Review: Our favorite trickster god is charismatic as ever in Loki premiere

Tom Hiddleston stars in the latest MCU series, <em>Loki</em>, which premiered last night on Disney+.

Enlarge / Tom Hiddleston stars in the latest MCU series, Loki, which premiered last night on Disney+. (credit: Marvel Studios)

It’s hard to write a killer TV pilot that compels viewers to come back for more. You have to establish a fictional world, introduce the main characters and core premise, and set up a compelling trigger for the subsequent chain of events—all without making things seem frenetic or incoherent and without employing labored explanatory riffs. That’s true even in the case of a well-established fictional universe like the MCU. Fortunately, the first episode of Loki, Marvel’s new series reviving Tom Hiddleston’s beloved Asgardian trickster god, mostly gets it right—even if it does occasionally lapse into lecturing narrator mode (“talky, talky”).

(Only mild spoilers below, with a bit of spoiler-y speculation below the gallery.)

We all remember that scene in Avengers: Endgame when a 2012 version of Loki snags the tesseract containing the Space Stone and vanishes through a portal. That’s where the series opens, with our trickster materializing in the middle of Mongolia’s Gobi Desert, much to the bemusement of a gaggle of locals. It’s not long before another portal opens to bring forth a team of armed guards who “arrest” Loki on behalf of an entity known as the Time Variance Authority (TVA). TVA agents are the so-called “custodians of chronology” in the MCU, monitoring violations to the timeline. Catch their attention by trying to change history, and you just might meet the wrong end of the Retroactive Cannon (Ret Con) and have your entire history deleted from the historical timeline.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#disney-plus, #gaming-culture, #loki, #marvel-studios, #mcu, #mcu-phase-four, #streaming-television

0

We have our first good look at Eternals as Marvel drops extended teaser

Gemma Chan and Richard Madden head a star-studded cast in Marvel’s Eternals, part of Phase Four of the MCU.

Last month, we got the first teaser for Marvel Studios’ upcoming film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the second feature film in the MCU’s planned Phase Four. (Black Widow will be the first when it premieres in July.) Now we have our first real look at Eternals, in which members of an immortal alien race with cosmic powers reunite to protect the Earth from their malevolent counterparts.

The film is based on the comic book series of the same name created by Jack Kirby in 1976. The storyline tells of alien Celestials who visited Earth a million years ago, creating two divergent races—the Eternals and the Deviants—by way of genetic experiments. Those experiments were also responsible for the rare emergence of mutations in certain humans, giving them super powers. The Eternals protect the human race from the Deviants, and the two races engage in recurrent violent clashes. The Eternals’ immortality and powers come from cosmic energy and their ability to channel it.

Kirby was partly inspired by Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End (1953)—which featured Overlords who controlled Earth’s fate—and the 1968 nonfiction bestseller Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Daniken, postulating the concept of alien gods. Eternals also owes something to New Gods, Kirby’s own earlier series for DC Comics, circa 1970. When that epic saga series was cancelled (and left incomplete), he wrote Eternals for Marvel Comics. A new Eternals comic series was launched in January of this year, written by Kieron Gillen with art by Esad Ribić.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#entertainment, #eternals, #film, #gaming-culture, #marvel-studios, #mcu-phase-four

0

Review: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier aims high, but falls a bit short

Confession: I wanted to like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier more than I ultimately did. The various trailers seemed so promising, giving off vibes of a “buddy cop” action flick, with a bit more room to flesh out the character development and themes. What we got was a show that was trying to do too many things at once—including setting the stage for the Phase 4 films coming down the pike—and as a result, it never did any of those things as well as it could have done.

(There are a few major spoilers below the second gallery. We’ll give you a heads up when we get there.)

F&WS picks up in the wake of Avengers: End Game, when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) handed his Captain America shield to Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson (The Falcon) and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier), having chosen to remain in the past and live out his life with Peggy Carter. Sam and Bucky must grapple with losing Steve and the burden of his legacy. Meanwhile, the US government has named their own new Captain America, John Walker (Wyatt Russell), a decorated veteran and ultimate “good soldier” who thinks he can better embody “American values” than Rogers. (The nerve!)

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#disney-plus, #entertainment, #falcon-and-the-winter-soldier, #gaming-culture, #marvel-studios, #mcu-phase-four, #streaming-television, #television, #tv-reviews

0

Marvel drops first teaser for Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings

Simu Liu stars as a martial artist trying to escape his past in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

A young man who once trained as an assassin for a Chinese criminal organization discovers just how hard it can be to escape one’s past in the first teaser for Marvel Studios’ upcoming film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings, part of the MCU’s Phase Four. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, it is the first Marvel film to feature an Asian lead—Simu Liu, best known for his role as Jung Kim on the sitcom Kim’s Convenience—as well as a predominantly Asian/Asian diaspora cast and crew.

The title character first appeared in a Marvel comic in 1973, after the company had tried and failed to acquire the comic book rights for the popular 1970s TV show Kung Fu (starring David Carradine). Modeled in part on Bruce Lee, Shang-Chi was originally the son of Chinese criminal mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu, trained in martial arts since childhood to become an assassin. After Marvel lost the rights to the Fu Manchu character, Shang-Chi’s paternity became murkier, but the international crime lord theme was common—although his father was revealed to be an ancient immortal sorcerer in the Secret Avengers storyline.

Shang-Chi has not traditionally had special superpowers, but his training in multiple styles of martial arts and assorted weaponry makes him a formidable opponent and a useful ally. Plus, he is a master of chi, making him even stronger and faster—fast enough to dodge bullets. When he eventually joins forces with the Avengers in the comics, Tony Stark gives him a pair of bracelets to further focus his chi (as well as some snazzy high-tech nunchaku).

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#entertainment, #film, #film-trailers, #gaming-culture, #marvel-studios, #mcu, #mcu-phase-four

0

Our favorite trickster god teams up with time cops in official Loki trailer

Tom Hiddleston returns as everyone’s favorite Norse god of mischief in the forthcoming limited spinoff series Loki.

We just finished enthusing over WandaVision and are still awaiting the final episodes of The Falcon and the Winter Solider, but Marvel has a lot more in store for us. The studio just dropped the official trailer for Loki, its spinoff limited series starring Tom Hiddleston as the charismatic trickster demigod and (adoptive) brother to Thor. According to the official premise, after absconding with the Tesseract in Avengers: Endgame, Loki “is a fish-out-of-water when he lands in a world of trouble with the bureaucratic TVA (Time Variance Authority).” One Ars staffer described the overall tone as “Men in Black meets Doctor Who,” which sounds like a winning combination to me.

As we’ve reported previously, Marvel Studios announced the development of its various limited series for Disney+ in 2018, all featuring supporting characters from the films who were not given their own standalone movies within the Marvel cinematic universe (MCU). Details have largely been kept under wraps, but we do know that, like WandaVisionLoki will tie into the forthcoming MCU film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. And like Falcon and the Winter Soldier, it will consist of six episodes.

A brief shot from Loki that aired during the Super Bowl last year showed the titular character wearing a jumpsuit with the initials “TVA” stamped on it. TVA agents are the so-called “custodians of chronology” who monitor violations to the timeline in the MCU. Catch their attention by trying to change history, and you just might meet the wrong end of the Retroactive Cannon (Ret-Can) and have your entire history deleted from the historical timeline.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#disney-plus, #entertainment, #gaming-culture, #loki, #marvel-studios, #tom-hiddleston, #trailers

0

‘Black Widow’ and ‘Cruella’ will get Premier Access releases on Disney+

In what looks like both an endorsement of its Premier Access streaming strategy and a tacit acknowledgement that theatrical moviegoing won’t be returning to normal anytime soon, Disney just announced that its movies “Black Widow” and “Cruella” will be coming to Disney+ at the same time that they’re released in theaters.

That means Disney+ subscribers will have the option to pay an additional, one-time $29.99 fee to watch the live action remake of “Cruella” at home on May 28, or to do the same for “Black Widow” on July 9. (The movies will later become available to all Disney+ subscribers at no extra charge.)

Disney first tested out this strategy with the release of the live action “Mulan” last fall, followed by the animated “Raya and the Last Dragon” earlier this month. The studio has released other movies, like Pixar’s “Soul,” directly to Disney+ without an extra fee, and it says it will do the same for Pixar’s “Luca” on June 18.

Other big Disney releases have been pushed back repeatedly — “Black Widow,” for example, was originally supposed to be released on May 1 of last year, and Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has reportedly resisted sending it straight to Disney+. (This will be the first Marvel Studios film released since the beginning of the pandemic.)

However, Disney executives may only be willing to wait for so long. And because Marvel’s movies and new Disney+ shows are often interconnected, delaying one release can also require pushing back several others at the same time.

As vaccinations continue and COVID-19 case numbers decline from their peaks, movie theaters are reopening in major markets like Los Angeles and New York — but at reduced capacity, with box office numbers still far below what they were pre-pandemic.

In the face of this uncertainty (as well as a general shift to streaming), other Hollywood studios have adopted a variety of hybrid strategies for their 2021 theatrical slates. All Warner Bros. movies will be released simultaneously on HBO Max this year, while Paramount will be bringing its films to Paramount+ in an accelerated fashion, 30 to 45 days after the theatrical release.

#disney, #entertainment, #marvel-studios, #media, #the-walt-disney-co

0

Black Widow’s delays will finally end with combined theatrical, Disney+ launch

After losing its initial May 2020 release date to the emerging COVID-19 pandemic, Disney and Marvel Studios’ Black Widow has finally settled on a release strategy: a simultaneous launch in theaters and as a “premier access” purchase on the Disney+ subscription service, both coming Friday, May 28.

Should you choose to watch Black Widow at home, this will require a one-time payment of $30 on top of your Disney+ subscription fee, which will unlock the film for repeat viewings ahead of its eventual release for all base subscribers. The same will apply to Cruella, the live-action prequel to the Disney animated classic 101 Dalmatians, which will get its own theater-and-Disney+ simul-launch on Friday, July 9.

The announcement, as distributed in a Disney press release on Tuesday, notes that this follows the “successful release” of CGI-animated feature Raya and the Last Dragon both in theaters and on Disney+ on March 5—apparently confirming that the decision made dollars and sense for everyone at Disney, following a similar release strategy for 2020’s live-action version of Mulan.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#black-widow, #disney, #disney-plus, #gaming-culture, #hbo-max, #marvel-studios

0

Falcon & Winter Soldier series premiere: More of Disney+‘s slow-burn status quo

How much energy can you muster for a drawn-out superhero option on TV this weekend? In terms of content that favors deliberately paced cinematics over instant, wham-bam action, the DC Comics universe already has a four-hour option capturing headlines—and for good reason.

Hence, HBO Max has mildly spoiled the debut of new Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The first episode launched Friday, March 19, without the surprise and weirdness factor that came with January’s Wandavision premiere. Without novelty on its side, the series has to stand on more familiar laurels. Thankfully it succeeds at that, but the results don’t quite reach the “rush to watch right now” conversation-starter status Disney+ has enjoyed over the past few months.

Shield retires a shield

This is now Marvel Studios’ second post-“unsnappening” series, and it’s the first to take a more predictable tack on the fallout throughout the Marvel universe. Endgame set this new TV series up in shameless corporate-synergy fashion when Chris Evans handed his Captain America shield to Anthony Mackie (The Falcon) and Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier), essentially telling audiences, “Two superheroes will continue a specific plotline—so stay tuuuuned.”

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#disney, #disney-plus, #gaming-culture, #marvel-studios, #tv-streaming

0

Marvel drops one last trailer for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier debuts this Friday on Disney+.

With WandaVision now in the rearview mirror, Marvel fans have turned their attention to the imminent premiere of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier this Friday. Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprise their roles as Sam Wilson (the Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier) for a series set after the events of Avengers: Endgame.

As we’ve reported previously, after the Avengers and their many allies finally defeated Thanos in Endgame, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) handed over his shield to Sam so he could take on the mantle. But will Sam accept it? That’s a big part of what The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will explore over the course of its six episodes, and showrunner Malcolm Spellman has said the tone will be similar to Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Sam and Bucky will “team up on a global adventure that tests their abilities—and their patience.” The primary villain will be Baron Helmut Zemo, a Sokovian colonel-turned-terrorist who is obsessed with defeating the Avengers, with Daniel Brühl reprising the role from Captain America: Civil War. Director Kari Skogland has said that his appearance in the series shows him “paying for his crimes” and “in a very sad place.”

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#disney-plus, #entertainment, #falcon-and-the-winter-soldier, #gaming-culture, #marvel-studios, #streaming-television

0

‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Is Marvel’s Latest Double Act

The new Disney+ series, starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, uses its superheroes to examine a world still on edge after a global catastrophe.

#disney-plus, #mackie-anthony, #marvel-studios, #stan-sebastian, #television, #the-falcon-and-the-winter-soldier-tv-program

0

Review: WandaVision sticks the landing with a very Marvel-esque finale

For all its touted meta-elements celebrating different TV decades, WandaVision wrapped up its nine-episode run in classic Marvel fashion, with Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda and Paul Bettany’s Vision valiantly defending their suburban nuclear family from the nefarious forces lined up against them. It was a satisfying, quite moving finale to this imaginative series. But fans expecting a surprise big-name cameo—Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange was a favorite of the pre-finale rumor mill—were disappointed.

(Some spoilers below; major reveals for finale below the gallery. We’ll give you a heads up when we get there,)

Frankly, I was skeptical of the WandaVision concept when the studio offered a brief sneak peek during D23 Expo 2019, Disney’s annual fan extravaganza. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige—a fan of classic sitcoms—envisioned the series as a love letter to the golden age of television, with each episode channeling a sitcom style from a particular decade. Head writer Jac Schaeffer (Captain Marvel, Black Widow) championed the concept from the start, despite a brief backlash against the perceived silliness of the title. Schaeffer thought viewers would change their minds once they actually saw the series, and she was right: WandaVision currently boasts a 92 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It even won over my skeptical soul.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#disney-plus, #entertainment, #gaming-culture, #marvel-studios, #streaming-television, #wandavision

0

Marvel drops action-packed two-minute Falcon and the Winter Soldier trailer

Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprise their roles as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes in Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, coming to Disney+ in March.

Marvel Studios did the Super Bowl right by releasing a lengthy two-minute trailer for its upcoming new series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.  Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprise their roles as Sam Wilson (the Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier) for the Disney+ show, which is set after the events of Avengers: Endgame. The pair will “team up on a global adventure that tests their abilities—and their patience.”

(Some spoilers for prior MCU films below.)

You may recall that after the Avengers and their many allies finally defeated Thanos in Endgame, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) handed over his shield to Sam so he could take on the mantle. But will Sam accept it? That’s part of what The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will explore over the course of its six episodes, and showrunner Malcolm Spellman has said the tone will be similar to Captain America: Winter Soldier. Marvel is purportedly spending in the range of $25 million per episode to ensure a cinematic quality for the series.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#disney-plus, #entertainment, #falcon-and-the-winter-soldier, #film, #film-trailers, #gaming-culture, #marvel-cinematic-universe, #marvel-studios, #mcu-phase-four, #trailers

0

Marvel’s Latest Frontier? In ‘WandaVision,’ It’s the Suburbs

Marvel’s first series for Disney+ is part drama, part homage to vintage sitcoms, following the misfit heroes played by Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany to some weird places.

#actors-and-actresses, #bettany-paul, #comic-books-and-strips, #disney-plus, #feige-kevin, #marvel-entertainment, #marvel-studios, #movies, #olsen-elizabeth-1989, #television, #walt-disney-company, #wandavision-tv-program

0

The Biggest Casting News From Disney’s Investor Day

“Black Panther 2” will not recast King T’Challa. Harrison Ford is picking up the hat and whip again. And “Star Wars” recruited Rosario Dawson for her own show.

#actors-and-actresses, #disney-plus, #marvel-studios, #movies, #pixar-animation-studios, #star-wars-movie, #television, #the-mandalorian-tv-program

0

We’ve got our first real look at Loki as Disney drops lengthy teaser trailer

Marvel’s Loki trailer.

Among the many (many!) tidbits unveiled during Disney’s Investor Day was a lengthy teaser trailer for Loki, the Marvel spinoff limited series featuring Tom Hiddleston’s charismatic trickster demigod and (adoptive) brother to Thor, last seen in Avengers: Endgame. Marvel Studios had vowed to provide “hefty” budgets for its various limited series, like WandaVision (which also has a new trailer), and this Loki teaser definitely has the high cinematic production values to show for it.

(Some spoilers below for Avengers: Endgame in particular.)

Marvel Studios announced the development of its various limited series for Disney+ in 2018, all featuring supporting characters from the films who were not given their own standalone films within the MCEU. Details have largely been kept tightly under wraps, but we do know that both Loki and WandaVision will tie into the forthcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Fan favorite Loki has always been one of the most multi-layered, psychologically complex characters, so we’re keen to see what the limited series has in store for him.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#disney-plus, #entertainment, #gaming-culture, #loki, #marvel-studios, #streaming-television

0

After 12 years, Clark Gregg prepares to bid farewell to Agent Coulson. Maybe.

Clark Gregg never imagined that Agent Phil Coulson would become such an emotional touchstone in the MCU, and beyond, when he first signed on for the role.

Enlarge / Clark Gregg never imagined that Agent Phil Coulson would become such an emotional touchstone in the MCU, and beyond, when he first signed on for the role. (credit: ABC)

Get ready to bid farewell to another Marvel property when the seventh and final season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiers next week. Over the course of six seasons, the team has battled Hydra, hostile Inhumans, and alien species, and traveled through time—sometimes aligning with the broader MCU, sometimes sticking to its own separate storylines. It’s been an equally eventful journey for actor Clark Gregg, who plays team leader Agent Phil Coulson.

(Spoilers for The Avengers and prior six seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. below.)

First introduced in 2008’s Iron Man, Coulson quickly became a fan favorite, appearing in Iron Man 2 (2010)  and Thor (2011), before Director Joss Whedon broke our hearts by unexpectedly killing off the character in The Avengers (2012).  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brought Coulson back from the dead to lead an elite squad of agents to take on the terrorist group Hydra, eventually incorporating the superhuman race called Inhumans into the storyline.  

Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#abc, #agent-coulson, #agents-of-shield, #entertainment, #gaming-culture, #marvel-cinematic-universe, #marvel-studios, #television

0