Tuesday, April 3, 2018

MCU News

Luke Cage has added Annabella Sciorra to the cast, playing Rosalie Carone. She's the creation of Chuck Dixon (1992) and one of many short-lived Punisher villains (she's part of a mafia family and has been dead since 1996). I mentioned back in December that the roster of Iron Fist villains was fairly small and this is just as true for Luke Cage. Given the budget limitations of the Netflix shows they have to steer clear of villains with special effects-heavy superpowers, making many of Luke/Danny's villains unavailable. Because of that I'm not surprised that we're seeing Punisher characters pilfered for use in other series' (he has a vast cast of villains who are suited to the format). I'm not expecting Rosalie to be the main villain, as Bushmaster (who definitely won't be using that name) and Nightshade--along with Shades and Mariah--are presumed to be the primary antagonists. It's worth noting the first two characters are also not original Luke Cage villains, being Iron Fist and Captain America foes initially (as I go over here).

We've learned Jay Ali has been cast as a series regular in Daredevil season three as one of the FBI roles reported by That Hashtag Show back in November. I've been speculating for awhile now that there might be something broader going on with the inclusion of agency characters in the various shows (ie, not regular police). The list:
The Punisher - featured the CIA and DHS (who would be involved in the show regardless)
Jessica Jones - hasn't strayed from standard police
Luke Cage - none yet announced
Daredevil - "Ben Jeffries" and "Steve" (FBI agents)
Iron Fist - "Tanya Parker" (a covert operative--perhaps CIA or something similar)
I'm probably reaching here as what stands out is having that kind of character in Iron Fist (not typically something you'd expect there). My hope is that we'll see a The Defenders team-up versus the Kingpin (who tends to engender that kind of attention), but what this might indicate is a stronger leaning on procedural drama for the Netflix shows (I don't we'll see a repeat of Jessica Jones' season two soap operaish approach).

I finally finished watching The Runaways--I got about halfway through the show back in December, but things got in the way of me completing it (that's the problem with not dropping all the episodes at once--the can be interrupted flow). While Hulu's offering has a different feel from the Netflix properties, I quite enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to another season. The showrunners (Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage) found a way to make their limited special effects work and even though it has a strong YA leaning it avoided the worst elements that come with that (the romance is cringe-worthy, but otherwise everything worked for me).

While the Marvel TV remains largely disconnected from itself and completely detached from the MCU, Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson) is going to get one last hurrah as he's slatted to appear in Captain Marvel (along with Ronan the Accuser and Korath from Guardians of the Galaxy; and Maria Hill from both Avengers films and Captain America: Winter Soldier). Given the time frame the movie is set in (the 1990s) it's also possible the older Howard Stark (Iron Man 2, Ant-Man, and Civil War), Thunderbolt Ross (The Incredible Hulk/Captain America: Civil War), Everett Ross (Civil War and Black Panther), Hank Pym (Ant-Man/Ant-Man and the Wasp), Janet Van Dyne (Ant-Man and the Wasp), and Bill Foster (Ant-Man and the Wasp) could appear. I'd be shocked if Peggy Carter wasn't featured (an MCU favourite). The announced characters are already more than enough, but it's interesting considering which characters could appear given the era.

I wanted to briefly dismiss some articles that have come out recently claiming Doctor Strange 2 has been confirmed (something I think will happen in due course): all of these posts derive from a report on Movieweb which simply describes what writer C. Robert Cargill and director Scott Derrickson have said they would do if they get a sequel. The point here isn't that we won't get a sequel (I believe we will), but simply the source of the confirmation is erroneous in this case.

I believe that behind the scenes Fox is doing Disney a favour by delaying New Mutants long enough for them to kill it (an opinion Andre at Midnight's Edge shares). The deal is a good one for the sellers (the Murdochs), so it certainly suits them to help out their buyer. Since the underwhelming trailer for New Mutants dropped in October of 2017, the only news has been delays: the first delay was announced in January, just three months prior to release (moving to February, 2019), and now it has been moved to August, 2019, which means it will absolutely be in Marvel's control (and, I suspect, never released to avoid sullying an otherwise pristine brand). There's no reality that requires 16-months to fix New Mutants (that's enough time to re-film the entire movie). Also on the move is X-Men: Dark Phoenix, which shifted from November of this year to February of 2019. It's likely the unwanted sequel will still appear, since Fox can't really do more damage to the brand, but reading the tea leaves from studio shill Steve Weintraub X-Men requires unscheduled re-shoots that, in order to accommodate the actors, meant pushing the release back. All big-budget movies plan re-shoots, so this implies unplanned re-shoots meaning the film truly tanked in screen tests (rumours suggest the third act is the problem). These moves heavily impact Fox's original plan of three comicbook releases in 2018 (now just Deadpool 2, which has no impact on the future MCU-brand). While Comcast (which owns Universal) is trying hard to stop the sale to Disney, the delays buy more time to win out in the courts. As an end note: I'd thought we could kiss goodbye to stories about the Channing Tatum Gambit movie after Gore Verbinski left the project in January, but Omega Underground is reporting a new production date of June 19th (which, if true, means script revisions are finished and cameras will role in time for it to hit it's June 7, 2019 release date). Naturally, that schedule allows plenty of time for Disney to spike the film if they wish (as they surely would).

With Ike Perlmutter's interference out of the way at Marvel Studios (since September, 2015) I've been curious how the approach to casting would change. We all remember the controversy about the casting of the Ancient One in Doctor Strange (Tilda Swinton was cast before Perlmutter's removal, but that change was largely about placating China by avoiding using a Tibetan character). Prior to the change only two notable characters (Heimdall, Gamora, and Baron Mordo) had been ethnically switched (the latter is an alien, so the change isn't that dramatic). The first true test of diversity came with Spider-Man: Homecoming and while Sony had impute for that movie I think it illustrates what Marvel's approach will be (carried forward in Thor: Ragnorak): lead characters will remain as is, but secondary characters are fair game for change.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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