A lot of people complain about the recent deluge of Disney live-action remakes, and, despite the fact that I personally have liked almost all of said remakes (with the glaring exception of The Lion King), I can understand the reasoning behind these complaints. More often than not, Disney has rigidly insisted on remaking all of their most beloved classics – films like Aladdin, Cinderella, Beauty And The Beast, The Jungle Book…films that are already so good or at least iconic, that it’s hard to add anything new to the story. That’s why I’m so happy that, at long last, the studio is looking to remake a couple of its more niche or less popular films. Films like Hercules (oh, and also Robin Hood).
Hercules has a huge cult following, to no one’s surprise. The film is a lot of fun, it’s got some pretty good songs, and the characters are hilarious and endearing – especially the villainous Hades, and the snarky princess Megara. But thanks to a poor box-office performance, Hercules is often neglected by both the studio that made it and general audiences: not quite as much as, say, Atlantis: The Lost Empire or Treasure Planet, but enough that neither Hercules nor Megara are considered official Disney royalty, despite being the prince and princess of Olympus and its huge pantheon of gods. Incredibly unfair, if you ask me. But thankfully, the film will now get a second chance to prove its worth, in the form of an upcoming live-action remake (special shout-out to the folks at The DisInsider for obtaining this awesome new scoop).
Along with the news that the film is being remade for a theatrical debut and a hint that it will be a musical like the original (unless, I suppose, the non-musical Mulan remake does so well that Disney rethinks that strategy), there’s also several rumors of possible directors for the coveted project. Jon Favreau is probably the most obvious choice on the shortlist thanks to his work on the massively successful The Jungle Book and The Lion King remakes, but, from a creative standpoint, he seems like a weak option: perhaps The Lion King was just a fluke, but it’s also indicative of a mentality I personally don’t want to be applied to Hercules – adapting one of Disney’s more niche properties should be an opportunity for a more unique, creative vision, and Favreau’s has…not been that. And look, I’m not going to sit here and say that Bill Condon brought anything revolutionary to Beauty And The Beast, or that Guy Ritchie was able to leave his own distinct mark on Aladdin, but at least they added new material to the plot and expanded on some things, however small: The Lion King really didn’t do anything to widen the world or broaden the scope of the story. Then again, Favreau has proved to be a great producer on The Mandalorian, so I wouldn’t be averse to him having a role behind the scenes – but I don’t think he’d be the best choice for director.
The other names currently being floated are Gore Verbinski and the Russo Brothers. The former you will recognize as the director of Disney’s original Pirates Of The Caribbean trilogy (which, incidentally, I just watched a few days ago, and have been meaning to review), and the latter as the directing duo behind Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Now, I really like the Russo Brothers – despite some gripes I have with Endgame, I think the Russo’s are both extremely talented directors. But Verbinski…he’s the one I want helming the Hercules remake. His skill with action scenes and his eye for detail would help to make the film visually stunning, atmospheric, and appropriately epic for an adaptation of an ancient Greek myth.
As with any remake, there’s an opportunity for Disney to both honor the animated classic while updating the story with more modern sensibilities: due to the fact that Hercules has a smaller fanbase than the studio’s big hits, there’s probably an even greater likelihood that this remake could feature a number of changes – if I had to guess, I’d imagine that Megara will get a larger role, and probably won’t be subjected to the satyr Philoctetes’ unwanted advances, which, in the original film, quickly crossed a line into what would be considered harassment. And I’d love to see the remake draw more heavily from actual Greek mythology – the animated film was not very faithful to the Hercules myths, which means there’s a lot of room to improve on that front: though I’m 99% certain we still won’t see the actual Hercules origin story onscreen, as it involves Zeus cheating on his wife by disguising himself as the husband of a mortal woman.
There’s no word yet on who will be cast in the remake, though the internet is already abuzz with theories – the general consensus is that the Muses should be played by some of pop culture’s most talented black performing artists, from Beyoncé to Lizzo to Janelle Monaé, while singer Ariana Grande, coming off a strong and well-received recent performance of Megara’s ballad “I Won’t Say I’m In Love” appears to be the top choice to play the princess. As for Hades, I still maintain that Jeff Goldblum would be the ideal candidate for the zany, campy role, but I’m open to suggestions.
So what do you think of a Hercules remake? Who would you like to see come onboard as director? Who should star? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!
Ah, the drama. Earlier this morning, Marvel Cinematic Universe star Sebastian Stan made headlines by seemingly expressing his disappointment with the ending of his Marvel character’s story arc in Avengers: Endgame (and was welcomed by Star Wars star John Boyega into the small but steadily growing community of actors unhappy with how they were treated in the final installment of their respective franchises). I say “seemingly” because it’s kind of unclear whether or not Stan’s vague, single-emoji response to an angry fan’s social media post was an expression of sympathy or not. But since Stan hasn’t clarified his position, and the internet is having a field-day with this story, let’s assume for a moment that Stan really doesn’t like the conclusion to the long and tumultuous history of Bucky Barnes, a.k.a. The Winter Soldier, in the MCU.
First of all, we have to take a look at the post which stirred up all this controversy and drama. The tweet, itself a response to an official Marvel post about Bucky’s relationship with Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, read: “Together until the end of the line. Or until bad, inconsistent, out-of-character writing turns Steve Rogers into his own anti-thesis. Shouldn’t it be “together until the end of the lie” now?” The author’s harsh condemnation of certain Avengers: Endgame plotlines would have been controversial regardless of whether it was spotted by a certain Marvel actor (who doesn’t even have Twitter, which makes the whole situation even weirder), but the fact that Stan posted a single wide-eyed emoji (which, according to the internet, could mean anything from shock to embarrassment), is what’s got everyone talking. Why is he angry about this whole “end of the line” business anyway, and what would he have preferred to the ending we got?
together until the end of the line. Or until bad, inconsistent, out-of character writing turns Steve Rogers into his own anti-thesis. Shouldn't it be "together until the end of the lie" now?
Before we go any further, let me make it clear that I don’t necessarily disagree with either Stan or the fan, but that doesn’t mean this post is going to devolve into an embittered, anti-Endgame tirade. I like Endgame: I like it less now than I did upon first viewing, because I’ve identified many of the film’s flaws, and I’m not entirely satisfied with the many of the film’s decision, especially with regards to the final choices of characters like Tony Stark, Natasha Romanoff, and, yes, Steve Rogers, but I still really like it. I don’t think the Russo Brothers are bad directors, or that Disney/Marvel are evil for not creating the perfect movie, or that anybody has to be “cancelled” by the MCU fandom. I’m not the type to start unnecessary drama (though, if you’d like me to, I could start by saying that Avengers: Infinity War is a complete and utter mess: but I won’t). No, I just want to discuss what I feel is one of the most uninspired and uncomfortable decisions made by the Avengers: Endgame writing team.
Which just so happens to be the conclusion to Steve Rogers’ and Bucky Barnes’ relationship.
In the MCU, these two characters, more than probably any other duo (with the exception of Thor and his brother Loki), have constantly been paired up in increasingly dramatic and thrilling situations that have tested their loyalty to each other time and time again: and yet, despite everything, they’ve always found a way back to each other’s side. Steve gets frozen in the Arctic Ocean for seventy years? No biggie. Bucky is horribly maimed in a wartime accident and becomes the brainwashed servant of a malicious organization operating deep within the most secure counter-intelligence group in the world? Not a problem. Their relationship was important to the plot of Captain America: The First Avenger, crucial (obviously) to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and pivotal to Captain America: Civil War, in which it was a dispute over Bucky’s safety that led Steve to disobey the Sokovia Accords and start a conflict with Tony Stark that led to the titular civil war which broke up the Avengers, which in turn led to Steve and Bucky going on the run, which in part contributed to Thanos’ victory in Avengers: Infinity War, which set in motion all the events of Avengers: Endgame and thus everything that will happen in the MCU for decades to come. It’s not like Bucky is some side-character: he’s a really big deal.
And then, suddenly, he wasn’t.
At the end of Civil War, Bucky was sent to the African nation of Wakanda to recuperate from his injuries, and since then has shown up a handful of times onscreen, spoken a couple lines of dialogue, and has acted as little more than an extra in fight-scenes. In the post-credits scene of Black Panther, he’s not even that – he wakes up in Wakanda and gets the title of “White Wolf”, which seems to forebode big developments down the line. In Infinity War, he is gifted a seriously cool new vibranium arm that seems designed to wreak havoc on the battlefield but…doesn’t; and then, after being dusted by Thanos, he disappears for five years until the Endgame finale, where he has little more than a cameo as the guy standing silently but supportively behind Steve as he, Steve, makes some of the stupidest decisions of his unnaturally long life. And yes, he’s now getting his own Disney+ series (in which he will co-star alongside Anthony Mackie’s Falcon), but that can’t erase the fact that the conclusion of his relationship with the most important person in his life amounted to a brief exchange using dialogue recycled from their first movie. Meanwhile, Steve gets to enjoy a fairytale ending while everyone else in the MCU suffers irreversible pain and hardship; he goes back in time and unabashedly robs a strong, independent woman of her own agency and story arc, just so he can make good on a promise he made twenty-something movies ago. Was it so absolutely necessary that he have his dance with Peggy Carter, thereby creating his own alternate universe in which she never remarried after his disappearance, or had her own family, or moved on with her life?
No. It was, in my opinion, blatant fan-service that makes little to no sense given everything that has happened to Steve over the years. His entire arc has been one of trying to survive in the modern world, to find purpose and meaning in an era that no longer requires his antiquated morals and services, trying to adapt to society. At first, he fought with tooth and nail and Frisbee-shield: he pined after Peggy and he clung to Bucky, and he shook his head at newfangled customs. But he was beginning to change, to evolve, when Endgame happened – in Winter Soldier, he was forced to take a good long look at the government he had blindly followed into battle for decades, and in Civil War he actually fought back against all forms of government, becoming a rogue anarchist. He even had a new love-interest (albeit one who was related to his former love-interest, which made the whole situation highly disturbing and awkward). And then, after all that development, what does he do, first chance he gets? Hops in a time-machine and fills out an entire lifespan with Peggy Carter, thereby shattering any hope that he would move on with his own life, and stealing Peggy’s own opportunity to do so. And for Sebastian Stan and many other outraged viewers, the worst part of this was that it prevented Steve from having any time to interact with Bucky, a friend he had actually known for some time in both the past and present, and with whom he had a complex, meaningful relationship – for whom he had fought the entire world, for whom he had risked his own life countless times: a friend he had believed in when no one else would.
Steve’s ending is uninspired because it does nothing new with the character, but instead harps back on what made him interesting ten years ago: it reverses years of development in an attempt to make his story come full-circle. And unfortunately, this is similar to what happens to many other Avengers in the same movie: Tony Stark, who spent much of his life wondering how he would die and how many people he could save while doing it, died saving the entire world; Natasha Romanoff, whose every waking moment was spent giving thanks to her family and wondering when she would have to sacrifice everything for them, sacrificed everything, including her life, for them; Clint Barton, who just wanted a boring, middle-American family and a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, got all that after briefly turning into a bloodthirsty ninja and exacting vengeance on all the Asian crime-lords who had absolutely nothing to do with his family getting dusted by Thanos. Each of those endings tries to employ the full-circle trick, but they almost all fail because the full-circle trick doesn’t always work, and isn’t always that interesting, for the same reason why most people like the concept of free will more than fate – the idea that your destiny is predetermined is, honestly, kind of boring. There’s no surprise, no tension.
I can’t claim to understand what went into the making of Avengers: Endgame, or why the screenwriters and directors chose to do what they did with the story: but one thing that most Marvel fans have noticed (and have already speculated could explain the sudden disappearance of Bucky Barnes) is that soon after The Winter Soldier‘s release, a vocal division of the fandom rose up to demand that Steve and Bucky’s relationship go an extra step further and develop into a romantic dynamic. While both actors, Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan, were very supportive of the idea, it seems that higher-ups at Marvel were nervous even to acknowledge the idea of a Steve/Bucky love story, and tried to backpedal: they gave Steve a new, temporary female love interest, and even wrote in a conversation between the two where they talk about the extremely-straight-and-not-at-all-gay relationships that they had back in the 1940’s. And it didn’t take long before Bucky suddenly started vanishing from the movies and getting less and less screen-time. Maybe this is because of cowardice, or maybe it’s simply because the Russo Brothers didn’t want another gay character distracting from that crucial five-second cameo from the Unnamed Gay Man in Avengers: Endgame, but either way it does seem to have had a negative impact on how Marvel treated Bucky Barnes.
Now, we don’t know if this is why Stan doesn’t like the ending to Steve and Bucky’s relationship (technically, we don’t even know if he doesn’t like their ending). A single emoji can say a lot, but in this case it’s vague enough that I’m basing most of my assumptions off the original tweet, which said the Endgame plotline was “bad” (which is entirely subjective), “inconsistent” (which I’ve argued is an accurate assertion), and “out-of-character” (there’s no good answer to this one: after all, Steve is the character who rebelled against the very political structure that created him, but he’s also the same character who couldn’t even find a prospective date outside of his 1945 girlfriend’s immediate family). Now I leave it up to you, my dear jury, to decide for yourselves who’s right and who’s wrong in this debate. In my personal opinion, I have to agree with many of the claims made in the original tweet, but I’m also not going to sit here and say that Avengers: Endgame is poorly-written, as if it didn’t masterfully handle the extraordinarily large cast of characters across several timelines and in multiple parallel realities, right up until that iffy ending.
So what do you think? Is Sebastian Stan well within his rights to raise his voice, despite still being employed by Marvel (even John Boyega waited until after he was done with Star Wars to give them a piece of his mind), or does he come off as merely disgruntled? What do you, personally, think of the ending to Steve and Bucky’s story, and if you could rewrite it, would you? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!
Right up front, let me inform you that I am not part of the sprawling fandom devoted to the card, tabletop and digital Magic: The Gathering games. For those of you who are, you will be pleased to know that the upcoming Netflix adaptation of the games will be directed by devout fans – none other than Joe and Anthony Russo. Maybe their names aren’t familiar to you? They’ve directed a couple of films – Captain America: WinterSoldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame. Nothing too big.
Turns out the Russo Brothers aren’t just Marvel fans, though: apparently, they’ve been playing the game for “as long as it has been around” – in other words, since 1993. And since pretty much anything that the Russos touch turns to pure cinematic gold – and box-office gold, too – that’s enough to pique my interest in this show. The adaptation will be an animated series, and will be produced in collaboration with game-makers Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro. Never having played the game in question, I really can’t say for certain what I expect to see in the series (um, magic, I’m guessing?), but I bet it’s a pretty great game, if it comes from Wizards of the Coast – who also created one of my own personal favorite tabletop games, Axis & Allies.
If the idea of “animation” conjures up disturbing visions of two-dimensional cartoons, rest assured that the show will combine cutting-edge animation techniques with multi-genre storytelling including suspense, horror and drama. Sounds pretty good, right? The drawbacks, of course, are obvious: Magic: The Gathering is a game, and game adaptations aren’t exactly notable for being faithful to the source-material, or even very entertaining on their own merits. And this one is more convoluted and complex than most: there’s a huge cast of characters (sorry, “Planeswalkers”) involved in the Magic: The Gathering game franchise, and an inordinately large number of fantasy worlds and dimensions to bring to the screen. But if anybody can do this, it’s the Russo Brothers, who were able to satisfy both long-time Marvel comic fans as well as general audiences during their four-film tenure in the MCU – and, as previously noted, they’ve raked in a lot of cash with just those four films.
Avengers: Endgame is still in theaters if you want to get a taste of what a Magic: The Gathering adaptation might look like in the Russo Brothers’ hands.
Disney’s upcoming streaming platform/Netflix competitor Disney Plus is set to debut in November, with a whole bunch of old and original content: a Lady & The Tramp remake with music by Janelle Monáe, a Toy Story spinoff based on the adventures of Little Bo Peep, a Frozen 2 documentary, and a National Geographic show hosted by Jeff Goldblum (which actually sounds really interesting). Of course, a treasure-trove of original Marvel content is expected to premiere on Disney Plus as well, including three six-episode miniseries: starring Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Wanda Maximoff and Vision, and Loki – and quite inventively titled Falcon & The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, and Loki, respectively. These three shows will likely be joined by an as yet unconfirmed Hawkeye show.
While filming for WandaVision is set to begin in the fall, plot details about these shows have been scarce: aside from some “plot leaks” that may or may not be true. Today, however, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo revealed something about the Loki show that might give us a clearer idea of what to expect.
Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame ahead!
If you recall, when the Avengers went back in time to the Battle of New York in an attempt to capture the Mind, Space and Time Stones, they almost succeeded, but not quite. Captain America was able to wrest the Mind Stone from…Captain America, and Bruce Banner convinced the Ancient One to give up the Time Stone under the condition that the Stones would be returned to their proper timelines after the Avengers had used them – but Iron Man and Ant-Man had a lot more difficulty on their end.
Their mission was to intercept the past versions of Iron Man and Thor as the two Avengers victoriously escorted their prisoner Loki and the Space Stone into S.H.I.E.L.D custody – unfortunately for the present versions of Iron Man and Ant-Man, their attempt to send past Iron Man into cardiac arrest, causing a distraction, failed massively: the Incredible Hulk smashed into present Iron Man accidentally, sending Tony and the Space Stone flying across the room – and the Space Stone came to rest right at Loki’s feet. The trickster god being the trickster god, he wasted no time grabbing the Stone and teleporting himself away from his current predicament – and that is where his story in Avengers: Endgame ends, but apparently it’s just the beginning for Loki.
At the end of Endgame, Captain America is the hero who decides to go back in time once more in order to return all the Infinity Stones to their correct timelines: how he does this is not explained, but we know that Cap did his job and then decided to take some extra time off so he could spend an entire lifetime with Peggy Carter, the woman he loved in the 1940’s. This raises a whole bunch of timeline-questions and conundrums, but none of them are relevant to the topic of Loki.
According to the Russo Brothers, Peggy Carter wasn’t the only thing that distracted Cap from his mission: apparently he also felt it was his responsibility to track down the escaped Loki in that alternate timeline and follow him across the vast expanses of space – the timeline-questions and conundrums that this raises are most definitely relevant.
For instance, does this mean Loki and a younger version of Cap are still out there somewhere? We know from the Spider-man: Far From Home trailers that holes can open in between dimensions, allowing people from one reality to enter another: so could Loki and Cap abruptly appear out of nowhere in the present day MCU? If not, then what is the point of a Loki show if we know from the outset that Loki will be captured by Cap and all the things he does in the show will simply be undone? If alternate Loki shows up in the present timeline, would he still have the Space Stone? – it wouldn’t be surprising: the Space Stone, or Tesseract, has always been a key element in MCU movies, including Captain America: The First Avenger. Cap is no stranger to the Space Stone’s powers – maybe in order to track down Loki, he has to go back to his 1945 duel with the Red Skull, to take the Space Stone from him…but then where does Red Skull go, and what ramifications could that have for the events of Vormir, and the death of Black Widow? You see, time travel and reality-hopping are pretty complex ideas, and in a six-episode miniseries how much can you really do to explain them?
Does this also mean that the earlier rumors that Loki would depict the god traveling through time, influencing historical events, are untrue? As far as we know, the Space Stone does not have the ability to send the user through time. Which is kind of disappointing, because those rumors sounded awesome. Loki on the run from Captain America does sounds pretty intriguing, especially if it opens the door for Loki eventually returning to the MCU – considering how lame his Infinity War death was, for such a cunning character. It might give us a glimpse at planets and galaxies on the far side of the universe, and it just might explain once and for all why the Space Stone is so vitally important. The Russos did not say whether Tom Hiddleston and Chris Evans would reprise the roles of Loki and Captain America, but it seems likely at this point.