Avatar: The Last Airbender Prequel Tells ‘The Rise of Kyoshi’

Every fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender knows that no matter how mighty an Avatar may become, they are only the latest in line… and unlikely to ever match the legendary Kyoshi; one of the strongest, greatest, and most fearsome Avatars that had ever lived. Now thanks to her very own prequel novel, the story of The Rise of Kyoshi will finally be told.

The Last Airbender series allowed its hero, Aang, to commune with the previous incarnations of the Avatar. Aang relied mainly on Avatar Roku, his immediate predecessor. But as his story, and later The Legend of Korra offered a glimpse of the Avatar before Roku–an imposing woman named Kyoshi of the Earth Kingdom–it was clear one of the most intriguing stories in the Airbender universe was being held for a later date. Thanks to writer F.C. Yee, that time has come, with The Rise of Kyoshi and the announced Shadow of Kyoshi recounting the origins of the Avatar. And based on our time with the book and our interview with Yee, fans are going to have a LOT to talk about when the book arrives on July 16th, 2019.

RELATED: 20 Fan Theories From The Avatar Universe (That Make Too Much Sense)

Reading through the accomplishments of Kyoshi’s life, the shadow she casts over the future that followed only grows longer. The longest-living Avatar (and human) after dying at the age of 230. The one person Chin the Conqueror couldn’t overcome. The founder of the Kyoshi Warriors, who make their home on the island Kyoshi forced free from the mainland–one of the most stunning uses of Earthbending fans will ever find. Screen Rant had the chance to speak with F.C. Yee about shaping this origin story with Avatar co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino, building out the world before The Last Airbender begins, and much, much more.

You’ve made it no secret that you were a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender before tackling this novel. There don’t seem to be too many ‘casual’ fans of Avatar, but can you tell us a bit about how this project first came to your attention, and how being a fan factored into your response? Was it a matter of seconds before you were on board with telling Kyoshi’s story?

During a conference where I was promoting my debut novel The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, the publisher at Abrams, Andrew Smith, turned to me and cryptically asked “Are you a fan of Avatar by any chance?” Of course I told him yes, but after that we didn’t say anything further about it. I knew that Abrams had a prior working relationship with Nickelodeon on some children’s books so I may have had some inkling why he’d ask that out of the blue, but I never brought it up again (probably out of fear of jinxing whatever project might be brewing).

Months later, I found out that Abrams had submitted a proposal to Nickelodeon for a prequel novel series about Avatar Kyoshi, and that all parties were game for it if I was. I was shocked at the size of the project and thrilled that it was focused on my favorite of the pre-Aang Avatars. The fan in me said YES, immediately. My agent translated my enthusiasm into a calmer, more rational response, and from there, we moved forward.

The Rise of Kyoshi is a story that you shaped with Avatar co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino, a driving force in building and expanding the lore to begin with. What was that collaboration like when it came to sketching out Kyoshi’s story–and at what point did you get to take the reins and start putting words to paper?

Mike, Nickelodeon Editor Joan Hilty, Abrams Editor Anne Heltzel, and I did a significant amount of outlining and “axe-sharpening” before I started writing. Mike is a master storyteller, so in those first few calls he was less concerned with technical lore and more focused on giving me guidance about characters, motivations, and forces of antagonism. He let me pitch a lot of different ideas and follow their progressions in outline form. Eventually, we came to a story direction that we thought worked for the character and the universe, and I started writing on my lonesome.

The amount of time we spent up front was immensely valuable. Because we made the creative investment, I clocked my production rate at four times my historical average (I am a tech nerd; this is how we talk). Mike and the other parties involved gave me the perfect combination of feedback and hands-off trust to run with the story. I didn’t stick perfectly to the outline, but the skeleton allowed me to build the rest of the book with confidence.

It’s almost funny to watch the series now, and see Kyoshi introduced as what must be one of the most intriguing Avatars and characters in the world of Avatar… and then realize her full story hasn’t actually been told! Were you one of the fans who wanted to know more about her when the opportunity first arose? Was that a ‘dream come true’ scenario or added pressure, knowing you’re the one who’s finally telling it?

Years ago, I adored the glimpses of Avatar Kyoshi we got in the series since so much was conveyed about her in a small number of scenes. She was almost like a Boba Fett whose actions and attitude backed up her reputation. For me, watching the shows, her appearances as a foil to Aang were so effective and satisfying that I honestly hadn’t given that much thought into wondering more about her personally until I started writing these books.

Once I had the opportunity to write her backstory though, the possibilities exploded, and I became eager to figure out what paths led her to become the person we see in the show. It was both a dream and a terrifying, pressure-filled experience. If I botched her story, I’d never forgive myself as a fan, not to mention disappointing the community that loves this universe.

To travel back to the start of Kyoshi’s story, readers are brought into a different world than the one they know from Avatar and Korra. Without spoiling anything, what should readers be prepared for, or know heading in? Because the temptation to pause on just about every page and dive into the Avatar wiki is going to be hard to resist (…I may be speaking for myself here).

I drew upon history for thematic inspiration (more so than direct events), which meant the setting of this book is woven with a lot of internal turmoil. Nothing is monolithic, and the greatest threats are often the ones closest by. I wanted to capture that feeling when you read about a crisis that happened in the past and marvel at how people back then managed to keep everything together. Institutions and beliefs that we’re used to from “current” times may not have formed or solidified yet. It’s a bit darker in parts than the shows, hopefully not gratuitously so. Some of that is due the above, and some due to its category as a YA novel.

The Rise of Kyoshi also expands on the mythology and history in ways that open up new stories. Was that part of the goal, or an added bonus in the process? I think The Fifth Nation in particular is going to be a prime example.

Those new possibilities are more of an added bonus since the primary purpose of their inclusion was to support Kyoshi’s story. In order for them to feel sufficiently rich though, they got a level of detail that could be fruitful for whatever creator that might want to use them.

The Fifth Nation, for example, is loosely based off the forces of the pirate queen Ching Shih, plus a lot of pirate history in general. While I simply wanted them to be effective and believable seaborne marauders, it meant hinting at more stories the reader isn’t seeing.

Kyoshi is noteworthy for more than just her status, since she is one of the few, and likely the most influential LGBTQ+ character in the larger Avatar universe. I’m sure there are fans of the series who will only now discover that, so was it something you felt important to include?

I did feel that was very important to include. Kyoshi is mentioned to be bisexual in the Legend of Korra: Turf Wars comic. Some readers will be coming into the book already knowing that and looking for how her love life is portrayed, and others might be discovering it in the novel itself. Either way, since since media representation is so important, it felt crucial not to leave her relationships out.

Kyoshi feels particularly timely, and complex in this novel: she’s underestimated, strong, formidable, and feared, but she isn’t perfect, either. Fans know her legacy is a mixed one, with massive successes and questionable or even bad calls. Since her origin story can’t really address that legacy directly, did it still factor into the start of her journey?

Absolutely. One of the main goals of this story was to convince readers how it was possible for Kyoshi to create the mixed legacy she did. If I wasn’t going to show her dropping Chin the Conqueror as an adult, I was going to try to show how she became the type of person that would do so without remorse. She starts out very different than the person we see in the show; since narrative arcs demand change, her end affects her beginning from a creative standpoint.

The Avatar fans who can’t stand the wait for The Rise of Kyoshi can also dive into your Genie Lo novels (Epic Crush and the upcoming Iron Will), to see another fierce young woman chosen for greatness. Was the transition from those books to Kyoshi as almost ‘fated’ as it now seems?

There is admittedly a great deal of overlap. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is about a nigh-invulnerable young woman who hates injustice and isn’t afraid of confrontation. I believe that part of the Avatar pitch was pointing at the existing book I’d written as a demonstration I could handle Kyoshi’s story. The humor and action-comedy nature of ATLA was undoubtedly a big influence on the Genie Lo series.

In some sense it felt similar going from Genie Lo to Kyoshi. Both protagonists would rather move mountains than let evil get its way. But ultimately I found myself focusing on their uniqueness. Genie is hot-tempered and quippy but deep down, a big softy inside. Kyoshi is level-headed, a woman of few words, and well, we all know how soft her personality ends up being.

Rise is just the first of two novels diving into Kyoshi’s story in the larger Avatar universe, so in that sense, the ending isn’t really ‘the end.’ Without spoiling, how do you hope readers will feel once they put down The Rise of Kyoshi after that final page?

I guess I hope readers feel a bit like Kyoshi herself- struck by the sudden realization that while the beginning may have ended, there’s so much more business to take care of and story to tell.

The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee arrives on Tuesday, July 16th, with the second book in the series The Shadow of Kyoshi to follow.

MORE: Everything Aang Did Between Last Airbender & Legend of Korra

2019-07-13 05:07:40

Andrew Dyce

Gotham Series Finale Review: Batman Prequel Series Punts In Its Final Hour

Throughout its five-season run, FOX’s Gotham made a point of marching to the distinct beat of its own campy drummer. But while the show’s take on the crime-ridden streets of Batman’s home town and his classic rogues’ gallery of villains stood out for being deliberately exaggerated and theatrical, it never quite managed to be the show it could have been. That’s not to say Gotham had to be yet another attempt to ape the stylistic and tonal aspirations of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, but it wouldn’t have hurt if the series felt as though its approach to storytelling was more than throwing remixed versions of Bat-villains against the wall to see what sticks. 

So much of the final season of Gotham has been a mixed bag of ambition and inevitability. The show’s producers have long said that the Caped Crusader won’t make an appearance until the series’ finale, leaving the 12 episodes of this last season with a lot of heavy lifting to do, so the show’s resident Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) would be ready to don the cape and cowl before spending his nights punching bad guys really hard. That was in addition to the ‘No Man’s Land’ storyline that dominated much of the first 11 episodes of the season. After the city was separated from the rest of the U.S. and besieged by roving gangs headed up by the likes of Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), and more, what remained of the GCPD — including James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) — was left to maintain some semblance of control. That was until Bane (Shane West) showed up and everything went predictably to hell. 

More: Cobra Kai Review: Karate Kid Sequel Series Continue To Defy Expectation In Season 2

As far as final seasons go, that premise isn’t bad. Gotham City has always been the problem child the rest of the DC Universe would rather forget about, and putting its survival on the line like that (despite the obvious comparisons to Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises) fittingly raised the stakes for the series. And to see Gordon and Bullock paired up with Penguin, the Riddler, and more to save the city from destruction made for the sort of story the show often struggled mightily to be: one not about the rise of Bruce Wayne to become Batman, but that of Jim Gordon, the titular city’s other protector. 

In many ways, last week’s ‘They Did What?’ served as the series’ official series finale, with ‘The Beginning…’ serving as more of a coda to the overarching story. With the city saved and Bruce on his years-long quest to become the hero his city needs, Gotham was ready to hand the reins over to its pointy-eared protector, but what the series actually delivers is a shallow pastiche of previous Batman origin stories, one told too hastily and from too many different perspectives to deliver a truly dramatic punch, much less an enticing new spin on the character’s early days. 

The issue stems mostly from the decision to jump forward 10 years in time, putting the characters in the unenviable position of having to explain what’s transpired over the last decade, while also dealing with the arrival of Gotham’s golden boy. Bruce’s homecoming is hamstrung by the fact that Mazouz only makes a brief appearance at the episode’s beginning, before the time jump takes place. And while the series scores some points for the clever casting of in Lili Simmons (Banshee), as the now-grown Selina Kyle, Selina’s role as the cat burglar extraordinaire Catwoman feels unmoored from the character viewers have gotten to know over the past five seasons.

It’s a problem that carries through the hour as the arrival of both Bruce Wayne and Batman is the talk of the town, but both characters are shunted off to the margins, with Bruce never actually being seen and Batman only showing up in his bargain-basement suit at the episode’s end. Throughout the episode, Gotham seems to be wrestling with how much time it wants to devote to the character audiences have been waiting to see, with the awed reactions of street-level characters like Gordon, Bullock, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), and Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk). In the end, it the hour winds up punting on both accounts. 

Credit to Taylor and Smith who are tasked with screaming through most of the episode as they’re either revealed to be patsies in Jeremiah Valeska’s grand scheme to dunk Gordon’s daughter in a vat of Ace Chemical-brand green goo, or are besieged by an offscreen guy presumably dressed up as a bat. Cameron Monaghan, meanwhile, gets to be the Joker — but not in name — wearing some garish makeup and doing his level best to sound sort of but not too much like a mashup between Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger’s versions of the character. In the end, neither Jeremiah nor Penguin and Riddler have any sort of meaningful run-in with the Batman. Instead, that’s saved for Selina, who speaks to Bruce without ever making eye contact (otherwise the show would have to focus on his costume), in a scene that provides little to none of the emotional closure either character probably should have had in that moment. 

Though it often succeeded in being exaggerated and weird, Gotham struggled to match its odd-duck status with its ambitions to be a compelling comic books story. As the final hour demonstrates, the series was ultimately too concerned with where Bruce Wayne was headed when it should have been more invested in what the arrival of Batman meant in the city for which the show was named. 

Next: Bosch Season 5 Review: TV’s Most Reliably Entertaining Cop Show Returns

Gotham seasons 1-4 are available to stream on Netflix.

2019-04-25 06:04:46

Kevin Yeoman

8 Things We Know So Far About The Sopranos Prequel Movie

In what became one of TV’s most iconic and ambiguous endings, The Sopranos left fans demanding more when the series finale suddenly cut to black, as Italian-American mobster, Tony Soprano, sat down to dinner with his family. Thankfully, this isn’t the last we’ll see of the Sopranos, as shooting for a prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark, commences this year. Set to hit theaters in 2020, the film comes more than 13 years after the acclaimed HBO series portraying modern-day mobsters came to a close. This time, fans will see younger versions of beloved Sopranos characters in Newark, New Jersey, set against the backdrop of the race riots in 1967. After the tragic passing of star James Gandolfini in 2013, a prequel is the ideal way to bring back the life of Tony Soprano without having to recast such an iconic role. Here are all the things we know so far about Newark.

RELATED: 10 Best Episodes Of The Sopranos

8 Sopranos Original Alumni To Produce

The Sopranos creator and head-writer, David Chase, is returning to the New Jersey turf of his iconic production, this time with a big-screen prequel. Chase’s acclaimed HBO series ran for six seasons, from 1999 to 2007 – with many claiming The Sopranos to be his greatest production of all time. Chase wrote the prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark, alongside former colleague and Sopranos staff writer, Lawrence Konner, who received sole credit on three Sopranos episodes, and previously wrote for Boardwalk Empire. Directing the film is Alan Taylor, who also served as director on nine Sopranos episodes, as well as seven Game of Thrones episodes, and on Thor: The Dark World.

7 Set in 1960s Newark, New Jersey

The Sopranos storyline will journey all the way back to New Jersey in the 60s, in Newark – a time when racial tensions were high between Italian-Americans and African-Americans. Shooting for the prequel film recently commenced in Brooklyn, and in a few weeks, will continue at the original home of the Soprano family.

RELATED: 15 Things You Never Knew About The Sopranos

The film will be partially set in the ’60s during the time of the Newark race riots. According to the timeline established in the original HBO series, Tony Soprano (portrayed by James Gandolfini) would be seven years old in July 1967, indicating there may be at least two actors to portray the future New Jersey mob boss – including the late James Gandolfini’s teenage son, Michael.

6 Michael Gandolfini To Play Young Tony Soprano

In January this year, director David Chase confirmed there will be a young version of Tony Soprano in The Many Saints of Newark – and who better to play the role than the late James Gandolfini’s 19-year-old son, Michael. An actor in his own right, Michael Gandolfini has appeared in five episodes of HBO’s The Deuce last year, and will be stepping into his late father’s iconic role as a young Tony Soprano – and future New Jersey organized crime family boss. Although the filmmakers carried out an extensive audition process to find the young Tony, Michael Gandolfini eventually won the role with his strong resemblance to his father and ability to mimic his mannerisms.

5 Alessandro Nivola To Play The Lead

Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle) will play Richard “Dickie” Moltisanti – the central character of Newark. Though he never appeared in The Sopranos, even through flashbacks, Dickie loomed largely over the story, especially as part of Christopher’s (Michael Imperioli) backstory as his late father who was gunned down when Christopher was young.

RELATED: 15 Secrets You Didn’t Know About The Sopranos

Dickie is also known for having mentored the up-and-coming New Jersey mob boss, and for being the cousin of Tony Soprano’s wife, Carmela (Edie Falco). Nivola says the prequel film will explore the interlocking history of Dickie and Tony Soprano, explaining his character will be “a charismatic but violent made man who falls in love with his father’s much younger bride, a recent immigrant from Italy”, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

4 Michela De Rossi And Vera Farmiga To Star

Italian actress, Michela De Rossi, will play the lead alongside Nivola – an ambitious Italian immigrant who has recently settled in Newark, and the woman Dickie falls in love with. De Rossi is joined by Vera Farmiga, (The Conjuring), John Bernthal (Wolf of Wall Street) and Goodfellas star and mobster veteran, Ray Liotta – initially David Chase’s preferred choice to play Tony Soprano. Fans will be glad to learn some of their favorite Sopranos characters will be returning as younger versions in next year’s film. Though their roles are undisclosed, fans have expressed that Farmiga would be an excellent choice as a young Livia Soprano – Tony’s mother, originally played by Nancy Marchand in the HBO series.

3 The Return Of Sopranos Characters

The prequel film’s time period leaves room not only for Richard “Dickie” Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), but also for Tony Soprano’s mother and father, Giovanni “Johnny Boy” and Livia Soprano, and Tony’s uncle Junior. Fans may also get to see younger versions of Jackie Aprile Sr – the first acting boss of the DiMeo crime family – and Carmine Lupertazzi Sr, boss of the Lupertazzi crime family in The Sopranos series.

RELATED: 19 Things Fans Completely Missed In The Sopranos

It’s also possible younger versions of Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri, Johnny Sack and Tony Blundetto will feature. While the casts roles are undisclosed, it’s possible Ray Liotta, or the recently cast John Magaro (The Umbrella Academy), Corey Stoll (First Man) and Billy Magnussen (The Big Short) could play the original characters in their earlier days.

2 Sopranos Final Scene Diner To Appear

New Jersey’s Hoslten Ice Cream Parlour and Eatery – the location of the final scene of The Sopranos series finale – is reported to appear in David Chase’s forthcoming prequel film.

RELATED: 20 Things Tony Soprano’s Work Family Is Forced To Obey

The restaurant housed the infamous scene where Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and his family noshed on onion rings before the diner door opened, bell rung, and the scene suddenly cut to black – implying Tony Soprano might have met his demise. Co-owner of the restaurant confirmed that HBO had been in contact with the owners, and will be shooting some scenes there.

1 Hobby’s Delicatessen Rumored To Appear

Production for the prequel film has been tentatively scheduled to come to Branford Place, between Washington and Broad streets in the second week of May – a stretch of Newark that is home to Hobby’s Delicatessen. In The Sopranos, Tony’s work family spent much of their time in restaurants, delis, diners, and clubs. It’s no surprise then that Hobby’s deli, owned by a local family since the ’60s, is rumored to be used for the prequel film. The downtown deli – one of the only establishments to have survived the Newark riots 50 years ago – provides an authentic shooting location for the prequel film, set to hit theaters on September 25, 2020.

NEXT: The 10 Most Influential TV Series Of All-Time

2019-04-12 01:04:58

Jessica Mascione

Rogue One Prequel Gets 2021 Premiere; Alan Tudyk Returning As K-2SO

Lucasfilm’s Cassian Andor live-action Star Wars series is confirmed for a 2021 premiere on Disney+, and Alan Tudyk is returning as K-2SO. The actor first appeared as the character in 2016’s spinoff film Rogue One, where he quickly became a fan-favorite character. A reprogrammed Imperial droid, K2 was known for his blunt sense of humor and undying loyalty to Cassian. The two had a long history that was only hinted at in their lone big screen appearance, leaving viewers wanting to see more of the duo in action. A one-off comic exploring the origins of their partnership was published in December 2017.

Last year, Lucasfilm announced plans for a Rogue One prequel series, dubbed as a spy thriller revolving around Cassian’s time with the Rebel Alliance. Just based on the premise, many fans assumed K2 would be a part of the ensemble as well, though Tudyk himself played coy about his possible involvement when asked a couple months ago. But now, everyone knows the actor (and longtime Disney good luck charm) is going back to the galaxy far, far away.

Related: Every Star Wars Series Coming to Disney Plus (Confirmed & Rumored)

Today during Disney’s Investor Day presentation, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy announced Tudyk’s role on the Cassian show. In their press release on the matter (via, the studio stated the series will go into production later this year in order to meet a 2021 launch date.

Tudyk’s return was always to be expected, but it’s still nice to see it be official. In Rogue One, he had strong chemistry with Diego Luna, and it’ll be fun to see them interact onscreen again. One of the benefits of the Disney+ platform is it gives the Mouse House’s various subsidiaries a place to tell long-form stories that the movies simply do not have time for. Similar to how Marvel is using the streaming service as an outlet for shows revolving around Falcon & Winter Soldier and Vision & Wanda, Lucasfilm is looking to flesh out various corners of their own canon to complement the feature films. If executed properly, the Cassian show will make Rogue One an even better movie, since audiences will get to see plenty other adventures Andor and K2 went on prior to their fateful mission on Scarif.

Sadly, fans still have a ways until they’ll actually get a chance to see what showrunner Stephen Schiff and his crew cooked up. The 2021 release date is likely a byproduct of production reportedly commencing in late 2019 due to Luna’s commitment to Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico. In all likelihood, episodes for the Rogue One prequel will be filming into 2020; The Mandalorian started principal photography in October 2018 and didn’t wrap until February 2019. Fortunately, there will be lots of other Star Wars content coming out over the next couple of years to make the wait a little more bearable.

More: How Rogue One Brought Back Princess Leia


2019-04-11 08:04:42

Chris Agar

Grease Prequel Movie Titled Summer Loving In The Works

A Grease prequel movie, titled Summer Loving, is in the works. Back in 1978, Paramount decided to adapt the successful Broadway musical Grease to the big screen. The production had built up considerable momentum by that time and Hollywood seemed the next logical stop for such a proven crowd-pleaser.

Though the film version of Grease roughly follows the same plot as that of the stage version – a teenage “greaser” called Danny (played by John Travolta) falls for a respectable Australian transfer student Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and the two must learn to deal with the differences in their respective social circles – it did remove several characters, plot lines and songs from the original production. New songs were added, as well as characters and different scenarios were explored that had only been mildly alluded to in the Broadway version. Another change for Paramount was toning down the vulgarity and lewdness that was present in the stage production, in order to make the film version slightly more palatable to a wider audience demographic.

Related: Where Are They Now? The Cast Of Grease

Now, just after forty years since the big screen adaptation was released, THR has revealed that Paramount is looking to revive the Grease brand with a prequel. The new film will aim to recount the very first meeting between Danny and Sandy – which both teens sing to their friends about in one of the most well known songs from Grease, Summer Nights. In keeping with the song’s summertime references of teenage romance, the new film will be called Summer Loving.

As of this writing, there isn’t any information on when the film might be released, which actors could potentially fill the shoes of Travolta and Newton-John, or if any of the original Grease cast members will be returning. With the original film having been set in 1958, it stands to reason that Summer Loving will also be set in the ’50s. What we do currently know, however, is that the new film will be scripted by John August, who has long been a familiar talent in Hollywood, having written a variety of films for director Tim Burton, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride and Dark Shadows. August is also responsible for co-writing the script for Disney’s upcoming live-action Aladdin remake.

When it comes to musicals, Grease has proven that a well made production with memorable characters, dancing and songs can thrive at the box-office and beyond. It’s tempting to dismiss a Grease prequel as little more than an effort on the part of Paramount to revive past glories, but as the six time Oscar-winning La La Land proved as recently as 2016, there is still life left in the musical, and audiences will respond positively if it’s well done. That’s likely to be a source inspiration for Paramount as they get set to tell us more about Summer Loving.

More: 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Grease

Source: THR

2019-04-09 03:04:49

Mike Jones

Star Wars 9 Can Finally Finish The Prequel Trilogy Story

Star Wars 9 has an amazing opportunity to perfectly close the story George Lucas told in the Star Wars prequels. Since cameras rolled, Episode IX has been billed as the end of the Skywalker Saga that Lucas began in 1977 with Star Wars, something that has been reiterated by all involved, most recently Oscar Isaac (via The Today Show): “It is the end of the entire Skywalker saga. Nine stories, and this is the culmination of the thing, and I think what J.J.’s done, and really the whole Lucas team, is going to be incredibly fulfilling.

That quote makes clear we’re talking an end to all the movies in the Skywalker Saga, including the Star Wars prequels and not just A New Hope onwards as some would be inclined to believe. When Disney first bought Lucasfilm in 2012, many were still burned the more slapdash writing and immediately dated effects of the heavily-hyped Episodes I-III and so it was believed the House of Mouse would carefully sidestep anything with even a tangential relationship to Jar Jar Binks. And yet not only has the new era of Lucasfilm roundly embraced The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith – this year’s Star Wars Celebration is themed around Episode I for its 20th anniversary – fans have become to warm to Lucas’ messy-but-driven films in the wake of the massive divide in the wake of Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Related: Star Wars Fandom Has Finally Got Over The Prequels – Thanks To Disney

If Isaac’s words are to be believed, then Star Wars 9 isn’t just closing the book on the stories of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Rey and Kylo Ren, but also those began in the prequel trilogy. And that’s a good thing, because when it comes to the real meaning of this entire saga, it doesn’t make sense without ideas first laid down in The Phantom Menace.

  • This Page: The Star Wars Prequel Story Isn’t Complete (And The Sequels Have Continued It)
  • Page 2: How Star Wars 9 Can Finish The Prequels Properly

The Star Wars Sequels Are Already Prequel-Influenced

The new Star Wars canon has been primarily focused on the sequel trilogy and expanding the world of the originals, but that doesn’t mean there’s not been a place for the prequels. Star Wars Rebels, the first official piece of new canon, was a stealth sequel to The Clone Wars, and both Star Wars Stories, Rogue One and Solo, have co-opted prequel ideas to tell the story of the Empire’s rise; most overtly Bail Organa and Darth Maul respectively, but the Easter eggs are plentiful.

But even in the banner sequel trilogy, the prequels can be felt. Star Wars: The Force Awakens shied away from anything too overt, having to essentially soft reboot the franchise with multiple generations of fans, yet still managed to slip in references to Clone armies and a Coruscant-style Republic capital. Most importantly, its opening line discussed “balance in the Force“, a concept first introduced in The Phantom Menace; from the very start, the sequels were rooted in the prophecy and spiritualism of the prequels.

This was properly expanded upon in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Luke’s exile was ostensibly a reaction to having Ben Solo turn to the dark side as a result of his own actions, but the legend’s continued resistance to the Force was rooted in a dislike of Jedi dogma and prophecy, with a tirade to Rey that summarized the events of the prequel trilogy and even namechecked Darth Sidious. While the notion that the Jedi were hypocritical and outmoded was seeded in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi when Yoda and Obi-Wan commanded Luke to kill his father, incorrectly believing him beyond hope, it was only in the prequels that the full subversion of the heroic space knights really came to the fore; and it’s this version of the Jedi, stoic monks that enabled galactic catastrophe, that has so repulsed Luke.

Related: Disney Star Wars Continues The Prequels More Than The Originals

And that’s nothing for how Kylo Ren holds up a mirror to pre-suit Anakin Skywalker, showing a powerful young man wronged by his elders who finds solace in power that eventually corrupts him. The Last Jedi ends with Ben Solo having killed his master, Snoke, and assuming the mantle of Supreme Leader; going into Star Wars 9, he is now the unhinged monster that the prequels teased his grandfather could become.

The Star Wars Prequels Left A Lot Unresolved

In all this discussion of Star Wars prequel ideas and themes, it’s worth noting there was a lot left unsaid when what was then the final film ended in 2005. From a narrative perspective, these movies are rather tight, if anything too much so: the ending of Revenge of the Sith beelines right into the status quo of A New Hope (despite the 19-year-gap), seeing every major original trilogy character slot into place. That’s fine enough, but this ending didn’t quite resolve everything that Lucas had discussed.

Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader, yet so many of the core questions surrounding his fall remain. Were the Jedi doomed to failure? What was the true nature of the prophecy: what do “Chosen One” and “Balance in the Force” really mean? Who was Darth Plagueis and how does he connect to Anakin’s immaculate conception? How did Qui-Gon learn the “path to immortality” and Force ghosts?

Some of these questions have been given answers or expansions by non-movie canon. The Clone Wars brought Qui-Gon back a few more times while a recent comic confirmed that, as suspected, Palpatine created Anakin as a tool to bring down the Jedi. But the fact those heavily-hinted outcomes needed such overt clarification attests to how unclear so many of the spiritual ideas of Episodes I-III were. That the prophecy and belief in a Chosen One was itself a mistake is clear, but because these ideas weren’t ever a part of the original trilogy, it’s unclear what conclusion we’re meant to draw from Vader’s eventual redemption; was he the Chosen One after all, was it Luke, or is the whole idea of destiny mute against family and love? You can have it any, all and none of these ways. And that’s where Star Wars 9 can come in.

Page 2 of 2: How Star Wars 9 Can Finish The Prequels Properly

What Does Star Wars 9 Being An Ending Actually Mean?

Star Wars 9 is in an odd narrative position for an ending. After The Last Jedi served as a culmination of Luke’s arc and the exploration of the Jedi and hope, Episode IX must not only be a conclusion but a set up to that conclusion; whereas Avengers: Endgame and Game of Thrones season 8 have direct precursors that moved chess pieces in place, Star Wars Episode VIII pretty much reset the board. This makes discussing any form of finality tricky. It can’t be concluded Iron Man will die or the Iron Throne’s fate decided because there’s no Iron Man or Iron Throne left.

Related: Star Wars 9: The Big Lesson JJ Abrams Must Learn From The Force Awakens

As an ending to the Skywalker Saga, there’s a lot of onus on the one Skywalker of the new generation, Ben Solo. With the confirmation Rey is nobody, Kylo Ren becomes the last of Anakin Skywalker’s lineage. His death, an end to the family that has shaped the galaxy’s fate for 60 years, is certainly a bold move that would line up with the “everyman hero” idea Lucas pushed with Luke Skywalker in A New Hope and Johnson returned to with his Broom Boy.

Even with rumors about what Star Wars 9‘s plot entails, it’s incredibly hard to get even a baseline understanding of what J.J. Abrams has cooked up. And without narrative established, knowing where themes will land is borderline impossible. But, with the prequel ideas threaded through the Star Wars sequel trilogy and a lot big ideas still floating in the ether, there’s some very exciting ways it could go.

How Star Wars 9 Can Finish The Prequels

There’s a history of theories tying the prequels in the sequels in bold ways. That Snoke wasn’t Jar Jar Binks was obvious (to most) in The Force Awakens, but the other popular theory – that he was Darth Plagueis the Wise, Palpatine’s master and the creator of the Skywalker lineage – stuck hard. And while explaining the return of a character mentioned in one scene of a movie released a decade ago as a seismic twist would certainly be a screenwriting feat, it was a compelling one; Snoke could technically be described as Kylo Ren’s great-grandfather, making his presence and manipulation an entry point in a deconstruction of destiny. Ultimately, Snoke was little more than a red herring, a rhyming trick used to power Kylo’s singular rise to power, rendering this line of speculation moot.

But this speculation belies that prequel concerns are hardly narrative. As already stated, Revenge of the Sith saw the Republic fall, the Empire rise, the Jedi purged, Anakin turn, Vader burnt, the twins born, Force ghosts discovered, Obi-Wan and Yoda exiled, and the Skywalker’s hidden all in the space of a long weekend; the plot is clean. And while we already know that Star Wars 9 will have some visual cues taken from the prequels – a new First Order stormtrooper design evokes memories of the Phase 2 clone armor, making it the endpoint of Imperial soldier design evolution – the question is more about delivery on those big-picture ideas.

Related: How George Lucas’ Star Wars 9 Ended The Saga Completely Differently

Thankfully, after The Last Jedi, it’s unavoidable that balance in the Force, the prophecy of the Chosen One and the very idea of moving past the Jedi as a restrictive construct are all already part of the sequel trilogy story. They explain how the original heroes have changed in the 30-year gap and inform the choices made by the new generation. Bringing in and concluding any of these would link the last Star Wars film (for now) to the first (which was, in the script stage, even known as “The Beginning”).

At the center of this is not just Kylo Ren but his light side equal, Rey. Their dichotomy is strong even as The Last Jedi emboldened Reylo shippers, with one waylaid like Anakin and the other literally nobody in this story. Surely, disconnected from the Skywalkers by blood, Rey is the next step on from the restrictions and definitions of the past. And if that’s what Star Wars 9 is going for, it can’t help but resolve what prequel fans have long been looking for.

Next: Star Wars Prequel Rotten Tomatoes Scores Have Changed (A Lot) Over Time

2019-03-28 08:03:52

Alex Leadbeater

Black Summer Trailer Previews Netflix’s Z Nation Prequel Series

Netflix unleashes the first trailer for Black Summer, the prequel series to SYFY’s recently canceled zombie series Z Nation. The original series aired on the genre-focused cable network for five seasons, until it ended (unceremoniously) in 2018. This new series looks to follow the route laid out by AMC’s The Walking Dead spinoff (which is also a prequel) Fear the Walking Dead, by showing the early days of the apocalypse from the perspective of an entirely new group of characters coming to grips with the unthinkable happening. 

It’s easy to see why Netflix would be interested in a prequel series to the cultish popularity of Z Nation, though from the looks of the trailer, Black Summer is something of a departure tone-wise. That may be okay, as often the best parts of zombie movies and TV shows aren’t the efforts by the survivors of the apocalypse to rebuild society or find a cure for the zombie plague that’s ruined things on Earth. Instead, it’s how the stories capitalize on the slow build up of tension that is the early days of a zombie outbreak, before all hell breaks loose and suburbanites are taking to the streets armed like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando. 

As far as trailers go, this first look at Black Summer has plenty of both. There’s a lot of confusion and panic as the show’s characters slowly begin to realize just how bad the situation actually is, and to make matters worse, the show’s ostensible lead, Rose (Jaime King), is separated from her daughter and has to fight her way through the undead (and other obstacles, to be sure) in an effort to be reunited. Check out the first trailer for Black Summer below: 

The tone of the trailer is quite dark, painting a stark picture of what sort of series Black Summer is going to be, and, apparently, how much it will differ from the series it’s meant to be the progenitor of. Part of setting the tone of the zombie apocalypse includes going all-in with regard to the horror angle (at least in terms of what’s seen in the trailer), in particular the moment when a zombie is chasing a young man through an air duct. It’s a claustrophobic sequence that looks like Black Summer is going to make good use of the lack of restrictions on Netflix. 

From the washed-out color palette to the rag-tag group of survivors to the speedy zombies chasing them, Black Summer looks as though it has borrowed a great deal of its aesthetic from Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead. That will likely be enough to get some viewers excited about this latest addition to the zombie genre, but the question still remains if casual fans will tune in for yet another tale of the undead bringing the world to its knees.

Next: Billions Season 4 Review: Professional Setbacks Make For An Exciting New Beginning

Black Summer premieres Thursday, April 11 on Netflix.

2019-03-18 04:03:13

Kevin Yeoman

HBO’s Game of Thrones Prequel Pilot Casts Miranda Richardson

HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series The Long Night has added Harry Potter actress Miranda Richardson to the pilot cast. Based on George R.R. Martin’s sprawling fantasy book series A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones tells the tale of the fictional Seven Kingdoms where various players large and small engage in epic battle in hopes of one day sitting on the Iron Throne.

First debuting on HBO in 2011, Game of Thrones quickly established itself as one of TV’s most talked about series, and over the years it has grown into a genuine phenomenon. Now, the epic show is set to air its last six episodes, which among other things will depict the final battle between the supernatural White Walkers and the human denizens of Westeros. A year after Game of Thrones’ final episode airs, HBO plans to premiere a prequel series that takes place thousands of years before the events of the original. Naomi Watts and Josh Whitehouse have been named to head up the prequel cast, with the pilot set to be directed by S.J. Clarkson.

Related: Game of Thrones Mysteries The Long Night Can Answer

With filming on the pilot gearing up to begin this summer, TVLine reports that Watts will be joined in the cast by fellow Oscar nominee Miranda Richardson. No details have been revealed about Richardson’s character, which is perfectly in keeping with the shroud of secrecy currently surrounding the prequel series. One of the few reveals has been that Watts will play a “charming socialite with a dark secret.” Other recent cast additions include Naomi Ackie (Star Wars Episode IX), Denise Gough (The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt), Jamie Campbell Bower (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald), Sheila Atim (Harlots), Ivanno Jeremiah (Black Mirror), Georgie Henley (The Chronicles of Narnia), Alex Sharp (To the Bone) and Toby Regbo (Reign).

Richardson is of course no stranger to big-budget fantasy, after playing Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Long before joining the Harry Potter universe, Richardson scored Oscar nominations for her roles in Tom & Viv and Damage, but not for perhaps her most memorable role of the ’90s, the femme fatale Jude in Neil Jordan’s The Crying Game. A tremendously versatile performer, Richardson is also memorable in comedic roles like Queen Elizabeth on the classic British sitcom Blackadder. Richardson is set to appear later this year alongside Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens.

With the addition of the ever-winning Richardson, The Long Night is indeed putting together a solid ensemble to help bring to life the next chapter in the saga of Game of Thrones and its epic fantasy world. It remains to be seen if the new series will kill off its characters with as much abandon as the original.

MORE: Game of Thrones Theory: Naomi Watts Is Playing The FIRST Lannister

Source: TVLine

2019-03-18 01:03:16

Dan Zinski

Star Wars: Rogue One Prequel TV Show Begins Production October 2019

The Rogue One prequel TV show starring Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor is set to begin production in October 2019. Announced earlier this year, the series is the second live-action program Lucasfilm is producing for the Disney Plus streaming service – alongside Jon Favreau’s The Mandalorian (which is currently filming). With The Americans’ Stephen Schiff onboard as showrunner, the Rogue One show will look to further flesh out the earliest days of the Rebel Alliance, telling stories with an espionage twist.

Since the project is still in the earliest stages of development, not much is known about it at this point in time – including when it’ll get in front of the cameras. The Star Wars show isn’t the only small screen gig Luna has on his schedule, seeing that his Netflix series Narcos: Mexico was recently renewed for a second season. At the time the Rogue One prequel was unveiled, it was expected it wouldn’t shoot until later in 2019 due to Luna’s Narcos commitment. Now, there’s a more concrete timeframe.

Related: Every Exclusive Movie & TV Show Coming to Disney Plus

According to Production Weekly, the Cassian Andor show is scheduled to begin filming in October 2019. You can check out their tweet in the space below:

Should this information pan out, it would put the Rogue One prequel on track for a premiere at some point in 2020. Additionally, Lucasfilm will have the better part of a year to iron out the show’s supporting cast. So far, Luna is the only confirmed actor, but that will surely change in the near future. It’ll be interesting to see who else the studio recruits; it wouldn’t be out of the question for Alan Tudyk to return to the fold as fan-favorite droid K-2SO (considering his dynamic with Cassian), and there will definitely be plenty of new faces introduced to the canon. Lucasfilm has a knack for securing top-tier names for their films and TV shows (as evidenced by The Mandalorian’s star-studded ensemble), so keeping tabs on who’s joining the Rogue One show should make for a fun activity in 2019.

While Rogue One received positive reviews and grossed over $1 billion at the worldwide box office, one common complaint amongst viewers was a perceived lack of character development. At least in regards to Cassian, the show should amend that problem in spades, since it will have multiple episodes (and perhaps multiple seasons) to showcase more of the character. Rogue One made several allusions to Cassian’s morally complex past – where he sometimes did questionable things in the name of a good cause. Hopefully, his TV show will be a valuable addition to the Star Wars lineup and complement the movie nicely.

More: Disney Is Making Rogue One Even Better

Source: Production Weekly

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2018-12-31 01:12:00

Kingsman Prequel Eyes Game of Thrones, Harry Potter & Civil War Actors

The cast of Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman prequel Kingsman: The Great Game adds several new stars from Game of Thrones and Captain America: Civil War. Vaughn is currently focused on getting the prequel in shape before moving on to Kingsman 3. He’s planning to write and direct both of the upcoming films, but is now finding some new stars for the franchise’s prequel.

After two installments of the main story following Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Harry Hart (Colin Firth), the Kingsman franchise is going back in time. The prequel will put a new spin on the franchise and may even change up the tone based on recent reports. Maybe the biggest change that fans will need to get used to is accepting the new cast of characters that The Great Game will be focused on. Harris Dickinson was previously reported to land the lead role of Conrad, while Ralph Fiennes has also joined the growing cast. Thanks to the latest report, it is becoming a true ensemble.

Related: Taron Egerton Says He’s Not In Next Kingsman Movie

Collider is reporting four new names that all may have roles in Kingsman: The Great Game now. According to their report, Game of Thrones actor Charles Dance and Captain America: Civil War‘s Daniel Brühl have signed on to the prequel. They’ve also learned that Harry Potter and Amazing Spider-Man actor Rhys Ifans is in talks to join the project, and even heard Watchmen‘s Matthew Goode is being eyed for a part.

The additions of Dance and Brühl are major gets for the prequel, even though it is currently unknown what parts they will be playing. Both could easily portray villains as they have in the past, but that could be the part Ifans is possibly going to get instead. His possible character was described as a “dangerous and manipulative Russian mystic,” so it sounds like he’ll be playing Grigori Rasputin the “Mad Monk” based on previous character breakdowns. Fox reportedly wanted Brad Pitt to take this role, but that does not appear to have panned out and now it looks to be Ifans’ role to lose.

If all four of these new names do indeed join the prequel’s cast, then it is clear Vaughn is assembling another talented group of actors. The combination of Dickinson, Fiennes, Dance, Brühl, Ifans, and Goode is a great start to The Great Game‘s lineup, although many will surely hope the cast will diversify itself as the process continues. Rachel Weisz was also previously linked to the project, but it is unknown if she will be in the movie at this time. All of these casting choices and other new ones should be confirmed before too long with production on the movie set to begin early next year. In the meantime, Kingsman: The Great Game‘s cast is coming together nicely.

MORE: Taron Egerton Wants Eggsy To Be A Mentor After Kingsman 3

Source: Collider

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