart move on Marvel’s part.

More: Brian Bendis: Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse Interview


2019-04-20 08:04:28

Thomas Bacon

Kong: Skull Island’s Skull Crawlers Origin Explained

The Skull Crawlers made for unique and horrifying enemies in Kong: Skull Island, but what are the origins of these nasty creatures? Kong: Skull Island is the second installment of the MonsterVerse cinematic universe, following Gareth Edward’s Godzilla in 2014. Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ film set itself apart from Godzilla by taking place in 1973 and featuring a much brighter color palette and variety of monsters.

Kong: Skull Island featured a great ensemble cast, including Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson (Captain Marvel) and fun setpieces. Like Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of King Kong, Skull Island makes the titular location a character in itself. It’s got a teeming ecosystem filled with unique creatures and wildlife. The movie also reinvents Kong himself and in a break from previous versions of the story, the giant gorilla isn’t taken from the Island to New York in the finale.

Related: Godzilla 2 Theory: Charles Dance Is Older Tom Hiddleston From Kong: Skull Island

While Godzilla and Kong are obviously the A-listers of the MonsterVerse, there are plenty of other Kaiju to contend with. This includes the Skull Crawlers, who become the major threat of Kong: Skull Island. In fact, the reason Kong attacks the Army helicopters is that they’re bombing the island awakening the subterranean Skull Crawlers from their nests. These creatures are responsible for wiping out Kong’s family, leaving him the last of his kind.

A Skull Crawlers body is mostly made up of bone, allowing them to borrow and survive underground, in addition to withstanding bullets and other attacks. Vogt-Roberts wanted to avoid using dinosaurs in Kong: Skull Island, so the Skull Crawlers drew from a number of influences. This includes the Two-Legged Lizard seen in the 1933 original, Sachiel the Third Angel from Neon Genesis Evangelion and – bizarrely enough – Cubone from Pokemon.

The Skull Crawlers are driven by a metabolism that makes them constantly hungry, and they have two rows of serrated teeth to chew through victims. They also have extra long tongues that can shoot out and grab prey, pulling them straight into their mouths. They only have two limbs and a tail, though their muscular bodies allow them to be extra mobile on land – the tail comes in useful in combat for whipping prey also. Despite appearing somewhat mindless and aggressive, they are shown to have a degree of intelligence too. The Skull Devil, for instance, refuses to eat a soldier who attempts to sacrifice himself with explosives and instead wipes him away with its tail.

Given the absence of other large predators on Skull Island – aside from the occasional giant spider or squid – it’s assumed the Skull Crawlers ate their way to the top of the food chain. The Skull Crawlers made for a creepy foe in Kong: Skull Island and while they may not reappear in future MonsterVerse entries, they gave Kong a good warm-up for his title fight in 2020’s Godzilla Vs Kong.

Next: Kong: Skull Island Pitch Meeting


2019-04-09 06:04:22

Padraig Cotter

Who Is Cheetah? Wonder Woman 1984 Villain Origin & Powers Explained

Who is The Cheetah – the long-time Wonder Woman enemy primed to be the chief villain of the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984? Despite being Wonder Woman’s most famous enemy from the comics in popular culture, the origins of this classic character are considerably less well-known than those of many Batman or Superman foes. This may be due to three women fighting Diana of Themyscira using the Cheetah name and her backstory and powers being changed several times over the years.

The first Cheetah was a wealthy socialite named Priscilla Rich, who had no superpowers and was urged by her evil split personality to commit crimes in a cheetah-skin suit. Her niece, Deborah Domaine, became the second Cheetah after she was brainwashed into assuming her aunt’s identity by the terrorist organization Kobra. Both of these versions of Cheetah (who were basically Catwoman in a different costume) were retired following Crisis on Infinite Earths in favor of a new Cheetah who could more evenly stand against the divinely-empowered Diana of Themyscira.

Related: Everything We Know About Wonder Woman 1984

With Wonder Woman 1984 set to be one of the biggest releases of the summer movie season of 2020 and comedian Kristin Wiig cast as Cheetah, it’s time to take a deeper look at Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva and how can she possibly be a match for Wonder Woman.

  • This Page: Cheetah’s Origin & Powers
  • Page 2: Kristen Wiig Cheetah In Wonder Woman 1984

Cheetah’s Origin In Wonder Woman Comics

The current incarnation of Cheetah in the Wonder Woman comics is a woman named Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva. Like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, Dr. Minerva was a British archaeologist and heir to a vast fortune, with an affinity for seeking out artifacts that others said were purely legendary. Unlike the more famous Ms. Croft, Dr. Minerva did not have a good relationship with her father and she had no ethical limits as to what she would do to acquire the fortune and glory she longed for.

This greed drove Dr. Minerva to lead an expedition to Africa in search of a lost tribe, who was said to have a mystic female guardian who possessed the powers of the cheetah spirit. This guardian was later revealed to be the bride of Urzkartaga, an ancient plant god. While Dr. Minerva successfully found the tribe and confirmed the legends of the guardian’s existence, her expedition had been followed by bandits seeking plunder, who began killing both the tribe and Dr. Minerva’s crew.

Desperate to do anything that might save her life, Dr. Minerva agreed to undergo the ritual to become the new guardian after the tribe’s high priest told her that she would have immortality as Urzkartaga’s bride. Unfortunately, Urzkartaga was a jealous god and refused to accept any woman who had known the touch of another man as a bride. This left Dr. Minerva cursed, possessing a totemic bond to the power of the cheetah as well as an incurable blood-lust when she was in her bestial form and crippling physical pain when she appeared human. Her rivalry with Wonder Woman was born after she first encountered Diana of Themyscira and began to covet the magical Lasso of Truth that she possessed.

Related: Wonder Woman 2: How Chris Pine Can Return

This background was changed slightly in the 2016 Wonder Woman: Year One storyline by longtime Wonder Woman writer Greg Rucka. Here, Dr. Minerva was presented as a more sympathetic figure – a talented archaeologist determined to prove the existence of the Amazons, who was hired by the American government to act as Diana’s translator and tutor when she first came to Man’s World. The two women became good friends, with Dr. Minerva teaching Diana about the modern world and modern languages while learning all she could from Diana about her people and their culture.

Unfortunately, their friendship would fall apart after Dr. Minerva began seeking out evidence of other demigods like Diana in the hopes of finding a cure for the ailment that required her to walk with a cane. Financed by the sinister CEO Veronica Cale, Dr. Minerva was set up to become the Cheetah as part of one of Cale’s own evil schemes. When Dr. Minerva discovered her intended fate, she tried to signal Diana for help using a special signaling device she had been given by Wonder Woman, which had been deactivated by Cale’s allies. This caused Dr. Minerva to hate Diana, whom she blamed for abandoning her and bringing about her transformation into the cannibalistic Cheetah.

Cheetah’s Powers In Wonder Woman Comics

Dr. Minerva’s bond to the cheetah spirit through Urzkartaga enhanced her body in several respects. As her name suggests, her chief asset in her beast-form is the proportionate speed, dexterity and agility of the fastest land animal on Earth. While Dr. Minerva’s top speed in the comics has varied wildly, she is easily one of the fastest people on Earth who does not possess a connection to The Flash’s Speed Force. She also possesses a certain degree of super-strength, super-endurance and invulnerability, making her capable of going toe-to-toe with Wonder Woman in a one-on-one fight.

The connection to the cheetah spirit also gives Dr. Minerva a number of passive powers. She possesses the enhanced senses of a large cat, including perfect night vision, sharp hearing and a sense of smell that lets her track her prey by scent as well as supernaturally sharp claws and fangs capable of cutting even Superman’s invulnerable skin. She also briefly had the ability to grant a measure of her power to those she bit, transforming them into half-cheetah hybrids under her control.

Page 2 of 2: Kristen Wiig Cheetah In Wonder Woman 1984

Kristen Wiig Plays Cheetah In Wonder Woman 1984

Many fans were skeptical when it was announced that Kristen Wiig had been cast in the role of Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva, beating out rumored actresses with more experience in action roles like Sarah Paulson and Charlize Theron. Certainly, Wiig, best known for her work on Saturday Night Live and the movie Bridesmaids, is seen as more of a comedian than a serious actress. Yet she has also won critical acclaim and award nominations for her work in more dramatic works such as The Skeleton Twins and Welcome To Me.

Related: Wonder Woman 2: Why Kristen Wiig is Perfect For Cheetah

Keeping the modern interpretation of Dr. Minerva in mind explains precisely why Wiig is a perfect choice for the role. Before becoming the Cheetah, Minerva is far from a physical powerhouse and indeed requires a cane to walk. Given that bringing Cheetah to life accurately will require some degree of CGI trickery, the actor’s physicality doesn’t matter that much. What is important is that the film will probably explore the friendship between Diana and Dr. Minerva before her tragic transformation, and Wiig certainly has experience playing roles that delve into the strange friendships forged between radically different women.

Cheetah’s Role In Wonder Woman 1984

It is known that Cheetah’s background in Wonder Woman 1984 will borrow from the most recent retelling in Wonder Woman: Year One. However, it seems that something of the more sinister Dr. Minerva from the original post-Crisis comics will be in play as well. One report claims that the movie will start out with Diana and Barbara as friends and that while Dr. Minerva tries to emulate Wonder Woman, she eventually plots to usurp the power and position of her friend by acquiring the Cheetah’s powers.

The first photos of Dr. Minerva in Wonder Woman 1984 show her standing in an exhibit of African artifacts, lending credence to the theory that the origin from the Rebirth Wonder Woman series is being used. This also jibes with director Patty Jenkins’ early comments on how the movie would be a love story. It seems, however, that this love will be the sisterhood between Diana and her fallen friend rather than the romantic love she shared with Steve Trevor in the first movie.

Next: Wonder Woman 1984 Set Photo Could Hint at Cheetah’s Origin


2019-04-08 08:04:15

Matt Morrison

Star Trek: Discovery Actor Discusses Borg Origin Connections

Warning! SPOILERS ahead for Star Trek Discovery.

Alan van Sprang – who plays Captain Leland in Star Trek: Discovery – has admitted he spotted the similarities between his character’s arc and the Borg. The second season of Star Trek: Discovery has focused on the threat of Section 31, a covert branch of Starfleet who have unwittingly created a dangerous artificial intelligence that’s on the verge of wiping out all sentient life in the cosmos.

Captain Leland has been a key part of the story. A major figure in Section 31, Leland was introduced as a shady figure who was willing to cut any corners in order to meet his own inscrutable goals. Star Trek: Discovery gradually peeled away the layers of his character, with one twist even revealing that he was responsible for the apparent deaths of Michael Burnham’s parents. Then, in a shocking twist, he was apparently assimilated by Control, the rogue AI. The similarities between Control and the Borg were striking, and led to some suggestions that Discovery season 2 is secretly a Borg origin story.

Related: Star Trek Theory: Discovery Season 2 Is The Borg’s Origin

In an interview on the official Star Trek website, Alan van Sprang has admitted he noticed the similarities between his character’s arc and the Borg. An old-school Star Trek fan, he was understandably enthused at the idea.

“When I first read the script I thought, ‘Oh, is this the making of the Borg? Is that how it happens?’ We’re as much in the dark as anybody else, but as soon as I saw that, I thought, ‘This is like The Borg.’ The Next Generation‘s Borg episode just blew my mind [when I watched it originally], let alone when Picard became Locutus. That’s the first thing I thought of, which kind of tickled me to no end. Wow, I’m just going to milk this for all it’s worth.'”

It sounds as though Discovery‘s showrunners like to keep the actors in the dark when it comes to the show’s overarching plot. According to Van Sprang, the cast typically go script-for-script, with absolutely no idea what’s coming next. Initially, he thought Leland was a protagonist who would only be in a couple of episodes, and was surprised at the part expanding in a rather more sinister direction. While he now views Leland as a very manipulative, ambitious figure, he does insist that he was never an antagonist. Of course, now he’s essentially the embodiment of Control, he’s literally the main villain of season 2.

However, the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, “Through the Valley of Shadows,” seemingly disproves the theory that Control will become the Borg. It revealed that Control’s modus operandii may look similar to the Borg, but it’s actually very different; Control actually kills its targets, and then uses nanotechnology to replicate them. Burnham and Spock made the grisly discovery when they stumbled upon Kamran Gant, an apparent survivor of one of Control’s acts of homicide, but in reality part of a trap laid for them by the ruthless AI.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s no indirect link between Control and the Borg; it’s known that Control will become completely genocidal after exposure to data collected on artificial intelligences by an ancient sphere, data that is now stored on the Discovery. The sphere had spent millennia traveling the cosmos collecting this information, so perhaps that included knowledge of the Borg, and the Collective inspired Control’s monstrous goals.

More: Star Trek: Discovery Shows How Pike Got His Original Series Injuries

Source: Star Trek

Star Trek: Discovery streams Thursdays @ 8:30pm on CBS All-Access and internationally the next day on Netflix.


2019-04-07 09:04:00

Thomas Bacon

Pennyworth Teaser Trailer: Batman’s Butler Gets An Origin Story

Batman’s butler Alfred Pennyworth gets an origin story in the teaser trailer for Pennyworth. The Caped Crusader’s caretaker, housekeeper, guardian, and often disapproving father figure has been portrayed by numerous actors over the years, going back to Alan Napier’s run as Alfred on the 1960s Batman TV show. Michael Gough would later go on to play Alfred in four movies (and opposite three different Batman actors), followed by Michael Caine’s turn in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and, most recently, Jeremy Irons’ vest-loving Aflred in the DCEU films Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League.

Elsewhere, on the small screen, Mr. Pennyworth has recently been played by Sean Pertwee on the live-action FOX series Gotham. Pertwee’s Alfred is a relatively younger and more militaristic mentor than his predecessors, partly because Gotham takes place when Bruce Wayne is still a teenager learning the ropes of being a costumed vigilante. He’s also a man with a mysterious and dangerous past that’s been alluded on numerous occasions, but never fully explored. While Pennyworth isn’t necessarily an origin story for Pertwee’s Gotham character, the teaser trailer alone suggests it easily could be (with a few tweaks).

Related: All 25 DC Movies & TV Shows Arriving in 2019

The Pennyworth teaser trailer is now online, ahead of the show’s premiere on Epix sometime this summer. You can watch the (short) preview in the space below.

While the preview runs a mere 17 seconds, it nevertheless offers a nice introduction to the show’s young Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon) and his James Bond-esque lifestyle. Indeed, when Pennyworth picks up, the show’s namesake is an ex-British SAS soldier who starts up a security company in 1960s London, and goes to work for Bruce’s billionaire father Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge) shortly after. The teaser suggests the series will strike the tone of a pulpy period espionage adventure, complete with all the cloak and dagger dealings, gun fights, knife fights, steamy encounters, and Alfred channeling his inner suave secret agent that one could ask for.

The show’s tone comes as little surprise either, seeing as Pennyworth hales from producers Danny Cannon and Bruno Heller, aka. the minds behind the decidedly bonkers Gotham. For its fans, there’s something irresistible about Gotham‘s brand of ridiculousness, and the latest Batman prequel series looks to offer something similar, for those interested. The first season will run for ten episodes and feature a cast that includes Polly Walker (Mr Selfridge), Dorothy Atkinson (Harlots), Jason Flemyng (Jamestown), Jessica Ellerby (Benidorm), and singer-songwriter Paloma Faith in recurring roles. Expect to see more of them when the full trailer drops.

MORE: Batman’s Alfred Pennyworth Has An Awesome Origin Story

Pennyworth premieres this summer on Epix.

Source: Epix


2019-03-29 11:03:49

Sandy Schaefer

The TRUE Origin of Batman’s Logo is Finally Revealed

Warning: SPOILERS for Detective Comics #1000

The gun that killed Batman’s parents may be the single most important weapon in the history of DC Comics. And thanks to an iconic team of storytellers in Detective Comics #1000, the true fate of the gun has been revealed in the most beautiful way possible.

The landmark issue of Detective Comics is FILLED with short stories fans will be talking about for years to come, told by some of the industry’s most respected writers and artists. And with writer/director Kevin Smith joining forces with Jim Lee and Scott Williams (Batman: Hush), fans knew they were in for something special. Even so, they’re not going to be ready for this touching tale, guaranteed to be incorporated into comic book canon for thousands of fans.

As Detective Comics #1000 reveals, the weapon that tore apart Bruce Wayne’s life is also the thing that keeps his new identity alive. So that he may fight in honor of his parent’s death, and use their memory to protect, and no longer wound. Get your Kleenex ready, Batman fans.

  • This Page: Batman Finally Finds The Gun That Killed His Parents
  • Page 2: Batman Uses The Gun as His New [SPOILER]

Everyone even casually aware of Batman knows the scene in which Thomas and Martha Wayne are shot to death in a Gotham City alley. Regardless of the motivations, or whether or not Joe Chill pulled the trigger in a given version of the tale, the point is the same. Young Bruce survives, but his life does not. He is transformed into an avenger of the innocent, fighting to prevent the same tragedy from striking others–and refusing to use the weapon that stole his parents’ lives.

But that doesn’t address the actual gun used to murder the Waynes, leaving future writers to address the weapon in their own way. In the Justice League movie, Batman had Joe Chill’s gun in a display case in the Batcave, just like Thomas Wayne in DC’s Flashpoint timeline. A reminder of why he does what he does… but intensely dark, when you think about it. For Detective Comics #1000, Kevin Smith finds a better way to pay tribute.

Joe Chill’s gun has been glimpsed a few times over the years, but in mainline DC Comics continuity, the canonical location or fate of the pistol hasn’t been established. The short story “Manufacture for Use” by Smith, Lee, and Williams finally solves that mystery, with Bruce donning his go-to undercover identity of ‘Matches Malone,’ seeking out a black market collector of true crime ‘souvenirs’–mementos of Gotham’s most iconic villainy.

The shop has a few Easter Eggs for Batman fans, but there’s only one thing Bruce has come looking for: a gun. Not just any gun either, but the one that ended the life of Thomas and Martha Wayne, which the vendor remarks “must’ve broke their poor kid.” For a cool $1,500 the gun is returned to Bruce… allowing him to decide its fate, once and for all. Beware, heart-wrenching SPOILERS incoming.

Page 2 of 2: Batman Uses The Gun as His New [SPOILER]

It’s unclear exactly why the issue begins by showcasing so many wounds being inflicted upon Batman by various villains. Well, technically, wounds that would have been inflicted, had the attacks not been aimed directly at his chest, and the bright yellow Bat insignia daring his enemies to strike. It was Frank Miller who originally explained the insignia and Bruce’s decision to have it brightly colored, suggesting it was intended as a target. In a sea of black fabric, a bright yellow bullseye is an easy mark–allowing Bruce to reinforce the suit most heavily over his vital organs.

But the reminders spread throughout this short story are more than they first appear to be (evidence of the “over-the-top crime” the vendor is selling via souvenirs). Joker’s acid flower. Firefly’s flamethrower. Killer Croc’s claws. Scarecrow’s scythe. Bane’s fists, and Harley’s hammer, all endured thanks to the armor covering Bruce’s chest. But what seems to be a testament to Frank Miller’s justification is revealed to be much, much, more. Especially when you realize that these battles are set after Bruce acquires the pistol.

With the gun acquired by ‘Matches,’ Bruce returns it to the Batcave just as Alfred arrives seeing the same scene mentioned before: Bruce silently contemplating the pistol in a display case, brooding as he is wont to do. Thankfully Alfred is allowed to speak the protest so many comic book fans have in the past, openly questioning Master Wayne’s decision to dwell on the object. Having made that painful memory into a righteous mission to do good, why return to worshiping the “hunk of metal” that was used to murder his parents before his eyes?

RELATED: The Worst Version of Batman Revealed By DC Comics?

Even more thankfully, Bruce reveals that the gun’s placement in the Batcave is only temporary, granting him the time to prepare for his true intent. Rather than venerating the gun that stole his parents’ lives, Bruce is determined to destroy it. This short story in Detective Comics #1000 solves the riddle of the final resting place of Joe Chill’s gun, showing the night that Bruce toiled away, deep in the bowels of the Batcave, to melt the pistol down so it could never take another life… but the story doesn’t end there.

After finding the gun that killed his parents, and after melting it down into a lump of molten metal, Bruce has guaranteed it can never again be used as intended when it was first manufactured. Recognizing that he now destroys the gun, just as it destroyed the boy he once was, Bruce sets about forging the gun, as well, into something else. Something better. We’ll let Smith’s writing do the talking as the pistol’s ultimate fate is finally revealed:

“It’s not going into the trophy collection, Alfred. This gun was never fired at me, but it still scarred me for my life. I grew up broken and sad after this hunk of metal took everything from me. And who knows how many other lives it’s ruined? Or ended. But after tonight, it’s never going to hurt anyone again. I’m going to make that metal pay for its sins. I’m going to burn the metal that killed my parents. And forge it into something useful. So the metal that broke my heart as a child? That same metal will protect my heart as a man. And That is justice.”

Pushing aside the heartbreak, the tragedy, and the superheroics, comic fans always understood that the gun which ended Thomas and Martha Wayne’s lives ended up saving countless more. It may have taken eighty years, and 1,000 issues, but thanks to Kevin Smith, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair, and Todd Klein, Bruce finally found justice for his parents.

This story, and many more can be found in Detective Comics #1000 at your local comic book shop, or directly from DC Comics.

MORE: Batman’s New Robin is His Favorite Yet (Ours Too)


2019-03-28 03:03:56

Andrew Dyce

Shazam! Review: A Charming, If Uninventive Superhero Origin Story

Shazam! is a wildly fun superhero adventure, with plenty of humor and heart, but struggles at times to strike a good balance between levity and drama.

The latest entry in Warner Bros. and DC Films’ unofficially titled DC Extended Universe, Shazam!, introduces viewers to one of the sillier superhero premises in the franchise. A teenage boy is granted powers by a magical staff-wielding wizard, and in doing so, gives the boy the ability to transform into an adult superhero – fully equipped with a bright red suit and white cape. However, to avoid Shazam! veering too far into campiness, screenwriter Henry Gayden and director David F. Sandberg work to balance the silliness with a grounded backstory and an OK villain. Shazam! is a wildly fun superhero adventure, with plenty of humor and heart, but struggles at times to strike a good balance between levity and drama.

In a world where Superman, Batman and Aquaman are known superheroes, Shazam! introduces the 14-year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a troubled foster kid who spends more time looking for the mother who abandoned him than trying to acclimate to any of the foster families he’s been placed with. That all changes when he’s placed with the Vasquez’s, meets superhero buff Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer) and is turned into a superhero himself. After gaining godlike powers from the Wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) and becoming the hero Shazam (Zachary Levi), Billy needs Freddy’s help to figure out what abilities he possesses. It’s a fairly typical origin story as far as superhero movies go, though Shazam! has a new twist because we get to experience it through the eyes of two kids who are more full of wonder and excitement than responsibility.

But the movie also explores that aspect of Shazam!‘s origin in a compelling way, asking the question of what a kid would do if granted superpowers – especially one who has no loyalty but to himself. Billy and Freddy’s friendship is undoubtedly the heart of the movie, grounding it in a way the premise of Shazam! needs to feel believable in the real world. But the film never does shy away from poking fun at its own premise, typically through humor excellently executed by Grazer, Levi and Angel. The convenience store scene is a particular standout moment and exemplifies the uproarious fun Shazam! has with its premise. Where Shazam! struggles is in some of the more dramatic moments, particularly Billy’s backstory about how he became part of the foster system and his search for his mother. It’s all necessary to his character arc, but certain scenes feel more contrived to move that emotional storyline forward than provide any real pathos. Altogether, though, Billy is an interesting enough character who undergoes a fairly standard journey to becoming a superhero.

Like many superhero origin stories, too, Shazam! toils under the effort of developing its villain enough to be a compelling foil to Billy Batson. Shazam! does give Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) his own backstory in an effort to establish him enough, but the movie doesn’t quite get there. Although Shazam! reveals Sivana’s motivations to become a villain, he’s still rather one dimensional. On the script’s surface, Sivana does make an interesting foil to Billy, but Sivana never really becomes more than a one-note villain. In fact, he works best in humorous moments with Billy/Shazam when he’s positioned as the straight man in the superhero’s comedy schtick. Strong’s melodramatic performance, contrasted with Billy’s more grounded tone and humor, makes for some of the film’s most entertaining moments.

Since Shazam! focuses most of its time on Billy and Freddy, and to a lesser extent Sivana, the movie doesn’t quite have time to develop the characters of the Vasquez family. Darla (Faithe Herman) is a scene-stealer as the talkative youngest member of the foster family, and the rest of the kids – Mary (Grace Fulton), Eugene (Keith Choi) and Pedro (Jovan Armand) – get moments to shine. Though they’re instrumental enough to Billy’s origin story, the movie simply doesn’t have enough time to spend with the other kids. That said, they do contribute to the overall theme of family in Shazam! and since this film is only an origin story, they are one of the aspects of the movie that has a great deal of potential to be further developed in a possible sequel.

Ultimately, Shazam! is a different kind of DC movie than those that have been released in recent years, but that derives from Sandberg and Gayden building the film from a character-focused standpoint. Because Shazam has a sillier origin story, it makes sense for the movie to be on the lighter, more humorous side. Though it still has moments of darkness and drama, they are mostly earned by the film, even if the balance isn’t always quite right. On the other hand, Shazam! isn’t necessarily reinventing the wheel and largely sticks to a standard superhero origin story. The filmmakers have added a twist by combining superhero action with the dramedy of Big – and some meta humor in a similar, if PG-13 vein as Deadpool – to craft an entirely enjoyable experience in Shazam!, even if at times it feels more like a hodgepodge of other movies. Still, fans of DC and superhero movies will no doubt want to check out Shazam! for its action and heart, and a delightfully fun time at the theater.

Trailer

Shazam! starts playing in U.S. theaters Thursday evening April 4th. It is 132 minutes long and it’s rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action, language and suggestive material.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments section!


2019-03-23 03:03:39

Molly Freeman

Shazam’s Origin Story, Powers & Movie Changes Explained

Shazam! introduces the DC Extended Universe’s newest superhero, but what are his powers and how does his origin story compare to the comics? Created by writer Bill Parker and artist C.C. Beck, the character now known as Shazam debuted in Fawcett Comics’ Whiz Comics #2 in February 1940. His creation was inspired by the success of DC Comics’ Superman but in his 1940s heyday, the red-clad superhero originally known as Captain Marvel was more popular and outsold the comics starring the Man of Steel.

Shazam is a pure wish fulfillment character. His hook is that a young boy named Billy Batson can simply say a magic word – “SHAZAM!” – and he is transformed by a magic bolt of lightning into the World’s Mightest Mortal, who possesses the combined powers of six mythical gods and heroes. Unlike characters like Superman and Batman, who were adults at the peak of their abilities, Shazam enabled the power fantasy of children to magically become heroes themselves. Shazam also fights evil alongside the Shazam Family (formerly known as the Marvel Family), where his Billy’s sister Mary and his friends like Freddy Freeman also could transform into heroes with similar powers and became his teammates, which broadened the character’s appeal.

Related: Shazam! Trailer 2 Breakdown: 17 Secrets You Missed

Shazam’s publishing history is complicated. A long legal dispute with DC led to the character’s cancellation and the bankruptcy of Fawcett Comics. As the rights to Shazam/Captain Marvel languished, rival publisher Marvel Comics assumed the copyright and created their own character in the 1960s named Captain Marvel – which eventually led to the Marvel Studios blockbuster feature film Captain Marvel. In the 1970s, DC began publishing comics about the original Captain Marvel under the title Shazam. For decades, both Marvel and DC claimed a hero named Captain Marvel until DC permanently renamed their hero Shazam in 2012.

But now that the World’s Mightest Mortal is starring in his own feature film directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out), here’s what you need to know about how the movie changes his comic book origins, and what Shazam’s superpowers are:

  • This Page: Shazam’s Comic Book Origin And Movie Changes
  • Page 2: Shazam’s Powers Explained

Billy Batson’s Origin Story As Shazam In The Comics

The basic details in Whiz Comics #2 of how Billy Batson gained superpowers and became a champion for good have remained intact for almost 80 years. Billy, a 12-year-old orphan, is lured into an abandoned subway station where a magical subway car transported him to the Rock of Eternity, the magical lair of an ancient wizard named Shazam. By speaking Shazam’s name, a bolt of magic lightning transformed Billy into Captain Marvel, a superpowered adult in a red suit, yellow boots, and a white and gold cape, with a lightning symbol on his chest. Captain Marvel was charged with a mission to fight as a champion for good by the wizard, who promptly died (but eventually returned). Whiz Comics #2 also introduced Captain Marvel’s evil arch-enemy Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, who will also oppose Billy in the Shazam! feature film, where he will be played by Mark Strong.

One of the aspects of Captain Marvel that made him unique was that he was no lone caped crusader – he soon spawned an entire family of similarly attired and powered heroes, the Marvel Family, which included his sister Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel, Jr., Uncle Marvel, etc. Billy’s origin story would also receive a few tweaks a few decades later: the 1987 miniseries Shazam! The New Beginning turned Dr. Sivana into his uncle and the 1994 Power of Shazam! graphic novel introduced Billy’s dead archeologist parents. Both of these soft reboots tied Shazam’s need for Billy to become a superhero to the emergence of Black Adam, the wizard’s original champion who turned evil. Dwayne Johnson was cast as Black Adam in the DCEU years ago and he is still expected to headline his own film starring the “Anti-Hero” before someday meeting Shazam in a movie.

Related: Every Shazam! Comic Moment Adapted For The Movie

In 2012, Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank rebooted Shazam for DC Comics’ New 52 era: Billy is now a troubled 15-year-old full of attitude who comes to live in a group home in Philadelphia. When Dr. Sivana unleashes Black Adam, the ancient Wizard Shazam begins abducting people to find someone “pure of heart” who could be his champion. Shazam finds Billy by also bringing him via magical subway car to the Rock of Eternity, but the orphan convinces the wizard that perfectly good people don’t really exist. Desperate, Shazam decides the potential to be good is enough and gives Billy his powers, transforming him into the magical superhero now called Shazam, before the wizard died.

Billy quickly confides his new alter ego to Freddy Freeman, his roommate in the group home, and they exploit the benefits of Billy being in an adult superhero’s body before Black Adam attacks Shazam. The superhero not only had to battle Black Adam but also the Seven Deadly Sins, which Adam had unleashed on Philadelphia. Shazam did so by bestowing his powers on the other children in his group home – Freddy, Mary Bromfield, Pedro Peña, Eugene Choi, and Darla Dudley – turning them into the Shazam Family.

Shazam’s Origin Story In The Movie

The Shazam! movie closely follows the origin established by Johns and Frank’s New 52 comics: Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a 15-year-old orphan in Philadelphia who comes to live in a group home run by Victor (Cooper Andrews) and Rosa Vazquez (Marta Milans). Also living in the home are foster kids Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), who becomes Billy’s roommate, Mary Bromfield (Grace Fulton), Pedro Peña (Jovan Armand), Eugene Choi (Ian Chen), and Darla Dudley (Faithe Herman).

Billy is rebellious and plots to run away from the home, but after he saves Freddy from school bullies, Billy runs into the subway where he’s magically transported to the Rock of Eternity – the source of all magic in the world. There, the ancient Wizard Shazam (Djimon Hounsou), who is the last of the seven members of the Council of Wizards and is seeking a champion to pass his powers to, has chosen Billy to be his champion and say his name. Despite Billy mocking the name “Shazam”, the boy is transformed into the adult superhero version of himself played by Zachary Levi. Shazam’s mission is to battle Thaddeus Sivana, who unleashes the Seven Deadly Sins upon the world (the statues that once contained the evil sins in the Rock of Eternity are seen smashed in the trailer when Shazam recruits Billy).

In the original Fawcett comics, Captain Marvel actually switches places with Billy Batson after transformation and is a different person. The British comics series Marvelman, a.k.a. Miracleman in the United States, written by Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman explored this body-switching concept in disturbing detail. However, in the 1980s, DC Comics Captain Marvel/Shazam was rebooted to be Billy Batson in his perfect adult body. The Shazam! movie also follows suit so that Zachary Levi’s superhero is the idealized adult version of Asher Angel’s Billy, with a nod to the classic Tom Hanks film Big.

Page 2 of 2: Shazam’s Powers Explained

Shazam’s Powers Explained

Shazam’s awesome superpowers are magical in nature and he accesses them by saying the name “Shazam!”, which transforms Billy Batson into his adult alter ego via mystical lightning. Shazam’s powers are derived from six “immortal elders” who also lend the first initials of their names to the anagram “SHAZAM”. Although his abilities bear many similarities to Superman, as they are both super strong, super fast, and able to fly, Shazam has several powers the Man of Steel lacks:

  • Solomon grants Shazam his wisdom. In the comics, the wisdom of Solomon gives Billy access to scholarly knowledge as well as the ability to translate foreign languages and other benefits of mental acuity. Shazam can also use Solomon’s wisdom to hypnotize people. It remains to be seen how much of Solomon’s wisdom Billy will utilize in the film – but he certainly realizes that with his adult body, he’s able to buy beer.
  • Hercules grants Shazam his sheer physical strength. In the comics, Shazam is known as the World’s Mightiest Mortal and his strength is on a par with Superman’s. In the film, we know Shazam is strong enough to catch a falling bus but it’s very likely his might far exceeds even that impressive feat.
  • Atlas grants Shazam his stamina. Shazam is impervious to most forms of physical injury and possesses superhuman endurance. The Shazam! trailer clearly establishes that bullets bounce off of him the same way they do Superman.
  • Zeus grants Shazam his power, specifically the power of lightning. Shazam is a magical superhero and can summon the mystical lightning of the king of the Greek gods as an offensive weapon (or to charge people’s cell phones). He can use the lightning to transform back and forth from Billy Batson and in the comics, he can also transfer his power to others using Zeus’ lightning.
  • Achilles grants Shazam his courage in battle as well as his fighting skills. Shazam faces monsters and magical menaces without fear, although in the film, Shazam is also really a 15-year-old boy and he has to overcome his fears to access the courage of Achilles.
  • Mercury grants Shazam his speed and the ability to fly. Shazam can move at superhuman speeds both on foot and flying through the air. In the comics, Shazam can fly at the speed of light; it remains to be seen how fast the movie’s Shazam can fly (and whether Superman will need to race him someday like he did the Flash in Justice League).

However, Shazam is much more than a magical version of Superman and, in the comics, he has performed many other amazing feats. For instance, the wisdom of Solomon grants him clairvoyance of when danger is present and lets him see through illusions and even through evil schemes. Shazam had “Marvel Breath”, which could either be freeze breath or fire breath. Because he possesses the Wizard Shazam’s magic, he can also cast spells (he once conjured a ping pong table for Justice League headquarters). Shazam can also use the lightning to teleport, either to the Rock of Eternity or elsewhere, if he chooses not to fly. It remains to be seen whether Billy will wield any of these other powers in Shazam!

Next: The Best Moment From The Shazam! Trailers Isn’t In The Movie


2019-03-17 09:03:27

John Orquiola