2019 Summer Movie Preview – The 20 Films to See

The 2019 summer movie season (that is, May through August) is right around the corner, so we’re counting down the must-see films of the frame. 2019 got off to a realtively slow start, with several movies either disappointing critically and/or struggling to take off at the box office. Fortunately, things started to pick up near the end of February, beginning with How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World and especially Captain Marvel, followed by a handful of hits like Us and Shazam!. And of course, April will end with a massive bang thanks to the release of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame.

Things shouldn’t slow down much when the proper summer movie season gets underway, either. Indeed, there are even more superhero tentpoles, some major live-action Disney remakes, anticipated animated sequels, and a number of exciting-looking horror films on the immediate horizon. Of course, for those who need a break from genre fare and franchises, there are some equally intriguing indie offerings, biopics, and even a new Quentin Tarantino flick to look forward to. (And before anyone asks: Endgame was on our 2019 Winter/Spring preview, which is why it’s not listed here.)

Related: Every Avengers: Endgame Trailer, TV Spot & Clip

To help narrow things down, we’ve put together a list of 20 Summer 2019 movies to see (along with some honorable mentions, at the end). The films are numbered in the order of their theatrical release date, so feel free to let us know what your personal most anticipated movies are in the comments section!

  • This Page: Pokémon, Titans, Mutants & Will Smith
  • Page 2: Zombies, Evil Dolls, Web-Slingers & The Rock

Plot Summary: In a world where humans and Pokémon live side by side, would-be Pokémon trainer Tim Goodman joins forces with a crime-solving Pikachu to locate his father, a famous detective who’s mysteriously gone missing.

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The Breakdown: Warner Bros.’ live-action Pokémon movie has gone from being a mild curiosity to one of this summer’s more anticipated (and unique-looking) offerings in recent months. The general public seems to be onboard for Ryan Reynolds’ Who Framed Roger Rabbit-style adventure by this point, with its marketing suggesting that Detective Pikachu is a playful, family-friendly romp that has just enough weirdness to satisfy fans of all things Poke-related. Nostalgia has also played an important role in building hype for the movie, but so far it looks like the strategy shouldn’t blow up in WB’s face like a Psyduck with a headache.

Plot Summary: John Wick finds himself on the run after killing a member of the international assassin’s guild, with hit men and women everywhere hoping to collect the $14 million bounty on his head.

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The Breakdown: Five years in and John Wick has evolved from a one-off Keanu Reeves action movie to an international franchise with an ever growing fanbase. The fact that John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is releasing in the summer (rather than the fall or winter, like its predecessors) is a testament to just how popular the series have become since it kicked off. By the look of things, series director Chad Stahelski may’ve been saving the best for last too, with the marketing hyping some genuinely awe-inspiring set pieces, action sequences, and stunts to come in Parabellum proper… assuming this is the last John Wick film, anyway.

Plot Summary: A street urchin named Aladdin is granted three wishes by a magical Genie, after he acquires a magical lamp sought by the scheming Jafar.

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The Breakdown: Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin is easily the most controversial live-action retelling of a Disney animated classic yet, thanks to everything from the design of Will Smith’s rapping blue Genie to the remake’s problematic casting, white extras being dressed in brownface, and everything in between. At the same time, the original Aladdin is still one of the Mouse House’s biggest (and most beloved) hits of all time, and the odds are good that moviegoers will turn out in large numbers to see this one on the big screen. Whether they’ll actually like what they see, well, that’s something we’re all curious to learn the answer to.

Plot Summary: A small-town couple adopt an alien infant after their pod crash-lands on earth, only for the child to grow up and become a super-powered murderer.

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The Breakdown: Essentially a horror movie re-imagining of the Superman mythology, Brightburn has attracted interest since before it had a title, thanks to James Gunn’s involvement behind the scenes. The film’s marketing has drawn heavily on the iconography of Man of Steel especially, leaving many to wonder whether Brightburn will feel more like a dark superhero movie or just another evil child thriller (albeit, with a superhero twist). Horror and/or thriller-flavored superhero offerings like Glass and Hellboy have struggled to really connect with either critics or general audiences this year, so it’ll be interesting to see how this one fares by comparison.

Plot Summary: Two best friends, on the eve of their high school graduation, try to cram four years of misbehavior into one wild night.

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The Breakdown: Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut made a big splash at SXSW in March, drawing rave reviews and comparisons to raunchy coming of age comedy classics like Superbad (only told from a female perspective). By the sound of it, Booksmart has the potential to be this year’s Blockers and further cement its young stars (Last Man Standing‘s Kaitlyn Dever and Lady Bird‘s Beanie Feldstein) as talents on the rise. With this August’s Good Boys also generating solid buzz following its SXSW debut, Summer 2019 promises to be a pretty good season for R-rated comedies about misbehaving youths and their shenanigans in general.

Plot Summary: The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off with a number of god-like monsters, including the infamous Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and Godzilla’s ultimate nemesis, King Ghidorah.

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The Breakdown: While we’ve still got a year to go before Godzilla and King Kong throw down, this year’s MonsterVerse offering is shaping up to be pretty exciting in its own right. Directed by Michael Dougherty (Krampus), Godzilla: King of the Monsters appears to blend the grounded style of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla reboot with the brighter colors and more outlandish monster brawls featured in Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island, to overall positive effect. It remains to be seen if the story here is equally up to snuff, but a giant monster movie that syncs well with tunes like “Claire de Lune” and “Over the Rainbow” is definitely doing something right.

Plot Summary: A lonely woman befriends a group of teenagers and lets them party at her house, only for the kids to realize their host is not what she seems.

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The Breakdown: Blumhouse has become known for producing inventive, original horror movies and/or thrillers in recent years (The Gift, Get Out, Happy Death Day) and that trend looks to continue with their latest project, Ma. The film reunites Octavia Spencer with her The Help director Tate Taylor, and promises to be one of the weirder, wilder thrill rides of the summer, with Spencer leading the way. Some people are even wondering if Ma is a direct rebuttal to the Oscar-winner being type cast as a sassy, but nuturing black supporting character in the early part of her career. Either way, this is one to watch out for.

Plot Summary: The story of Elton John’s life – from his days as a young musical prodigy to his rise to superstardom – is told through the lens of a biopic-meets musical fantasy.

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The Breakdown: As far as Hollywood biopics about musicians go, Rocketman looks surprisingly creative. By the sound of it, director Dexter Fletecher and star Taron Egerton (who, yes, is doing his own singing) are more interested in making a movie that captures the spirit of Elton John’s music than a Wikipedia-style docudrama about his life (a la Bohemian Rhapsody). They aren’t shying away from the musician’s legendarily debaucherous lifestyle either, and may even wind up taking home an R rating for their efforts. Here’s hoping that’s the case, anyway, and Rocketman hews closer to something like Velvet Goldmine than a non-comedic version of Walk Hard.

Plot Summary: Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that transform her into the dangerous Dark Phoenix, forcing the X-Men to try and either save her… or destroy her.

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The Breakdown: The end has come for the X-Men… that is, Fox’s X-Men movies. Yes, it’s been all but confirmed that Dark Phoenix will serve as a conclusion to the studio’s pre-Disney run on the franchise, before the X-Men are rebooted as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Prior to Disney’s purchase of Fox, however, it sounded like Dark Phoenix was designed to kick-off a whole new trilogy. The film has since gone through reshoots (presumably to change this), but it begs the question: will the new version wrap things up in a satisfying way, or is director Simon Kinberg (who also wrote X-Men: The Last Stand) about to go 0 for 2 on adaptations of The Dark Phoenix Saga?

Plot Summary: A pair of Men in Black agents from the London branch team up to tackle their greatest threat yet: a mole within the MIB organization.

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The Breakdown: Although it takes place in the same continuity as the original MIB trilogy, Men in Black: International is clearly intended to serve as fresh start for the the comic book-based franchise. It’s a fairly promising continuation too, between Thor: Ragnarok costars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson playing the leads, and F. Gary Gray (The Fate of the Furious) calling the shots as director. By the look of things, International isn’t trying to reinvent the (MIB) wheel so much as give the property a fresh coat of paint, following a seven year break between films. If things don’t work out, well, you know where the little red button is.

Next Page: Zombies, Evil Dolls, Web-Slingers & The Rock

Plot Summary: Zombies suddenly invade a small town, leaving it to the local cops and residents to try and save the day on their own.

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The Breakdown: Nobody makes films quite like Jim Jarmusch, and The Dead Don’t Die seems like yet another memorably off-beat and idiosyncratic movie from the Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai and Only Lovers Left Alive director. It also features an all-star cast of actors, including several (Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Chloë Sevigny, Tilda Swinton, and so on) who have collaborated with Jarmusch to great results in the past. Of course, the filmmaker’s projects tend to have pretty niche appeal, and one imagines that won’t change with his quirky zombie horror-comedy. Nevertheless, this has the potential to be one of this summer’s best indie offerings.

Plot Summary: The toys head out on a road trip adventure that shows Woody just how big the world can be for a toy – and leaves him questioning his very purpose.

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The Breakdown: Continuing the Toy Story movies after Toy Story 3 was always going to be a risky proposition, but Toy Story 4 ended up having to deal with even more challenges than expected during production. However, despite all that, the film is looking rather promising right now, with its trailers serving up a healthy blend of silly toy-related antics and hints of the poignant drama to come. Pixar sequels are typically a step down from their predecessors, but the Toy Story followups have proven to be the exception to that rule so far. Will that trend continue with the fourth (and, for real this time, final) entry? Well, as the marketing’s put it, “God Only Knows”.

Plot Summary: The Warrens place Annabelle in their cursed artifacts room for safe-keeping, only for the possessed doll to awaken the evil spirits that lie within and target their ten-year old daughter, Judy.

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The Breakdown: June is going to be a peculiar month for movies about toys “coming to life”, between the release of Annabelle Comes Home, Toy Story 4, and another film we’ll get to later. That aside, the latest Conjuring spinoff has a fun premise, and appears to offer all the jump scares and pale-faced demons going “Boo!” that audiences now expect from (and enjoy about) this franchise. Longtime Conjuring writer-producer Gary Dauberman is making his directorial debut here, so it’ll be interesting to see how he compares to the best helmers that’ve worked on this supernatural horror property so far (especially, David F. Sandberg and series architect James Wan).

Plot Summary: Peter Parker tries to enjoy a relaxing summer vacation in Europe with his friends, but ends up having to save the day when an enigmatic figure named Mysterio shows up.

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The Breakdown: Marvel Cinematic Universe fans won’t have to wait long for their next fix after Avengers: Endgame, what with Spider-Man: Far From Home arriving two months later. Ant-Man and the Wasp similarly hit theaters a couple months after Avengers: Infinity War in 2018, and provided a welcome change of pace from that massive crossover. Far From Home aims to do the same, but also serves as the first brick in the wall for Phase 4 and a teaser of the MCU’s future to come. Fortunately, it seems that director Jon Watts and his cast have rebottled much of the same heart and humor that they brought to Spider-Man: Homecoming in the sequel.

Plot Summary: A young woman and her boyfriend attend a rare summer festival in Sweden that quickly takes a turn for the horrifying.

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The Breakdown: Ari Aster’s feature debut, Hereditary, was one of the most talked-about horror films of 2018. Needless to say, cinephiles are curious to see what he’s cooked up for his sophomore feature, Midsommar, especially given its Wicker Man-esque premise and backdrop. Much his like first movie used supernatural horror to examine generational trauma, it appears that Aster’s new offering explores grief and the process of ending a relationship through a story that involves bizarre cults and related violence. Midsommar probably won’t have much more luck crossing over to the mainstream than Hereditary did, but it certainly sounds intriguing.

Plot Summary: Lion cub crown prince Simba prepares to become king of the Pride Lands, unaware that his uncle Scar is plotting to seize the throne for himself.

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The BreakdownThe Lion King is one of Disney’s most beloved titles of all time, so it’s little wonder that moviegoers are anticipating the live-action remake with a mix of curiosity, excitement, and trepidation. On the one hand, The Lion King looks like a visual feast and has the makings of a fun “live-action” adventure, with The Jungle Book director Jon Favreau at the helm. On the other hand, the film isn’t exactly promising anything new, and there are many who prefer the vibrant colors of the original 2D animated classic to the toned-down realism of the retelling. That being said: it’s The Lion King, so of course (a lot of) people are going to watch it.

Plot Summary: A former western TV show star and his trusted stunt double navigate the changing times in Los Angeles and Hollywood, circa 1969.

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The Breakdown: Originally believed to be a film about the Manson murders, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is really a character piece that takes place against the backdrop of the 1960s. The movie has also been described as a return to the style and format of the writer-director’s breakout work on Pulp Fiction – something the marketing supports, with its emphasis on various players (both fictional and based on real people, like Sharon Tate) as they move in and out of one another’s lives. All in all, this one should provide a welcome break from the summer blockbuster slate, and may even prove to be Tarantino’s best project in years.

Plot Summary: Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw are forced to team up and stop a cyber-genetically enhanced international terrorist from wreaking havoc.

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The Breakdown: Just when you thought the Fast & Furious movies couldn’t get any more ridiculous than The Fate of the Furious… here comes Hobbs & Shaw. The first spinoff in the shockingly durable and evolvable property looks like an over the top cartoon adventure show brought to life in live-action, but in the very best way possible. Of course, it helps to have Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham leading the way and bickering like the married couple that their characters should be, all while beating up bad guys and saving the world as though it’s just another Tuesday. Throw in Idris Elba as “Black Superman” and you’ve got what sounds like perfect popcorn entertainment.

Plot Summary: Boy genius Artemis Fowl – a descendant of a long line of criminal masterminds – engages in a battle with a secret, powerful race of fairies who may be tied to his father’s disappearance.

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The Breakdown: Disney’s taking yet another stab at launching a new franchise based on popular source material, this time in the form of Artemis Fowl. They’ve recruited Sir Kenneth Branagh (who also helmed the studio’s live-action Cinderella) to call the shots on the project, and so far the results seem promising enough. At the same time, the movie is arriving well after the original books’ heyday during the 2000s, and the Mouse House’s live-action moviemaking approach hasn’t worked so well on non-remakes of late (see: A Wrinkle in Time, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, etc.). Will Branagh and Disney finally crack the code together?

Plot Summary: A group of teens in a small American town read a mysterious book full of scary stories, and thereafter find themselves being haunted by the stories’ ghouls and monsters.

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The Breakdown: Guillermo del Toro and director André Øvredal (The Autopsy of Jane Doe) joined forces to adapt the famous Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books for the big screen – and so far, the results look as freaky and creepy as you would expect, based on the creatives involved. While this summer isn’t hurting for horror movies intended for adults, it nice to see that teenagers will have something sufficiently spooky to check out too. Fingers crossed, the Scary Stories adaptation will mange to walk the line between being scary fun and pure nightmare fuel the way the original story collections by Alvin Schwartz did.

Long Shot (May 3) – A political rom-com starring Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen? This one’s got pretty strong buzz at the moment, following its premiere at SXSW.

Tolkien (May 10) – This J.R.R. Tolkien biopic looks visually impressive so far – but will it prove anywhere near as memorable as the stories that the author actually wrote?

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (June 7) – Illumination’s sequel seems a bit thin when it comes to plot, but promises to deliver more than its fair share of pet-related misdeeds.

Child’s Play (June 21) – Longtime fans remain wary of this remake’s technophobic spin on the ’80s slasher classic – but hey, Mark Hamill as Chucky sounds creepy so far.

The Kitchen (August 9) – Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elizabeth Moss as mob wives-turned mob bosses? This comic book adaptation definitely has potential.

Ad Astra (May 24) and The New Mutants (August 2) – Yes, these two are still technically scheduled to arrive this summer, but we’ll believe it when we see it.

NEXT: Lion King Will Be Disney’s Biggest 2019 Movie, Not Endgame

2019-04-20 05:04:45

Sandy Schaefer

Game Of Thrones Season 8 Episode 2 Images Preview Jaime’s Trial

Jaime prepares to answer for his crimes in HBO’s official photos for Game of Thrones season 8 episode 2. After seven seasons and enough deaths to give Thanos’ Decimation a run for its money, the network’s ultra-popular A Song of Ice and Fire adaptation is down to its last pack of episodes. Game of Thrones‘ eighth and final season kicked off this week with a premiere that primarily took place in Winterfell, as most of the show’s remaining characters buckled down in preparation for the Night King’s arrival. However, the episode itself ended with someone else altogether making their way to the Stark family stronghold – Jaime Lannister.

In an intentional callback to the final scene in the Game of Thrones pilot, the season 8 premiere ended with Jaime getting off his horse at Winterfell… only to turn around and see Bran Stark (the boy he pushed out of a tower window, all those years ago) sitting in his wheelchair, waiting for the Kingslayer. This in turn set the stage for season 8 episode 2, which will begin with Jaime on trial as he reveals that his sister/lover Cersei’s troops won’t be helping the North in their battle to come against the Night King and his undead army. Needless to say, this news does nothing to lighten the general mood in Winterfell, as these stills illustrate.

Related: What Will HBO Do After Game of Thrones Ends?

HBO has unveiled fourteen images in total from Game of Thrones season 8 episode 2, ahead of its airing this weekend. You can check them all out in the space below (via Vanity Fair).

Among the characters pictured here are, of course, the main players like Jon Snow, Sansa Stark, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, Arya Stark, Bran, Samwell Tarly, and Jaime. Also shown here are Gilly and her young son Sam, snuggled up with the older Sam (who got some rather devastating news about his family last episode), Daenery’s relentlessly loyal ally Jorah Mormont, the ever knowledgeable (if, currently, out of his element) Varys, and the survivalist Davos Seaworth. Meanwhile, youngster – and certified badass leader – Lyanna Mormont is all armored up and ready to battle the Night King’s army, and Grey Worm and Missandei are seemingly bidding one another farewell, ahead of the terrifying battle to come.

Still, as tense as everyone looks here, it’s nothing compared to what lies ahead for them in season 8 episode 3. It’s pretty clear that Game of Thrones is going to give us one more episode of build-up before the fight between the living and the dead gets fully underway, which is good because there’s some important table-setting that needs taking care of first (and not just the matter with Jaime, either). The season 8 premiere was uncharacteristically light on deaths for a Game of Thrones opener, and that will probably be the case again in episode 2. Rest assured, though, Death and his forces are coming after that.

NEXT: Game of Thrones Season 8: Returning Cast & Character Guide

Game of Thrones continues next Sunday, April 21 @9pm on HBO.

Source: Vanity Fair

2019-04-17 03:04:59

Sandy Schaefer

Game of Thrones: Death Has Many Faces in Episode 2 Preview

Caution: Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones

A preview for Game of Thrones episode 2 has arrived. After an agonizingly long wait, Game of Thrones returned last night with its eighth season, also confirmed to be the show’s final run. As the culmination of the world’s most popular television series, anticipation for the season 8 opener was palpable and enhanced even further by the extra-long gap since season 7. While the finale’s secrets have been closely guarded throughout filming, fans do know that the biggest battle in Thrones‘ history will take place at Winterfell this season, as the united forces of the living clash against the undead army of the Night King.

While noticeably calm by Thrones‘ own dramatic standards, the season 8 premiere was still a relatively eventful affair, as all the major pieces were moved into position and characters reunited with friend and foe alike. The episode did, however, provide one major exclamation point, as Jon Snow finally discovered his true parentage from best friend, Sam Tarly. Elsewhere, the North made its disdain for Daenerys Targaryen clear, Cersei hired Bronn to assassinate her brothers and Euron Greyjoy ticked a major goal off his personal bucket list. Finally, the action concluded with Jaime Lannister riding into Winterfell under the watchful, soulless eye of Bran.

Related: Game Of Thrones: What The White Walker Spiral Means

HBO have now released a short preview for next week’s installment and it appears that episode 2 will ramp up the intensity considerably. The trailer shows Jaime standing before Jon and Daenerys in Winterfell and receiving a welcome even colder than the weather, but seemingly finding an unlikely ally in Sansa. The voice of Arya provides an ominous voice over, reminding viewers that “death has many faces” and finally, Winterfell’s battle preparations are fully underway as the White Walkers near.

This short but tantalizing trailer reveals a few significant points ahead of season 8’s second offering. Daenerys’ frosty reaction to Jaime certainly comes as no surprise but with Sansa apparently willing to let him join the fight, will the divisions between the various monarchs of Winterfell deepen further? Arya will likely have a deciding say in Jamie’s fate. Although the Kingslayer isn’t an official entry on Arya’s kill list, the trailer’s chilling dialogue hints that she may not be able to turn down this golden opportunity to murder him… if the Night King’s warriors don’t get there first. Away from the political intrigue, the preview does also confirm that Tormund’s group will arrive at Winterfell imminently after their brief appearance in the premiere and they bring news that the battle for the Seven Kingdoms will begin in a matter of hours.

Since the season 8 opener was largely bloodless, many Thrones fans will be pleased to see that the preview for episode 2 promises the show’s climactic battle will arrive sooner rather than later. From the footage shown, it can perhaps be gleaned that next week’s episode will finalize preparations for the fight, setting the board one final time ahead of episode 3, in which hostilities will finally begin.

More: Game Of Thrones: What Arya Wants Gendry To Make

Game of Thrones season 8 continues April 21st on HBO.

Source: HBO

2019-04-15 06:04:41

Craig Elvy

Exclusive: DC/Vertigo’s American Carnage #6 Preview

The American Carnage comic series from DC/Vertigo hasn’t pulled any punches in its harrowing tale of undercover conspiracy and white supremacist infighting, but the gloves are coming off of its villain in Issue #6, making the stakes clear for what comes next.

The story of Richard King, a mixed race former lawman (who can pass as white) sent into the operation of a billionaire industrialist with political aspirations makes its politics known from the start. And so far, Bryan Hill and Leandro Fernandez’s story hasn’t disappointed. With the lines between justice and revenge getting blurred, and the old-fashioned “proud boy” white supremacy coming to open conflict with the newer, more sophisticated brand of Klan mentality, our exclusive preview of American Carnage #6 hits the ground running.

RELATED: High Level is DC/Vertigo’s Most Exciting New Comic

Until now the billionaire Wynn Morgan–whose connections to white supremacy and money laundering were being investigated when the FBI agent on the job turned up dead–has stayed out of the spotlight. But with the first pages of Issue #6, there is no doubt that Richard has been shown the door into the heart of Morgan’s grand plan. But before he lets Richard walk through it, he’s got a white supremacist manifesto to unfurl one egomaniacal talking point at a time.

Take a look at Wynn’s political view of the world in our preview pages below, and believe us when we tell you that Richard’s description of Wynn’s outlook as a “dramatic way of looking at things” doesn’t cover the half of it.

That’s a heck of a tease to end on, considering how much Wynn has already asked of Richard. The previous issue had Richard sent on a mission to murder one of the chief “inbred jethro” ringleaders complicating Wynn’s political campaign. And while he didn’t actually commit the murder, readers can assume that restraint is going to cost him. But fans will have to wait for the full issue arriving this Wednesday to see how Richard’s story gets even more dangerous, charged, and violent. But for now, read on for the full synopsis and details below:

  • AMERICAN CARNAGE (2019) #6
  • Published: April 17th, 2019
  • Writer: Bryan Hill
  • Art: Leandro Fernandez
  • Cover: Ben Oliver
  • Richard is trapped. What began as a routine undercover mission for his next paycheck has devolved into a nightmare of mortal consequences. Having disrupted Wynn’s inner network and catapulted well past the point of no return, Richard fears he must sever himself from Sheila’s original assignment in order to survive—but before he can implement their final plan, a revelation from Jennifer forces him to accept his ultimate function within Wynn’s white nationalist empire.

American Carnage #6 will be available from your local comic book store on April 17th, or direct from DC/Vertigo.

MORE: DC’s Freedom Fighters Are Back to Destroy Nazi America

2019-04-14 08:04:41

Andrew Dyce

Deck of Ashes Preview: Deckbuilding With Demons

AYGames’ Deck of Ashes is looking to break into what’s quickly becoming an attractive, albeit niche, corner of online gaming. Deckbuilding games have made a resurgence in the wake of the unexpected success of Slay The Spire, and they’ve met with varying levels of success. Hearthstone currently employs a single-player deckbuilding mode every two expansions or so, and they’re well-received, generally occupying players for about one or two weeks. That’s not what games like Deck of Ashes want, though. To sustain themselves, they need to present a better, more in-depth offering.

Luckily for fans of the genre, Deck of Ashes offers a lot of that in a relatively short hands-on experience that lasts one prologue and one champion’s story. While the main game will have to do more than what’s being previewed currently in the demo of the game’s Early Access build, what’s there is a more than serviceable foundation for a quality deckbuilding title. Champion variety will be crucial, but at this stage, it’s hard not to be excited about what Deck of Ashes is doing, operating as a sort of cross between Slay The Spire and Darkest Dungeon.

Related: Slay the Spire Review – One of the Finest Deck-Building Games Ever

Deck of Ashes functions a lot like its compatriots in the deckbuilding game genre. Players start with a decent but uninspiring deck and then complete a series of objectives to acquire better cards, sometimes removing weak ones from their deck as well. It’s a lot of micromanagement that doesn’t appeal to everyone, but it’s also a hallmark of the budding variation on card games. Deck of Ashes does it well, offering players crafting recipes for cards that are easily accessible and can be used at the end of every battle or at camp. Cards feel unique, pretty well balanced, and generally offer players a few different directions for their champion – will this run center around a discard-heavy build, or one that immolates enemies and exploits the status debuffs to great effect? Concessions to playstyle are a must with any game that wants to iterate hundreds of times on the same conceit, and Deck of Ashes makes those concessions without sacrificing fun.

Fun is relative, though. The battles in Deck of Ashes can be pretty brutal. While the game successfully warns players which spots on the map house the hardest battles, even the easy ones aren’t gimmes, especially after a few adventures on the same trip. Health recovery is a resource, as is the deck. Players will have to reforge the cards they use in each battle at the end of it, and if they don’t, they’ll be without them for the next one unless they find someone who can fix them along the way. It’s deck management inside of deck management, and it creates an interesting sub-game. Building a strong deck helps mitigate these factors, and in the hands-on, it seems the earlier game is actually a bit harder than the late. If players lose, that’s it: it’s a fresh reset or, more likely, a quick five minute breather before returning for more. The game has ways of mitigating this a little bit, but it really does have the same kind of punishing system that those familiar with Slay The Spire already know and loathe (but also love, weirdly enough).

The game does a good job of employing its environment in-game, too. Deck of Ashes is about a post-apocalyptic world where Pandora’s Box (in this case, filled with a lot of ash) is opened and the world goes to hell quickly. What remains are survivors, demons, and resources that need to be gathered to try to put the world back together. Those resources can give players abilities in battle, new deck strengths, cards, and items, among other things. It’s a lot more like an RPG than other iterations of deckbuilding games have been recently, which is nice. Deck of Ashes feels like it could be the natural progression of the genre though, again, it’s too early to say without seeing if each champion has enough variation to them to make them worthwhile.

One of the best parts of Deck of Ashes, though, is that it is trying to do new things, and most of them are interesting enough that they work. The central hub of characters that aid the player is a refreshing take on deckbuilding, which can often feel pretty solitary overall. The art is pretty, too, somehow making a world filled with ash appealing aesthetically. The game’s bosses don’t just lurk at the end of the map, but they progress as the player takes their turns moving from tile to tile, sometimes affecting the environment. Eventually, time runs out and the player must face them. The sense of dread really makes building a deck feel more intense than it should be.

There are a few things that could be cleaned up in Deck of Ashes, but most of them aren’t related to its core gameplay, which is the most exciting part of the game so far. The mechanics are fun, the cards are unique, and the battles are brutal and tactical. The voice acting needs work, the UI could use a few tweaks, and the starter decks could be a little more complex, as a player’s sixth or seventh time starting with them can begin to feel monotonous, which is probably a little too early. Overall, though, Deck of Ashes is promising and if most of its issues exist adjacent to its actual card slinging, then they can be fixed prior to a full launch. Deck of Ashes is well worth your time if you’re interested in deckbuilding games, even if it can be a little punishing at times, and we’re sure it’ll be one to watch as the game continues its development cycle ahead of a full release.

More: Hearthstone’s Rise of Shadows Embraces Villainy, Releases In April

2019-03-28 08:03:34

Cody Gravelle

Exclusive Preview: Vertigo’s LUCIFER Finally Burns

The Lucifer series from DC/Vertigo is building to its big finish, and after millennia of tricking souls, the time has come for The Devil to finally give some payback to all the poor souls he’s fooled…

After the previous issue finally started pulling the disparate storylines of Lucifer, John Decker, Caliban and more into a clear Endgame, Lucifer #6 is making its titular hero answer for his past crimes. Our preview of Lucifer #6 shows how brutal that vengeance will get within seconds, but the damned souls complaining about their deals with The Devil may not get the victory they’re after. This is Lucifer, after all.

RELATED: High Level is DC/Vertigo’s Most Exciting Comic in Years

For now Lucifer stands united with what remains of Sycorax, trapped inside of her skull with the countless spirits encountered in these first pages. Meanwhile, back in the world of the living, Sycorax’s son Caliban is on the hunt for that very skull (keen to bring both his mother and Lucifer out of it). If only John Decker wasn’t moments away from shattering it into pieces…

Take a look at the preview pages below:

Even with so many storylines swirling, our preview highlights the two biggest strengths of the Lucifer series this far. The uncertain twists and turns of Lucifer’s journey back to the character he used to be, and how beautifully it is realized thanks to artists Sebastian Fiumara, Max Fiumara, and Dave McCaig. As thrilling as it may be to imagine Robert Johnson getting the chance to set Lucifer aflame for his devil’s bargain, or the other ‘victims’ taking a swing at him in weakened form, it’s still Lucifer who stands in the spotlight. It’s hard not to be on his side, since the morals of these stories was always to be careful what you wished for, not demonstrating how vindictive or deceptive Lucifer is once called upon.

More importantly, it is Lucifer shouting down these lost souls, engulfed in flames, that forms one of the most memorable scenes of the series. With the flames seeming to have burned away his scars and wounds by the final panel, and his command of these past acts, bargains, and fools, this scene may also prepare readers for the return of Lucifer – in his youthful, strong appearance fans have long known. But to find that out readers will have to wait for the full issue releasing this Wednesday. Until then, take a look at the full synopsis and details below:

  • LUCIFER (2019) #6
  • Published: March 20th, 2019
  • Writer: Dan Watters
  • Art: Max Fiumara, Sebastian Fiumara, Dave McCaig
  • Cover: Tiffany Turrill
  • Lucifer remembers. But the price of clarity may be destruction, as the Devil sits at the edge of a precipice—and erstwhile allies remember his past sins, too. Meanwhile, the Moon attempts to steal from the Earth, and a potential Antichrist is conceived.

Lucifer #6 will be available from your local comic book store on March 20th, or direct from DC/Vertigo.

MORE: No, DC & Marvel Comics Aren’t Close to Closing

2019-03-18 04:03:42

Andrew Dyce

New York Comic-Con: 26 Biggest Announcements (And 4 Weirdest Possibilities)

It might not be as big as San Diego Comic-Con, but New York’s pop culture celebration is just as eventful. This year’s New York Comic-Con was littered with scoops. Whether it’s juicy rumors or brand new trailers, there was plenty to see and talk about. Of course, the convention weekend can get a bit overwhelming — the onslaught of news, panels, and footage seems endless. Thankfully, we’ve collected all of this biggest topics for those of you who are lost amidst all of the comic book news.

For this list, we’re going to cover the most important stories of this year’s New York Comic-Con, including some big ones that just happened to drop during the week rather than at the convention itself. The list will even feature a few big rumors that have come out of the con for some good measure — or for those of you who just like some gossip. Even those who attended the convention might have missed some of the major stories, so use this as your post-NYCC guide to recap the weekend as things begin to wind down.

We know it’s difficult to keep track of all this news, especially after the convention weekend. This list should make things a bit easier. Even if you didn’t attend, the bombardment of news is probably still filling your news feed. So after you’re finished watching trailers all day and unpacking your NYCC hauls, settle in and we’ll break everything down for you.

Here are the 26 Biggest Announcements From NYCC (And 4 Weirdest Possibilities).

30 Aquaman’s New/Old Armor

The new Aquaman trailer was the highlight of the weekend for many. It revealed a surprising amount of footage — some would say too much. The extended look — roughly five minutes long — featured a plenty of unseen footage.

Audiences were treated to a sequence involving Arthur and Mera in desert ruins, another look at Atlantis, and even an extended action sequence between the two leads as they are chased by Black Manta. Perhaps the biggest spoiler in the trailer was the reveal of Aquaman’s iconic orange and green outfit.

29 Hellboy First Look

While no footage from the Hellboy panel has been released to the public, convention-goers were treated to a poster reveal and an exclusive first look at the upcoming film.

The panel footage wooed many fans in attendance and featured a tone that balanced the movie’s violence and gore with humor. It saw Hellboy receive his iconic handgun and show off the Hand of Doom, and it highlighted his especially shaky relationship with his ally Ben Daimio.

The trailer’s money shot had Hellboy in all-out demon mode, rising out of a pit sporting a flaming sword and crown.

Hopefully it won’t be long before this footage is released to the public.

28 Bullseye in Daredevil Season 3

Daredevil’s new trailers suggest a return to the grounded crime-noir tones of the first season with some big new developments. The first trailer reveals that not only is Kingpin out of prison, but he appears to design a smear campaign to turn New York against Daredevil.

One of the ways this may be happening is through a Daredevil impostor, who is none other than the hero’s most famous villain, Bullseye. Bullseye is the subject of the second new trailer, exploring his life as a government agent-turned-assassin under the employ of Kingpin.

27 Titans Is Grittier Than The DCEU

Titans has already received flak for the marketing’s seriously dark tone. Now, after the first two episodes were screened for viewers at NYCC, it is getting the same criticism.

Not only does Titans sport the DCEU’s same dark tone, but apparently the show is even more violent than the films.

The footage featuring Robin displayed some extremely violent and lethal combat, complete with the same amount of gore and disrespect for human life one might find in — well, anything but a comic book show. With that said, the show did receive a warm reception from the audience, so maybe Titans has potential after all.

26 Possibility — Will Rick Grimes Survive?

The Walking Dead is losing its lead character this season, with the confirmed departure of Rick Grimes actor Andrew Lincoln. His impending exit has been talked about for months now, but fans still don’t know how his character will be written out of the show. In a new rumor, it seems that Rick Grimes might meet a brutal end.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Andrew Lincoln joked that he might not “make it through the credits sequence” teasing Rick’s potential demise. Fans don’t want to say goodbye to Rick, but it will be even harder to do so if he is torn apart by walkers. Can’t somebody get a happy ending on this show?

25 Spock On Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek fans weren’t left out of the fun this year, with a new trailer for season two of Star Trek: Discovery. The trailer promises a ride that might be just as intense as the first season, with plenty of action, character beats, and visuals so gorgeous that one would think the show had the budget of a feature-length film.

Amidst the sizzle of the trailer is a big reveal — the inclusion of a young, bearded Spock.

The character is supposedly connected to the “Red Angel” visions that Burnham is experiencing, though details on his appearance in the season are still under wraps.

24 First 35 minutes of new Spider-Man movie

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is still a few months out but panel attendees were treated to the first 35 minutes — and apparently what they saw was incredible. Reactions to the NYCC footage is overwhelmingly positive, citing the stylish animation and and lighthearted tone as some of the film’s standout elements. These early reactions come off the back of a new trailer for the film, which shows off several more of the alternate universe versions of Spider-Man.

Of course, this was only the first 35 minutes. Much of the movie is still under wraps and it has a long road ahead of it, being only one of many tentpole releases hitting theaters this December.

23 Deadly Class is coming in 2019

SYFY’s adaptation of the critically acclaimed Deadly Class comic series made a big showing this year. Between the close collaboration with series writer Rick Remender, the promise of intense action, and the Russo brothers at the helm (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers Infinity War), this long-awaited series has the potential to be a household name.

Not only does the show seem like a contender for the “next big thing” in comic book television, but it finally has a release date.

This was revealed to be January 16 in a new trailer that focuses on the coming-of-age aspect of the anarchic action series.

22 Star Wars’ The Mandalorian

The first image of Jon Favreau’s live-action Star Wars series was released on Thursday, getting fans hyped for the first real TV show in a galaxy far far away. The photo was released alongside new details about the show, namely its title: The Mandalorian.

Set between Return of the Jedi and The Force AwakensThe Mandalorian centers on a warrior from Mandalore travelling across the galaxy. The title character wears the iconic armor that the planet is known for — a costume shared by fan-favorite character Boba Fett. Plenty remains unknown about the series, though it is set to premiere on Disney’s upcoming streaming service.

21 Possibility — Kingpin and Spider-Man Crossover

Marvel fans will rejoice if this rumor comes true — during all of the Daredevil buzz over the convention weekend, Vincent D’Onofrio made a very reassuring tweet.

When a fan tweeted that the world will never see the him as Kingpin in an MCU film, D’Onofrio responded with “Who says?”

Marvel’s Netflix shows have been especially vague in their references to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but having Kingpin show up in a Tom Holland Spider-Man film would be the perfect connection. The chances are slim, but at least there’s hope.

20 Bane On Gotham

Gotham‘s fifth and final season was revealed in a trailer this weekend, promising quite the grand finale. The trailer hints that Gotham will be adapting the classic No Man’s Land comic book story this season, and also teased another big bad.

Actor Shane West has been cast as Bane, one of Batman’s greatest adversaries and one of the only major rogues that the show hasn’t yet adapted. Bane’s appearance so early in Bruce Wayne’s life has been met with mixed reactions among fans, but at least that suggests a bombastic end to the pre-Batman series.

19 The X-Men Go To Space

New York Comic-Con got an extended look at X-Men: Dark Phoenix, despite being subject to what seems like endless delays. The exclusive footage, which still has not been revealed to the public, gave fans a look at the fully-formed X-Men team and their upcoming cosmic adventure.

Highlights of the footage included an argument between Mystique and Professor X, Jean Grey absorbing a solar flare, and the team going on a rescue mission in space.

While most of the movie likely takes place on Earth, it’s nice to know that the movies aren’t above digging into the spacebound shenanigans that the comics do.

18 Penny from The Big Bang Theory is Harley Quinn

Among the many DC Universe announcements this weekend was the trailer for the Harley Quinn animated series, which has taken many fans by surprise. The show looks like a quirky adult comedy with Harley breaking the fourth wall and using foul language.

The show is already being compared to the likes of Deadpool, with positive reactions coming out of NYCC. It also features a great cast, with Kaley Cuoco, Alan Tudyk, Ron Funches, JB Smoove, and Wanda Sykes among the voice talent. It is set to release late in 2019 on the DC Universe streaming service.

17 Umbrella Academy’s Big Debut

Netflix’s adaptation of Gerard Way’s superhero darling The Umbrella Academy came to play during NYCC, with a handful of new images and even a trailer exclusive to the folks at Comic-Con. An Umbrella Academy movie has been in the works for many years, but after the switch to television and some time in development freefall, it finally seems right around the corner.

The series — which consists of a dysfunctional family of superheroes — seems to be maintaining its gothic comic book aesthetic.

The show looks like surreal than its counterpart on the pages, but it already has people excited. Umbrella Academy hits Netflix on February 15, 2019.

16 Doctor Who First Reactions

Those who attended the Doctor Who panel were in for quite the event. The attendees got to see the premiere of the new season as well as have an in-depth talk with the season’s Doctor, Jodie Whittaker. The audience’s response to the episode was ecstatic to say the least, and that sentiment seems to be shared by viewers around the world.

Not only was the show a critical hit, but its viewer ratings were record-breaking. The premiere episode “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” peaked at 9 million viewers, which the highest the show has ever had! Sounds like the new season of Doctor Who is off to a fantastic start.

15 Odin’s true form in American Gods season 2

Last year’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods was a massive hit and the trailer for the new season looks just as enticing.  Shadow Moon and Mr. Wednesday are back on their surreal fantasy roadtrip, accompanied by even more colorful characters and bizarre, unsettling visuals.

The footage teases a war between Mr. Wednesday and Mr. World, with an especially striking shot of Wednesday in his true form: Odin. 

American Gods is a trippy, gorgeous series that many may have missed last year, and with such a great-looking sequel on the way, now might be the time to go back and binge. The second seasons drops in 2019.

14 Possibility — Sabrina/Riverdale Crossover

A full trailer for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina hit the web early last week, revealing a spooky-yet-fun adaptation of the comics, as well as a revival of the late ’90s sitcom. Sadly, Archie fans will be disappointed to hear that Sabrina is not currently attached to the hit CW series, Riverdale.

While the Sabrina was originally set to appear on the CW as Riverdale’s companion show (much like CW’s Arrowverse), the move to Netflix seems to have stifled the idea. Still, Sabrina showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is holding out hope for a potential crossovers so that the original plan can come to fruition.

13 George R. R. Martin’s new show

Those of you eagerly awaiting Game of Thrones… well, we don’t have any good news for you. But, if you want more content from the mind of George R.R. Martin, an adaptation of his book Nightflyers has received a new trailer and a first-episode premiere at New York Comic-Con.

The sci-fi thriller follows a crew they struggle to survive on their space mission.

Not everything is as it seems on the vessel, as the show promises some solid horror scares as well as a character-driven story. The show doesn’t officially premiere until December 2nd, but at least sci-fi horror fans have something to look forward to.

12 She-Ra And The Princesses’ LGBT rep

Dreamworks Animation has been launching hit after hit lately — between shows like Trollhunters and Voltron: Legendary Defender, their work has earned them much success on Netflix. The newest series from the studio, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, dropped a poster and teaser trailer at New York Comic-Con that looks like promising fun for young viewers.

The reboot of the ’80s television show sports new cartoony visuals, witty humor, and a diverse cast of characters — even including a same gender couple. While the show’s initial reveal was met with some backlash, the trailer seems infectiously pleasant and fun.

11 Matt Bomer stars in DC’s Doom Patrol

While Titans got plenty of attention at NYCC, the next DC Universe original series got a brief first look. Doom Patrol is set to release next spring, but panel attendees were show some exclusive photos of Brendan Fraser’s character, Robotman. Fraser appeared at the panel and talked through the first look.

Seeing as Doom Patrol is currently filming, it shouldn’t be long before official footage hits the web.

The Robotman design look remarkably accurate to the comics, which has gotten many fans even more excited for the obscure property’s TV adaptation. Supplementing this news was the casting of Matt Bomer as Negative Man — another big name

10 The Spawn Trilogy

Fans hoping for a Spawn trailer at NYCC were out of luck this weekend, but series creator Todd McFarlane spoke at length about his plans for the newly rebooted movie. McFarlane explained that he envisions an ambitious trilogy of Spawn movies, with each one visually and tonally distinct from the last.

The first film might be described as a kind of existential horror-superhero film, with characters wondering if what they see is even real. While the project is still a ways off, the Jamie Foxx-led vehicle is going to emphasize the dark tones of the book with a hard R-rating, as well as cater to the now-older readers of the comic series.

9 DC Universe Streaming Plans

DC Comics and Warner Bros wanted to spotlight their DC Universe streaming service at this year’s NYCC, several small news breaks on he various related properties. Not only did they show footage of Titans, Doom Patrol, and Harley Quinn, but they also revealed the service’s content release schedule over the coming year.

While no specific dates were given, the timeline depicts various release windows for the service’s different original series.

While Young Justice: Outsiders seems to have been split into two parts, Doom Patrol will drop next spring followed by Swamp Thing in the summer, with both Stargirl and Harley Quinn dropping next fall.

8 Pet Sematary First Look

Horror fans might not have had much to talk about at Comic-Con, but during the convention some promo images dropped for the reboot of a Stephen King classic. The first images of the Pet Sematary remake were released, featuring Jason Clarke, John Lithgow, and Amy Seimetz.

The best image of the bunch comes in the form of the Creed family cat, Church, looking meaner and mangier than ever.

While an evil cat may not be the scariest thing you’ll find in Pet Sematary, it’s a nice preview of the Stephen King spookiness to come, especially after the success of 2017’s It. Pet Sematary is set for release on April 5, 2019.

7 Runaways Season 2 Footage

A new trailer for the second season of Runaways shows that the series has moved way past high school drama, and further into superhero action territory. The trailer features the Runaways’ comic book hideout, huge action set-pieces, and plenty of superpowers to go around.

Highlights of the trailer include a kiss between Nico and Karolina, a battle on an airport runway, and a glimpse at Gert’s pet dinosaur Old Lace. The first season of the show was a quiet hit among the newer Marvel properties, but this season promises a much deeper dive into the superhero genre that fans of the series are have been waiting for.

6 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

One reveal snuck in towards the end of Comic-Con — a very short trailer for How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Although very brief, the trailer is made up of all-new footage.

The trailer consists of baby Hiccup in his father’s arms as he is told about the legendary world of dragons.

During his father’s narration, the titular Hidden World is given a brief tease as hundreds of dragons flutter across a cavernous landscape. It ends with a shot of Hiccup and Toothless overlooking a town covered in dragons. It’s not as extensive as the film’s last trailer, but it might hold fans over until the film’s release on February 22, 2019.

5 Good Omens Trailer

It’s a great year for Neil Gaiman lovers as they got not one, but two different Gaiman projects revealed at NYCC. First was the second season of American Gods, and now Amazon’s adaptation of Good Omens. 

The trailer for the new series pits Michael Sheen and David Tennant against each other as an angel and a demon who must join forces in order to prevent the apocalypse. The dark subject matter is contrasted by the show’s whimsical tone and David Tennant’s devilish charisma. It sets up what looks to be a very fun buddy comedy about he end of the world.

4 First 25 Minutes Of Peter Jackson’s Mortal Engines

Fans of director Peter Jackson were treated to the first 25 minutes of his next project, Mortal Engines, at this year’s New York Comic-Con. Mortal Engines is another expansive world, like the Tolkien material that Jackson has worked with before, but with a post-apocalyptic twist.

The most talked about elements of the footage were the massive scale of the world and the jaw-dropping visuals.

The Mortal Engines footage introduces viewers to Hester, a girl who lives in a world that was ravaged by the “60 Minute War” that destroyed civilization. Now the world consists of giant cities on wheels that fight each other. Audiences won’t see it for themselves until December 14.

3 The Boys Teaser Trailer

Amazon’s adaptation of Garth Ennis’s hyper-violent superhero comic The Boys has finally been revealed with a brief teaser trailer . The teaser features a public service announcement from Vought International, a company that facilitates the operation of the Seven, this world’s league of superheroes. At the end of the PSA, the titular Boys can be seen sitting on a couch, rudely gesturing to their televisions.

The Boys is already setting itself apart from the traditonal superhero fare, and with good reason — the series is about a team of people who keep out-of-control superheroes in check– by blackmailing them, stealing from them, and beating them up. It’s extremely adult-oriented and it already looks like fun.

2 Voltron Ends in December

The release date and synopsis for the eighth and final season of Voltron was revealed at New York Comic-Con, finally bringing the critically acclaimed Netflix series to a close.

The last season will feature the final battle between the Paladins and Witch Haggar.

A few promo images were released as well — one featuring the villain Honerva and another depicting the Voltron Paladins in a control room with Shiro commanding the gang in a background role. While no footage was shown at NYCC, the release date was confirmed to be December 14. The show’s final season will premiere on Netflix.

1 Possibility — Avengers 4 Titled “Avengers: Annihilation”

This rumor went viral during the weekend of NYCC — “Avengers: Annihilation” may or may not be the name of the still untitled Avengers 4. Speculation over the film’s name has driven fans mad in recent months, with “Annihilation” being yet another choice amidstthe rumored titles titles like “Avengers: Forever”, “Avengers: Endgame”, and “The Last Avenger”.

Annihilation comes from the name comic storyline of the same name, though it bears few similarities to the Infinity Gauntlet story that the films are adapting. Seriously, Marvel, just call it “Avengers: Assemble” and get it over with already. Don’t keep us waiting!

What announcements from New York Comic-Con excite you the most? Make sure to leave a comment before you go to share your thoughts!

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2018-10-08 07:10:26 – Jonathan Figueroa

Doctor Who: Biggest Questions After Jodie Whittaker’s First Episode

Warning! SPOILERS for the Doctor Who season 11 premiere ahead!

The new season of Doctor Who finally arrived and now the world has had their first taste of Jodie Whittaker’s 13th Doctor. The episode, “The Woman Who Fell to Earth,” is exciting, scary, action-packed, and surprisingly emotional – all the elements that make up a great Doctor Who episode. It’s a brand new era for the 50+ year-old sci-fi series, and it’s only just getting started.

Along with a new Doctor, there’s a whole new cast of characters joining Whitaker on the adventure. This cast is also the most diverse cast Doctor Who has ever had, which feels like the right choice for this new era of Who, and that diversity exists both on screen and off, with season 11 including the first writers of color in the show’s history. For a television series that can go anywhere and do just about anything, it’s about time Doctor Who began branching out and including new voices.

Related: Doctor Who Season 11 Premiere Early Reviews Praise Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor

Now that the world has seen the 13th Doctor’s first episode and gotten a taste of the show’s new direction, we have a few questions that we’re very interested to see answered in the upcoming season.

  • This Page: Why Did the TARDIS Abandon The Doctor?
  • Page 2: How Powerful Is The New Sonic Screwdriver?

Why Did The TARDIS Abandon The Doctor?

When the Doctor began regenerating from 12 into 13, the TARDIS also began to change. The console room exploded and the Doctor went tumbling out the doors. As she fell to Earth, the Doctor could only watch as the TARDIS dematerialized – abandoning her. And while the TARDIS is known to be a temperamental old thing, it doesn’t usually strand the Doctor without good reason. So where has it gone? And why?

The next episode of Doctor Who will probably reveal where the TARDIS ended up, but it could be a little while before we get a full explanation for why it disappeared in the first place. One reason might be that the TARDIS simply doesn’t care for this new version of the Doctor. As far as we know, this is the first time the Doctor has regenerated into a woman. Maybe the TARDIS just doesn’t recognize her? Or is more fond of men? Those would be rather silly explanations for why the TARDIS acted the way it did, but they aren’t entirely out of the realm of possibility.

It’s more likely, however, that the TARDIS is malfunctioning. This could be happening either as a result of the regeneration (the TARDIS also went haywire when 10 regenerated into 11) or because it’s been tampered with somehow. Whatever the reason, it’ll be up to The Doctor to reunite with her TARDIS, and in doing so, the show may just reveal more about the special bond between The Doctor and her best traveling companion.

Page 2: How Powerful Is The New Sonic Screwdriver?

How Powerful Is The New Sonic Screwdriver?

The 13th Doctor isn’t only without her TARDIS in the Doctor Who season 11 premiere – she’s also without her trusty sonic screwdriver. But the Doctor is very clever, and a bit of tinkerer. With a few parts from an alien transportation pod and some Sheffield steel, she constructs her own sonic screwdriver. Well, it’s more than a screwdriver, as fans already know, but with her building her sonic screwdriver instead of receiving one from the TARDIS we have to wonder… how is it different from previous screwdivers?

In the episode, the screwdriver already appears to have a few short circuits, sparking when the Doctor first reveals it. But then, as the episode continues, it more or less performs it’s job as it should. So will the fact that this screwdriver is handcrafted from arguably lesser quality materials than a typical sonic device (sorry Sheffield steel, you just aren’t that high tech) affect how powerful it is? And more importantly, will this screwdriver work on wood?

Related: Doctor Who Season 11 Premiere Video: Jodie Whittaker Arrives On Earth

Who Will Rescue The Doctor?

At the end of the episode, as the Doctor is attempting to transport herself to the planet where her TARDIS wound up, she manages to send not just herself but Ryan, Yaz, and Graham as well. And she doesn’t actually transport them to a planet, but rather into outer space, where they’re left floating in the vacuum.

Of course, the previews for next week’s episode already reveal they’ll be rescued, but by who? The obvious guess is that it’s the other people seen on the planet in that preview. Their outfits  appear to be space suits or a uniform, suggesting they’re a crew of some sort. They may also be military, which isn’t going to sit well with the Doctor at all. Just how they rescue The Doctor and her new companions from an icy death in space remains to be seen, but perhaps the bigger question we should be asking is – why were they transported to space in the first place?

The Doctor said the signal came from the TARDIS, but there is no TARDIS where they are. And though initially it appeared as if the TARDIS abandoned the Doctor, maybe it was actually stolen? A stolen TARDIS isn’t the same as it being lost, and it would mean someone is trying to keep the Doctor away from it – in which case, season 11 might see the Doctor searching the galaxy for her TARDIS. It’s a little unlikely given that the reveal of a new TARDIS interior is almost as big of a deal as a new Doctor, but it would be an interesting twist on the typical formula. And besides, it isn’t as if the Doctor hasn’t been without their TARDIS before.

Next: Doctor Who Season 11: New Cast & Character Guide

Doctor Who season 11 continues next Sunday with ‘The Ghost Monument’ at 8pm/7c on BBC America.

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2018-10-07 04:10:37 – Sarah Moran

Dark Phoenix Director Apologizes for X-Men: The Last Stand

Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg apologizes for botching Fox’s first attempt at adapting Chris Claremont’s Dark Phoenix saga in X-Men: The Last Stand. A longtime producer of Fox’s X-Men films, Kinberg also wrote the Brett Ratner-directed movie, alongside Zak Penn. The film was the final installment in the series’ initial continuity, before it was rebooted by Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class.

Specific narrative points are still being kept under wraps, but people involved in Dark Phoenix are hyping it up, including Sophie Turner (Jean Grey/Phoenix), who promised fans that it will revolutionize the superhero genre. Meanwhile, Jennifer Lawrence (Raven/Mystique) dubbed it her best X-Men experience. The movie is set to be the last Fox-controlled X-Men film before rights to the mutants, alongside all their tie-in characters, return to Marvel Entertainment after the Disney and Fox merger is finalized.

Related: Why Fox Is Making a Second Dark Phoenix Saga Adaptation

Speaking with EW as he continues to promote Dark Phoenix, Kinberg apologized for Fox’s first attempt to adapt the quintessential storyline from the comics back in 2006. Considering that he was a pivotal part of The Last Stand, the first-time director also assures fans that this time, they made sure to stick to the source material as closely as possible. Kinberg previously named Logan and the original Star Wars trilogy – as well as other MCU cosmic-set films – as influences on his upcoming movie, but following his apology, he specifically named Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok as another significant inspiration.

“I’m sorry for X-Men 3. We tried to tell the Dark Phoenix story and we didn’t do it properly. So, with this Dark Phoenix story there is no ‘cure’ plot, there is no other plot. It is the Dark Phoenix story, as told in comics, as told in the cartoons. Sophie is the center of the film, that’s why she’s the one person that’s in the teaser poster. The entire movie revolves around her. It’s a movie that goes into space and is cosmic, very much inspired actually by what [Taika] did with Thor — even though the tone is totally different — but just the ability to make a character movie that still feels grounded, and fun, but is in whole other universes. Jessica Chastain’s character plays an alien, and that’s all I can tell you about that. But, yeah, it’s the Dark Phoenix story and if you’ve read that comic I think you’re going to like the movie a lot.

Admittedly, not many were initially sold on the idea of retelling the same print narrative, especially since Fox could’ve gone with other storylines that have never been translated to the big screen. It didn’t help that Dark Phoenix‘s release has been pushed back a few times, alongside rumors that the reshoots were to alter a huge chunk of the movie. Over the years, the term “reshoots” has developed a negative connotation after being associated with problem-laded productions, that said, reshoots have always been mandatory, especially for blockbusters.

While the film’s first trailer didn’t necessarily squash people’s concerns that Dark Phoenix will be just an updated version of The Last Stand, the buzz surrounding the event-exclusive footage shown at NYCC may sway naysayers to give the movie a fair shot. Those who were lucky enough to see the preview raved about the chemistry of the established X-Men team before Jean’s change of heart. From the looks of it, Kinberg’s apology may not just be lip service, assuming the forthcoming mutant-centered movie blows everyone away.

More: Dark Phoenix NYCC Footage Description: How Jean Grey Becomes Phoenix

Source: EW

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2018-10-06 08:10:05 – Ana Dumaraog

A Star Is Born’s Ending Is Bad (And Always Has Been)

WARNING: Major spoilers for A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born‘s ending undoes what could have been a Hollywood classic – but that’s not exactly Bradley Cooper’s fault. From its first version in 1937, A Star Is Born has always had a problematic resolution to its story, one that’s only got worse over the past century, and this latest version is no different.

A Star Is Born is a classic story that Hollywood loves so much it’s told it four times (with a suspiciously-similar earlier version, several failed attempts and many, many imitators). A top-of-his-game star (in 2018, Bradley Cooper’s rock star Jackson Maine) is suffering from alcoholism and in a stupor discovers a struggling artist (Lady Gaga as Ally, a waitress moonlighting in a drag bar), falling in love with both her and her talent. He provides her with a big break, sending her fame into the stratosphere just as his addictions begin to derail his career. The pair marry, but despite their love things begin to fray.

Related: Read Our A Star Is Born Review

It’s a tale of rags to riches, of falls from grace, of the power of love, and personal identity within all of that. And, for much of the runtime, A Star Is Born 2018 is genuinely a great version of all those stories. Gaga’s first major concert leaves you floating, Cooper shows mental affliction with grace, both perform their songs incredibly (to actual live crowds, no less), and are utterly believable as troubled lovers. It is, for much of its runtime, a very good film worthy of that deafening hype.

However, everything implodes into a black hole of pretentiousness as what could have been a great film its own right has to follow through on being called A Star Is Born

  • This Page: The Problem With A Star Is Born’s Ending
  • Page 2: A Star Is Born’s Ending Has Always Been Bad
  • Page 3: Why Bradley Cooper Couldn’t Fix A Star Is Born

What Happens In A Star Is Born’s Ending

We’ll stick with Cooper’s take for now before going deeper into the past. A Star Is Born‘s third act is kicked off by Ally winning the Grammy for Best New Artist – a major step for her career, undercut entirely by Jack drunkenly taking to the stage with her and relieving himself on live TV. He goes into rehab and she wrestles with where her focus should lie, eventually deciding to try and protect her recovering husband. She cancels her European tour when her agent, Rez, blocks the duo playing together.

As a result, Jack kills himself. He’s confronted by a seething Rez who has no sympathies or expectations of sobriety and states outright Jack’s ruining his wife’s career. When she matter-of-fact states the tour cancellation, he sees the impact of his actions and, while she plays a concert, he hangs himself in their garage.

Related: Every Song On A Star Is Born’s Soundtrack

This breaks Ally at first, leaving her emotionally distraught, before her understanding the meaning of Jack’s sacrifice – to enable her to truly become the star he always saw – helps her pull through. The film ends at a tribute concert in Jack’s memory. “My name is Ally Maine.” she declares before singing “I’ll Never Love Again”, a song based on their relationship they wrote together while he was recovering. A flashback shows the pair singing, she looks through the camera at the audience, the end.

Why A Star Is Born’s Ending Is Bad

Removing the ending of all presentation and self-imposed importance (a character looking into the camera at the end is an overused trope that Cooper simply doesn’t earn), in just writing down the events of A Star Is Born its problems should be obvious.

Jack decides to kill himself to save his wife, committing suicide because it’s the only way to set her free. This comes about two hours into a film which has slowly built up its numerous interpersonal relationships, and so comes as a drastic and rather unearned turn. Now, there is an argument to be made about accuracy to the unpredictability of mental illness, but given the intimacy audiences had with both Jack and Ally up until this moment, that doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. A Star Is Born, plainly, presents suicide as the only way out. It’s meant to come across as a selfless act but still values success as a true route to happiness, meaning anything emotional about the “gesture” is laced with hypocrisy.

But it’s what comes after and Ally’s coming to terms with her loss that’s so disquieting. For all her innate talent being the drive of the story and her freely made decision to step back what motivated Jack to kill himself, the final scene makes everything about Jack; the mononymous singer for the first time takes on her husband’s surname at his concert, where she performs a song that he helped her write in her original singer style. The suggestion is meant to be that Jack was holding her back, but in the shadow of the previous two hours the strange implication is that the act of a true star being born came from the adversity of Jack’s sacrifice. Making Ally’s success symbiotic to her dead husband is already heavily in the text of the film, but the final scene makes her final ascension even more indebted to his drastic act.

It’s hard to not read A Star Is Born‘s ending as trivializing suicide down to a plot point to give the fundamentally broken male lead the defining role in its female protagonist’s arc. It’s a weird move to make in 2018, although don’t believe this is just the product of an 80-year-old movie being remade. There’s something flawed at the heart of A Star Is Born.

Page 2: A Star Is Born’s Ending Has Always Been Bad

The True Story Behind A Star Is Born’s Ending Explains The Problem

There have been four versions of A Star Is Born: the 1937 Hollywood-skewering original starring Janet Gaynor and Frederick March, the 1954 musical starring Judy Garland and James Mason, the 1976 shift to the music industry with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, and the latest Cooper/Gaga release. Each one has its own quirks, but all endeavor to tell the same story of love and fame intertwined, and all have the same basic ending. But the 1937 version isn’t the start. While A Star Is Born‘s narrative is a fiction, it’s very much based on truth; each movie is rooted heavily in the entertainment industry of the time – Hollywood for the 1937 and 1954 versions, music for 1976 and 2018 – and aims to tell an encapsulating story. There are some real-life events that inspired it.

The established star falling for an unknown as she climbs to the top was seen in actors Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Fay’s relationship, with the pair marrying in 1928 when the former was an unknown after starring in a Broadway show together. Their marriage fell apart after she rose above him and he fell into alcoholism. They separated in 1935 after seven years of marriage, two years before A Star Is Born was released. This appears to have been composited with the death of silent film actor John Bowers, who died at sea in 1936 after failing to win a part (whether it was a suicide or not is unclear). There are others (as we’ll see) but these are regarded as the ones who powered the 1937 version.

Related: Lady Gaga Fans Are Trolling Venom With Fake Bad Reviews

Of course, there’s one key distinction between inspiration and movie: in real life, it was two unrelated stories. There are the famous lovers who piggyback success and the past-it star who takes his own life, but in all cases these two aspects are entirely independent; the woman goes on to greater success by cutting the man out, while elsewhere another man falls from grace. Both stories epitomize Hollywood together, and taken alongside each other rather than melded have an ingrained believability. A Star Is Born trades that for something more streamlined in having the suicide be the culmination of the romance, but it’s also idealistic and wistful, losing the real moral of either.

This is reflected in what is regarded as a proto-Star Is Born, the 1932 film What Price Hollywood? Released five years before the 1937 version and produced also by David O. Selznick (and directed by George Cukor, who was approached for the first A Star Is Born and directed the first remake), this is regarded as something of a dry run at the story. Obviously from the release year it can’t share the same real-life inspirations (although, because this is the Golden Age of Hollywood, there are others pointed to), but the core concept and even smaller story beats are there, albeit with one massive difference: the leads are not romantically involved. Lowell Sherman’s Max drunkenly finds Constance Bennett’s Mary and helps make her a star, eventually killing himself after he sees realizes how far he’s fallen and is hurting his friend, while Mary’s suffers an ill-fated marriage that breaks down due to her absences filming and is reconciled at the end.

Watched today, What Price Hollywood? has a cynicism about the film industry ahead of its time despite ultimately being a movie romanticizing Hollywood – and at the core of this is the tragic story of Max and its impact on Mary’s life. The title question is apt.

How The Remakes Have Tried To “Fix” The Ending

In contrast to What Price Hollywood?, A Star Is Born 1937 carries a self-awareness and charm, but in bridging the romantic and the career side of protagonist Esther creates the problematic suicide reading. It’s not helped by dated elements, including the defining part of Esther’s ascension being the actress known as Vicki Lester taking on her husband’s name with a declaration “This is Mrs. Norman Maine“. It works given the time period, but even 16 years later needed an update.

Related: Watch the Trailer For A Star Is Born

The 1954 version is, for the most part, a beat-for-beat remake, just with dance number expansion to make it a musical, but it does make some strides to justifying the ending. The toll that caring for a drunk has on Judy Garland’s Vicki Lester is shown gradually, most upsettingly in an off-stage breakdown she immediately returns to filming from: an unavoidable presentation of the line between art and performer. But, ultimately, it ends in the same way: Norman Maine overhears Vicki’s plans to quit acting to care for her husband, so he feigns going for a swim and drowns himself; after a traumatic period and being unmasked at her funeral (the invasion of the press), Vicki returns to the public eye where she declares herself “Mrs. Norman Maine“. Every issue discussed is here.

The 1976’s A Star Is Born is overall incredibly melodramatic, nowhere less than its handling of the ending. What it should be praised for is its attempts at giving the female lead a greater sense of autonomy: throughout Streisand’s Esther makes decisions that power the narrative, not just being led along by Kristoffersen as those who came before her, but that’s lost thuddingly in the finale. After his meltdown, John Howard has imposed isolation – not rehab – and when returning home immediately sleeps with a reporter wanting an interview for Esther. The couple tries to power past this, but John figures he’s still broken and crashes his car at high speeds. Again, Esther is sad before taking his name (and singing at a tribute event).

Like we’ve already explored with A Star Is Born 2018, all versions have tried to provide their own contemporary spin on the tale to iron out its kinks, yet all wind up having to repeat the same suicide-anger-name triple-tap that doesn’t belong. A degree can be accounted to the changing times, but that ignores that the original trio of movies released over nearly 40 years, and that Cooper wasn’t able to address it either.

Page 3: Why Bradley Cooper Couldn’t Fix A Star Is Born

Why Bradley Cooper Can’t Fix A Star Is Born

Bradley Cooper certainly tries to bring a modern slant to the worn tale of A Star Is Born. He invests heavily in making Jack and Ally’s opposite trajectories operate independently – Jack is suffering from tinnitus before he’s heard a note of “La Vie En Rose”, while Ally’s SNL appearance is deemed to contradict his advice – while making the love story more immediate. It’s a bigger story, more personal and considerably more consummately paced.

But, like all the others, the ending hits a snag. And some of his decisions make it worse. The method of final descent is different, with the awards show upset and rehab undone not by Maine going off the rails again as in every other take, but rather by Ally’s agent calling his supposed bluff. It’s implied from the British Rez knowing when exactly Jackson first toured across the pond that he was once a fan, now disillusioned with his hero, making him a millennial scapegoat to any affronting reading.

Related: 2018 Fall Movie Preview: The 30 Films to See

This generational push and pull could have been what sent A Star Is Born to greatness. Sam Elliott’s speech about there only being twelve notes played over and over, with the majesty coming from how the artist uses them is a beautiful sentiment that sees Cooper self-justifying another remake and appears like a zen view on the entertainment business that birthed it. Except it isn’t, because this idea is also trying to explain the ending, claiming that the music industry is cyclical and that stars are born and then new stars are born later; Jack’s death is enabling that. What the film seems to miss is that for one state to ever enter another, a star must always die. Ally will fall too. The raw textual argument is that the failures are as eternal as the successes, raising the question of worth, yet the film provides no further exploration and presents it as somehow immediately uplifting.

And that’s the hump that A Star Is Born 2018, like its predecessors, can’t get over. The story thinks it’s a biting, self-aware take on itself, but it’s too close to the subject to see that it’s really just propagating a harsh cycle. This isn’t helped by the film being weighted by so much – the casting of Lady Gaga, his writer-director-producer-actor whammy, even Sam Elliott as the Sam Elliott-type – although those concerns are also the key explanation for what’s really going on.

A Star Is Born Only Exists Because Of Ego

Throughout this article, there’s been one question dangling unspoken. Why are there four versions of A Star Is Born anyway? It’s a story that is flawed and dated, on a topic which has been tackled in more films than any other. Yes, each movie got serious Oscar nominations and wins, but that alone isn’t enough to justify going back. The true answer is enlightening.

1954’s A Star Is Born was conceived as a bid to restart Judy Garland’s career after it stalled over the 1940s. 1976’s A Star Is Born was Barbra Streisand’s attempt (along with then-husband Jon Peters) to boost her standing in Hollywood. And 2018’s A Star Is Born is Bradley Cooper’s grand attempt to win the Oscar that he believes he deserves (his entire post-Hangover career is a carefully played game of chess with a Golden Baldie the King). There are studio concerns too (before Cooper, Warner Bros had been attempting to get a remake off the ground since the early 2010s, although as a Beyonce vehicle has the same career expansion goals), but those are the primary purposes of each version. A Star Is Born is a vanity project on repeat.

Related: A Star Is Born Is An Oscar Favorite – But Could An Infamous Producer Hurt Its Chances?

Now, vanity projects needn’t be bad, and indeed a lot of good comes from each of these attempts. Indeed, each was ultimately successful in both their primary and commercial goals: Garland’s career was rejuvenated; Streisand won her second Oscar; and Cooper’s currently the front-runner in multiple categories for next year’s Academy Awards.

But this aspect appears to be why each version of A Star Is Born struggles to understand the real meaning of its ending. Each powering force believes this movie will be what takes them being a Norman/Jack Maine to a new Esther/Ally while missing that it’s built into the story to be impossible. They believe so much in the two contradictory Hollywood legends wholesale, so don’t see that the story is almost warning against such a thing.

A Star Is Born Is No Longer Needed

In recent years, we’ve seen Hollywood’s reliable rotation of movies about itself take a genuinely incisive slant. 2015’s Best Picture Winner Birdman was an ostentatious exploration of ego that too ended with the protagonist committing suicide, but there it was with the wry critique that fame and adoration are fleeting and that such a bold act was the only way for the self-involved hero to reach the heights he dreamed of. Then there’s 2017’s almost-Best Picture Winner La La Land, which was a celebration of Hollywood-gone-by looking at love in a city of stars, eventually concluding that success required the sacrifice of the central relationship.

Together, these take on all the ideas that A Star Is Born is playing with and apply them in a more thoughtful way. The messages are more widely applicable and their endnotes have considerably less of the hypocrisy. Birdman and La La Land may find joy in the arts, but they also uncover the trials of creativity and fame, keeping the brutal truths in earshot while presenting from a position of success.

A Star Is Born 2018 is a good movie, an undeniable achievement for both Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. But there is a flaw at the heart of the tale that just doesn’t ring true. Unless it’s made with a completely revisionist, ego-less eye, in twenty years we do not need another one.

More: Every Version Of A Star Is Born Ranked, From Garland To Gaga

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2018-10-06 01:10:52 – Alex Leadbeater