Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Spider-Man's future in the MCU at an end?

Marvel's late nineties movie deal with Sony, literally, culminated in handing over the golden goose (for peanuts) such was the comic book company's dire fiscal state at the time.

Subsequently, Sony built a Spider-Man cinematic franchise that has enjoyed critical and commercial success with Sam Raimi's trilogy, starring Tobey Maguire, and then stymied by a repetitive reboot despite Andrew Garfield's best efforts in the titular role. He was great.

In the meantime. Disney buys Marvel and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), starting innocuously enough with Iron Man during an era of middling superhero fare, becomes a multi-billion dollar industry unto itself. However, the beloved web-slinger was nowhere to be seen and Thanos was coming in search of six infinity stones to power his Infinity Gauntlet.

Enter Captain America: Civil War and Tom Holland's spectacular Spider-Man. I went there. Sorry, not sorry. Finally, Sony and Disney agreed to a 5-picture deal that would see Peter Parker crossover to the Avengers with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige overseeing creative chores. In effect, Marvel was curating Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's beloved superhero and Sony handled distribution. Make Mine Marvel, Sony!

Yesterday, news broke Disney and Sony were at an impasse despite Spider-Man: Far From Home becoming Sony's most successful property eclipsing Skyfall. Because shareholders and money. Reaction from fans was immediate and calls to boycott Sony started trending on social media. This tarnished news from Gamescom that Insomniac Games, long associated with the PlayStation brand, had become a first-party studio in the wake of the success of Marvel's Spider-Man on PS4.

It would be a surprise to everyone (including shareholders, I'm sure) if Disney and Sony don't resolve this amicably. It's in their mutual interest. Sony struggles to manage successful film franchises as evidenced by an ailing James Bond and the House of Mouse has the creative nous.

Disney faced a similar situation with the X-Men at Twentieth Century Fox. CEO Bob Iger bought its film and television assets including Star Wars: A New Hope. Could Disney buy Sony? Sure, its war chest is in the billions of dollars. Will it? Doubtful.

What do you think? Can you see Tom Holland's Spider-Man battling Tom Hardy's Venom in a Sony-only universe? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Kevin Smith brings Masters of the Universe to Netflix

Director Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy) is executive producer and showrunner on a new Masters of the Universe (MotU) anime series, by Powerhouse Animation (Castlevania), for Netflix announced during Power-Con 2019.

This is exciting news for fans (myself included) of the beloved eighties toy franchise from Mattel and follows the successful reboot of He-Man spin-off She-ra on the popular streamer.

The official series synopsis:

"A radical return to Eternia, Revelation is a direct sequel series to the classic era of Masters of the Universe. Featuring fan-favourites He-Man, Orko, Cringer and Man-At-Arms, the story pits our heroic warriors and guardians of Castle Grayskull against Skeletor, Evil-Lyn, Beast Man and the vile legions of snake mountain!

But after a ferocious final battle forever fractures Eternia, it’s up to Teela to solve the mystery of the missing Sword of Power in a race against time to prevent the end of the Universe! Her journey will uncover the secrets of Grayskull at last. This is the epic He-Man and the Masters of the Universe saga fans have waited 35 years to see!"

Here’s what Smith had to say:

“I’m Eternia-ly grateful to Mattel TV and Netflix for entrusting me with not only the secrets of Grayskull, but also their entire Universe.

In Revelation, we pick up right where the classic era left off to tell an epic tale of what may be the final battle between He-Man and Skeletor!

Brought to life with the most metal character designs Powerhouse Animation can contain in the frame, this is the Masters of the Universe story you always wanted to see as a kid!”

MotU super fan Pixel Dan interviewed Smith at Power-Con.

Some of my earliest blog posts chronicled collecting MotU action figures in the eighties and noughties, and Smith is passionate about Mattel's franchise. The brand is experiencing a renaissance with a new live-action movie and Origins toy line invading retail fall 2020. So, stay tuned for further news.

Are you excited for Masters of the Universe: Revelation? Do you think there'll be a He-Man and She-Ra crossover now both are at Netflix? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 19 August 2019

International rollout for Disney+

Disney+ launches 12th November in the US and the House of Mouse's nascent streaming service will also be available in selected international markets in fall 2019. Netherlands and Canada on 12th November and Australia and New Zealand 19th November.

That'll be great news for fellow Star Wars fans living in those countries as they'll get to see the exclusive 8-part live-action series The Mandalorian this holiday season.

Disney+ will be available on the following devices at launch:

Apple TV
Android mobile devices
Android TV
Desktop web browsers
PlayStation 4 (PS4)
Roku streaming players
Roku TV
Xbox One

There's no news regarding a UK launch. Again, it's worth reiterating DisneyLife has been available since 2015, on a range of devices, and there's a pre-existing first-run deal with Sky that is possibly holding things up. However, there's speculation pointing to an early 2020 launch. So, Avengers: Endgame may be the last Marvel Studios' film to premiere on Sky Cinema on Christmas Day.

Do you intend to subscribe to Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Ewan McGregor back as Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney+?

This is the Disney+ Star Wars live-action series fans are looking for. If the rumours are true, Ewan McGregor is about to reprise the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

This isn't the first time the actor has been linked to a return to a galaxy far, far away... A Kenobi spin-off movie was highly-anticipated but seemingly shuttered in the wake of Solo: A Star Wars Story's dismal box office success.

McGregor's portrayal of a younger Kenobi was a highlight of George Lucas' prequel trilogy. The untitled Kenobi series will join Jon Favreau's The Mandalorian and a prequel to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story focussing on Cassian Andor and K-2SO on Disney+.

With The Rise of Skywalker closing the 9-part Skywalker saga, fans may see McGregor sooner as a Force ghost this holiday season. Further news regarding the Kenobi series is expected at the D23 Expo.

Disney+ launches 12th November in the US with The Mandalorian.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Kylo Ren in the final season of Star Wars Resistance

Star Wars Resistance returns for its second and final season in the fall. Lucasfilm has released a trailer for the upcoming season set between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.

Nick Smith reviewed season one and will be back for the epic finale, assuming he doesn't get into any First Order entanglements at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, Walt Disney World.

Are you surprised Star Wars Resistance is ending after only two seasons? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Barbie in a galaxy far, far away...

In the run-up to the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Mattel and Disney have joined forces for a new Star Wars-inspired Barbie collection based on Darth Vader, R2-D2 and, my personal favourite and childhood crush, Princess Leia.

Star Wars x Barbie is an homage to Star Wars: A New Hope. This eponymous collection, inspired by the film’s original concept art, re-imagines iconic characters through a distinctive Barbie high-fashion filter. Darth Vader Barbie reminds me of a female Kylo Ren cosplayer I saw at Star Wars Celebration Europe, which is very cool.

Barbie is no stranger to sci-fi. Kirk, Spock and Uhura dolls were released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek.

The new Star Wars x Barbie figures retail for $100 dollars and are available for pre-order from (affiliate link) and (affiliate link). No doubt these will prove to be very popular with Barbie and Star Wars collectors alike.

Which is your favourite Barbie from the collection? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is going to be epic

With just weeks until The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Netflix has released a final trailer for the epic 10-part prequel series to Jim Henson's classic puppet-populated fable.

The trailer serves up gorgeous vista upon vista and artistic ambition to rival Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings. The Gelfling clans are forced to unite to depose the tyrannical Skeksis who have corrupted the Dark Crystal.

Age of Resistance boasts a stellar voice cast from Game of Thrones to Star Wars. Included in this epic ensemble are Taron Egerton (Kingsman), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones) as Deet, Caitriona Balfe (Outlander) as Tavra, Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter), Harris Dickinson (Maleficent 2), Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones), Eddie Izzard (Ocean’s Thirteen), Theo James (Divergent), Toby Jones (Captain America: The First Avenger), Shazad Latif (Star Trek: Discovery), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (The Cloverfield Paradox), Mark Strong (Shazam!), Alicia Vikander (Tomb Raider), Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), and Hannah John-Kamen (Game of Thrones).

Whilst waiting for 30th August, I'm revisiting Jim Henson's The Storyteller starring the late Sir John Hurt (Alien). It remains a spellbinding tour of European fables retold by Anthony Minghella (The English Patient) and is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Triple Force Friday this October

Force Friday is a merchandising event that started with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and continued with The Last Jedi. Who can forget the introduction of Sphero's licensed range of app-enabled droids? BB-8, BB-9E and R2-D2 have pride of place in my study.

This year, Force Friday celebrates the release of the Disney+ live-action series The Mandalorian, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and The Rise of Skywalker on 4th October.

As with previous Force Friday celebrations, retailers will be staging special events around the world. Smyths Toys recently took over my local Toys "R" Us store. So, I may venture along for a midnight opening.

Are you excited for the launch of Triple Force Friday this October? What new products are you hoping to see? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

The Force is strong with Disney+

When Disney+ launches on 12th November, US-based Star Wars fans have much to look forward to. The original, prequel and sequel trilogies (not including The Last Jedi) will be available from day-one alongside the first live-action series The Mandalorian, executive produced by Jon Favreau.

However, due to existing distribution deals, Disney+ will, initially, be lighter on Marvel content. Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man and Iron Man 3 will be available with Avengers: Endgame premiering in December.

Fellow true believers will be looking further ahead to exclusive series Loki, Hawkeye, Falcon & Winter Soldier, WandaVision, What If...? and much more.

In the wake of Disney buying Twentieth Century Fox film and television assets, every season of The Simpsons will be available. It's also worth noting Seth MacFarlane's The Orville has been moved to Hulu.

Disney will offer a bundle package of its three streaming services - Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99 a month starting on 12th November, CEO Bob Iger announced today. This is a serious mission statement and undercuts many of its competitors including Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO.

"Disney+ marketing is going to start to hit in later this month, later in August.... you will see marketing, both in traditional and non-traditional directions, basically digital and analog," Iger said. "And of course, all the touchpoints that the company has, whether it's people staying at our hotels, people who have our co-branded credit card, people who are members of D23, annual pass holders."

Will you be subscribing to Disney+? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Kevin Conroy's Bruce Wayne in Crisis on Infinite Earths

The CW's Crisis on Infinite Earths is shaping up to be the biggest Arrowverse crossover event yet with much speculation surrounding it, including a merger with the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). This would finally put DC Comics on par with Marvel in terms of transmedia storytelling. DC Comics continues to play second fiddle to Marvel, and Disney+ will only serve to widen the gap with its roster of exclusive live-action series from Loki to WandaVision.

From Brandon Routh (DC's Legends of Tomorrow) reprising the role of Superman (he was great in the underrated Superman Returns) to rumours Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman), Burt Ward (Batman) and Tom Welling (Smallville) will all appear in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Now, Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series) is officially confirmed to be playing "future" Bruce Wayne. To say I'm stoked about this would be a gross understatement. For a generation of animation and video game fans, Conroy is Batman.

During the seventies and eighties, Marvel UK monopolised my comic book reading (with the occasional diversion into 2000 AD, Eagle and Battle Action Force) and DC Comics' Crisis on Infinite Earths passed me by. So, I've bought a digital copy of the reissue to catch-up before the crossover is broadcast later this year.

Are you looking forward to Crisis on Infinite Earths and who would you like to see make a cameo? Let me know in the comments below.