Deadline just dropped the news that Marvel have found their Kamala Khan, AKA Ms. Marvel. Newcomer Iman Vellani will play the character in a new series for Disney Plus.
Created by editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson, and artists Adrian Alphona and Jamie McKelvie, Khan is Marvel’s first Muslim character to headline her own comic book.
The new series for the streaming channel will be written by Bisha K. Ali and centers on Khan, a Pakistani-American teen based in New Jersey. It will mark Vellani’s first big role in the film and television industry.
The news follows on swiftly from the recent announcement that Tatiana Maslany has been cast in the title role of a She-Hulk series, and this week’s announcement that the studio is developing a Nick Fury series, to star Samuel L. Jackson.
We’ll bring you more word on Ms. Marvel as the show moves into production, but this is exciting news for fans of the character.
I have to be honest, I’m a little obsessed with Tatiana Maslany. It’s her teeth. They are, and I’ll brook no argument on this, the sexiest teeth on television.
That aside, the fact that Marvel have landed Maslany for the title role in their new She-Hulk series for Disney Plus is excellent news, because her performances in BBC America show, Orphan Black, were fabulous. Maslany was nominated for three Emmys and a Golden Globe during the show’s run between 2013 and 2017, winning the Emmy for best actress in a drama series in 2016.
She-Hulk, to those who are behind on their Marvel Comics’ lore, is the alter-ego of lawyer Jennifer Walters, Bruce Banner’s cousin who, at least in her four-colour origin, is tranformed into an intelligent, green-skinned giant after a life-saving blood transfusion from her (in)famous relative. Mark Ruffalo has coyly intimated he may even reprise his role as Banner for a cameo on the show.
She-Hulk’s debut on the screen is shaping up nicely, as Maslany’s casting joins the announcement from earlier this week that Kat Coiro had been signed as director and executive producer. She will direct the pilot and additional episodes of the series. Jessica Gao is writing the series and serves as executive producer and showrunner.
Coiro has directed shows including It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Dead To Me, while Gao has Rick and Morty on her resume, which suggest She-Hulk might follow the frequently semi-comedic tone taken by the best of the character’s comic book appearances (star artist/writer John Byrne produced a memorable run in the 80s, with Shulkie, as she’s affectionately known, frequently breaking the fourth wall to address readers).
She-Hulk, with a currently unknown release date, will join other Marvel Cinematic Universe shows on Disney Plus, including Falcon and The Winter Soldier, WandaVision and Loki, with Hawkeye, Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel also in development.
We’ll bring you more news as it hits.
Tatiana Maslany photo: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Whatever has occurred in the twists and turns taken to bring Fox’s The New Mutants to the screen remains somewhat of a mystery, but we finally have a new trailer and a new (new) release date.
Though I’m generally not a huge fan of Marvel’s mutant teams, I’ve always had a soft spot for The New Mutants, encouraged mainly by the Chris Claremont/Bill Sienkiewicz ‘Demon Bear‘ storyline that elevated a bunch of second string characters into a must read comic book!
I also rather liked the first trailer for Josh Boone’s The New Mutants film for Fox, released two years ago, followed by… well, officially, nothing.
Behind the scenes, however, everything seemed to be going on, from the Fox/Disney merger (would Disney want to see Marvel characters in a straightforward horror movie, albeit released under the Fox banner?), to delayed release dates, rumoured reshoots involving X-Men writer/producer Simon Kinsberg and further rumours that the film would be shelved as it now longer fitted in with the Mouse House’s overall plans for Marvel.
But just recently, director Boone tweeted that a new trailer would be released and a final release date set, and here we are.
I’m more than intrigued by this, the cast is full of great young actors (honestly, I’d watch Anya Taylor-Joy in anything, and I’m dying to see her take on Illyana Rasputin / Magik, but Maisie Williams, Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, and Charlie Heaton are all of great interest too), and the thought of a superhero/horror mash-up ticks all of my boxes.
The New Mutants is released (finally) on April 3rd. Here’s hoping I won’t regret spending so much time writing about it.
Big Little Lies star Zoe Kravitz has been confirmed as Catwoman for new movie, The Batman.
The actor reportedly pipped the likes of Zazie Beetz, Eiza Gonzalez and Oscar winner Alicia Vikander for the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman’s nemesis/love interest in Matt Reeves’ soon-to-begin filming new take on the Caped Crusader, starring Robert Pattinson in the title role.
Pattinson was chosen by Reeves and Warner Bros when previous Batman, Ben Affleck, departed the role after than the less-than-satisfactory Justice League.
Meanwhile, Kravitz’s credits include the Divergent series and Mad Max: Fury Road, and she will stalk the streets of Gotham alongside Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon and Jonah Hill, who is in talks for an unspecified villain role.
“It’s very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale,” Reeves said of his take, to the Hollywood Reporter earlier this year. “It’s told very squarely on his shoulders, and I hope it’s going to be a story that will be thrilling but also emotional. It’s more Batman in his detective mode than we’ve seen in the films. The comics have a history of that. He’s supposed to be the world’s greatest detective, and that’s not necessarily been a part of what the movies have been.
Pre-production on the Warner Bros./DC Comics pic is expected to start this summer. No official start date has been set, but industry rumours have suggested that filming could start late this year or early in 2020.
The Batman is scheduled to hit cinemas on June 25th, 2021.
On the surface Captain Marvel might be one of the more straightforward of Marvel Studios’ films, but there’s some intriguing stuff at play underneath.
Carol Danvers has been around in the comic books since 1968, though it wasn’t until 1977 that the character adopted her first superheroic alter-ego, that of Ms. Marvel, taking on the legacy mantle of Captain Marvel (after a previous, separate character sharing that name) in 2012.
So while Danvers and the Captain haven’t been around as long as or share the general public awareness as Wonder Woman, the character has paid her dues.
Mention of Wonder Woman here is interesting, as while DC and Warner Bros made her gender a prominent part of the character’s journey in 2017’s film, here Marvel almost wilfully subvert expectations of such considerations to take a more subtle route in unleashing their first female-fronted franchise.
When alien Kree warrior Vers (Brie Larson) goes on a mission against the shape-shifting Skrull race with her mentor, Yon-Rogg (played by welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jude Law), which quickly not only goes pear-shaped but also sees Vers begun to unlock a sequence of events which will lead her to unravel a series of recurring nightmare flashbacks.
Ver’s journey leads her to Earth in 1995, and encounters with (amazingly CGI de-aged) younger versions of Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and revelations which will change both her life and the future of Marvel history.
That the film presents all this as an unfolding mystery is one of the stronger points of the standard origin story, and as per usual this is entertainment of the highest caliber from Marvel: superb casting (including a star-making turn from Larson, who rises above some deficiencies in the script to make a hugely appealing central character and another fantastic turn from Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, the Skrull, who is obviously having a blast), snappy dialogue and fun action sequences. But it’s somewhat disappointing to report that despite all this, Captain Marvel still feels like one of the studio’s more workmanlike (excuse the gender conflation here) efforts.
While it’s highly admirable (and enjoyable) that it’s never even really made an issue that Vers and Marvel are presented as the equal (and indeed, superior) to any males in her orbit, making the film rather an important step in its own way, it’s a shame that some of this is presented in a less than inspired manner. I found the direction by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck to be lacking a certain vision, and it’s the first Marvel film where I’ve actually felt the hand of a committee in the course of viewing.
It’s not difficult to imagine that the firing of James Gunn, who had been acting as a kind of creative guru to the studio until a small group of internet nazis dug up some poor taste jokes Gunn had made on Twitter and used those to successfully blackmail Disney into letting him go, had some kind of reverb effect on Marvel (and Captain Marvel). There are choices made in the film which feel distinctly Gunn-ian (is that a thing? It is now), but executed without his very particular flair.
A perfect example of this is the decision to play out a third act fight scene, between Marvel and some of the bad guys, with No Doubt’s Just A Girl playing over the soundtrack. Given the possibility of this particular song to comment on the action, this might seem like a good idea, but on reflection I found myself wondering what the song really had to do with I was seeing onscreen. In hindsight it feels like a choice that Gunn might have considered then rejected as being simply too on the nose.
It might seem unfair to be laying the film with a “what would James Gunn have done?” vibe, but it’s impossible to separate a studio film like this from the events that surrounded its creation.
But don’t let these caveats put you off from seeing Captain Marvel (in 3D if you can, and if you have a cinema that knows how to project the format properly – because the post-converted 3D is really superb), as even Marvel’s most simply efficient is the equal of or better than many other studios’ efforts.
You’ll definitely have a good time (and if you’re a Stan Lee fan, like me, the film may even make you cry in its opening seconds, as I did), and without a doubt it’s a strong introduction to a character who is tipped to become an important lynchpin in Marvel’s future movies (not least of which in next month’s much-anticipated Avengers: Endgame).
And to answer a question I know many of you have (without spoiling anything) Thanos should be very, very worried right now.
Captain Marvel definitely goes further, higher, faster, to use both the character’s and the film’s tag-line, but could have gone even higher, even further and even faster.
It isn’t too often the death of a celebrity affects me emotionally, but today is very different. Stan ‘The Man’ Lee has passed away.
It’s difficult to talk about Stan without discussing my own life, so ingrained is he in the very core of the person I am today. Comic books were always around me, from my very earliest memories in the mid-1960s, those beautiful and crazy, four-colour treasures were always to hand, courtesy of a family that believed in the power of reading and in the stimulation of the imagination.
At first the comics were probably quite random, though I recall some Superman titles and an adaptation of King Kong that I literally read to pieces. These, along with the seminal American monster magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, were the guides that quickly took me past Jack & Jill books.
Then in 1972, Marvel, whose characters until then had been spottily reprinted in comics from other UK publishers, such as Odhams, launched their very first issue of The Mighty World of Marvel. A weekly title, featuring Fantastic Four, Hulk and Spider-Man, it continued in the house style set by the original US Marvel comics, crediting the creators of the strips and led by the breathless purple prose of the personable and garrulous front-man for the company, the one and only Stan Lee.
Like Lee’s teenage hero Peter Parker being transformed by the radioactive bite of a spider, I was bitten and entranced with not only these larger than life super-hero characters, but by the very idea of Marvel and its editorial Bullpen, where creators such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Marie & John Severin, Don Heck, John Buscema, Gene Colan and many more dreamed up a never-ending series of stories to further stimulate my senses and, even better, encourage my own budding talents as an artist!
In October 1975, Lee and Hulk artist Herb Trimpe came to the UK to appear at the music venue, The Roundhouse, in London’s Camden. The show they put on was like a music gig, with Lee & Trimpe striding the stage like Plant and Page, rock gods of the comic pages to these youthful eyes. I had a front row ticket, alongside my lovely, flu-ridden Mum, who didn’t want eleven year-old me travelling across London on my own at night. Getting to meet my hero was beyond exciting, and that night is still firmly fixed in my head, as I can still feel the heat of the spotlights and hear my Mum coughing beside me.
I’d meet Stan again the following year, and buried somewhere in my loft (I hope) is a glossy, black & white still of me handing him my copy of Captain Britain, issue one, to sign (I still have that too).
I grew up alongside Peter Parker (some years older than me, of course, so he was a fictional, aspirational character), watching him graduate high school and head to college, then find himself in the hectic world of the freelance photographer – I could never have imagined my own life path would be so similar. This explains a large part of why Parker and Spider-Man remain my most-loved of Lee’s co-creations.
Only in my wildest dreams did I ever see myself actually working for Marvel, and yet, many years later there I was. Frankly, my career could have stopped at that moment and I’d have died with a grin on my face. Seeing my first Marvel pay cheque (ah, the days of printed pay cheques) emblazoned with images of the Hulk and Spider-Man was a genuinely surreal moment, to the point I almost (almost, mind…) didn’t cash it!
As I got older, I became more aware of the realities behind the comic stories: of the horrible practices of the comic book industry that saw creators robbed of their artwork and their intellectual ownership of characters that would go on to be financially exploited in all kinds of media. Slowly, and often posthumously, these creators or their families are seeing deals made to bring some equity to this shameful situation, and my hero turned out to have feet of clay as it’s pretty obvious that Lee helped perpetuate these problems.
That’s alway a useful learning curve for fans, of course, to be able to see those we admire as imperfect people instead of lofty icons.
And there was further sadness involving Stan, as in recent years he became embroiled in health and money issues, in seemingly endless attempts to recapture the creative heights of years long gone. This day has seemed ever more inevitable as he became more fragile with each appearance. And so it is.
But what a legacy this man left. A modern-day mythology that carries on the ages-old traditions of heroic storytelling, fables of characters we can and must aspire to be, whose ultimate goodness is set not in the wheel of victory, but in the attempt of victory, to be the better part of ourselves. Isn’t that something to get excited about?
For me personally, Stan and his amazing co-creations literally changed my life. Does that sound grandiose? Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Stan appearing in my narrative directly led to me working in comic books for many years, and I wouldn’t now be working in animation had his vast imagination (and those of the people he worked with) not stirred my own imagination, my own creativity.
Thank you, Stan, for everything. You were The Man.
Yours truly, with my original copy of the comic book that changed my life.
My copies of the Origins of Marvel Comics (and its sequels), signed by Stan in 1975 and ’76.
Prepare to scream with delight or grind your teeth in furious indignation: HBO announced today that their Watchmen TV series is a go, following recent production of a pilot episode.
To further find your bliss/fuel your anger, writer/producer Damon Lindelof has warned not to expect another direct adaptation likeZack Snyder’s incredibly faithful 2009 movie. Lindelof wrote on Instagram that his version is the “New Testament” to the original’s “Old Testament”. HBO also released the following logline via Indiewire:
“Set in an alternate history where “superheroes” are treated as outlaws, “Watchmen” embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel while attempting to break new ground of its own.”
Lindelof has also said of the show:
“This story will be set in the world its creators painstakingly built…but in the tradition of the work that inspired it, this new story must be original. It has to vibrate with the seismic unpredictability of its own tectonic plates. It must ask new questions and explore the world through a fresh lens. Most importantly, it must be contemporary. The Old Testament was specific to the Eighties of Reagan and Thatcher and Gorbachev. Ours needs to resonate with the frequency of Trump and May and Putin and the horse that he rides around on, shirtless. And speaking of Horsemen, The End of the World is off the table…which means the heroes and villains–as if the two are distinguishable–are playing for different stakes entirely. Some of the characters will be unknown. New faces. New masks to cover them. We also intend to revisit the past century of Costumed Adventuring through a surprising yet familiar set of eyes…and it is here we will be taking our greatest risks.”
The show is sure to raise the ire of many fans of Watchmen, who think the Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’ story should not be continued (both for moral reasons – as Moore notoriously has disowned anything produced by DC or Warner Bros beyond their original work – and creative reasons – seeing the graphic novel’s story as sacrosanct), and Lindelof’s CV is also filled with divisive productions (Prometheus and Lost among them).
Personally I’m cautiously intrigued by this and with a cast headed up by Tom Mison, Jeremy Irons, Regina King, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Dylan Schombing, Lily Rose Smith, Adelynn Spoon, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Louis Gossett Jr., Adelaide Clemens, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent and Andrew Howard, this promises to be, if nothing else, a major talking point when it hits HBO in 2019.
Just as Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War walks away with with approximately half the universe’s hard-earned cash (see the movie, you’ll get it), the company shows that the best way to follow up something so huge is by going small.
The stakes in Ant-Man and the Wasp seem relatively more low key, with a villain who wants to “take over the world… or whatever” (according to the always entertaining Michael Peña in the trailer).
It will be interesting to see how this movie works in relation to, well… what was happening in the Avengers movie… but this certainly seems to be a generally lighter toned affair.
Ant Man and the Wasp opens on July 6th, bringing back most of the original movie’s cast while adding Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Pfeiffer and the wonderful Walton Goggins.
Personally, I c…ant… wait. #SorryNotSorry
The Marvel films have always struggled with villains, it’s a frequently heard complaint that few villains beyond Loki and, arguably, Erik Killmonger, have left too much of an impression. So let’s get this right out there – not only was Thanos worth waiting for, but he instantly ranks at the top of the hall of infamy.
There was concern that the Mad Titan would be a let down, that he couldn’t possibly live up to the almost ten-year build which has led us to this point. But the combination of a wonderfully layered performance from Josh Brolin and superlative animation effects work brings Jim Starlin’s deranged creation to full, terrifying life in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War.
This feat is even more impressive in a film which (as I’m sure you know from the hype) brings together all the expected characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and perhaps even some unexpected ones).
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo (and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) do a splendid job of pulling together an increasingly active number of franchises, giving most characters a neat arc and/or several great moments, though there are exceptions, inevitable even with a two-hour forty minute running time, and a certain amount of shorthand is definitely at play. That they manage this without spending an hour on exposition is a minor miracle, and a testament to deft storytelling (and the good will engendered by eighteen previous films).
There’s an undeniable frisson of excitement (especially for a Marvel geek like me) to see new combinations of characters, having Spider-Man and Doctor Strange interact left me with the biggest grin on my face, but the filmmakers know they need more than just a Marvel Team-Up to make a satisfying film.
There are real stakes here, literally the fate of the universe (or half of it… you’ll see…) hangs in the balance, with a number of different strands occurring in different locations on different worlds, and the action feels all the more vital because Marvel have taken the time to build these worlds and make us care for the characters. And it’s no spoiler to say your emotions will really be put through the wringer – I wept a solitary, manly tear on more than one occasion.
But don’t think the threat of the universe coming to an end or talk of tears means it’s all doom and gloom: this is a thrill-a-minute adventure that hits the ground running and barely lets up on the action, but as usual it’s mixed in with some fabulous and funny character interplay – Thor with Peter Quill and Doctor Strange with Tony Stark bring unexpected delights.
There’s also a distinct feel here of the beginning of a changing of the guard – the first ten years of Marvel movies has seen a very definite roster of characters and Infinity War shows us that the company’s willingness to shake things up is part of what makes them so successful, and which lends even more weight to the story, of course. Even the obligatory post-credit scene nods in that direction (it’s a nod that literally made me whoop in the cinema).
Is there a downside to all this? I suspect that a casual filmgoer would be rather lost but y’know in that case, get with the Marvel game like the rest of the population, I guess.
Avengers: Infinity War is a huge, and hugely exciting, comic book, sci-fi epic that really sees the gutsy long-game approach taken by Marvel pay off, giving us the Empire Strikes Back of their bold, long form narrative, and finally giving the Marvel Cinematic Universe its own Darth Vader, a cosmic villain with a welcome emotional core.
And really, so as not to wander into the spoiler zone, that’s about all I can say, except that this is the huge Marvel adventure we’ve been waiting for.
This is the end*… but bring on May 3, 2019 and Avengers 4 as soon as possible please, I only have so many fingernails left to chew through.
*Speaking of the end, you KNOW to stay right through to the very end of the credits, right…!?
You know how some days are – non-stop work, no time to think, you come home exhausted and… there’s a new trailer for Marvel’s Black Panther waiting for you. Result!
Feast your eyes on this and we’ll talk more after…
Well, that looks cool as heck, right!? Ryan Coogler’s take on the hidden nation of Wakanda is spectacular, and looks ready to open up a whole, new corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And with that truly amazing cast Black Panther is shaping up to be another in the increasingly refreshing run of Marvel movies led by Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 and Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok.
As a bonus you can ogle the lovely new poster, below.
Black Panther opens on February 16th and that date can’t arrive quickly enough.