Marvel Offers 1st Look At Eternals And Upcoming Film Slate

What will it take to get moviegoers back into theaters? Hollywood has been asking themselves that question a lot recently: things were looking up for a moment with the success of Godzilla Vs Kong, but Mortal Kombat‘s limited mainstream appeal made it a poor successor to the Monsterverse epic. All eyes are turning towards Marvel’s Black Widow to make or break the box-office, and just this morning Marvel has released a teaser of their upcoming film slate that’s supposed to work as a little…incentive, to get people hyped up about their theatrical releases after a few months of Disney+ series’ (and streaming in general) dominating the conversation.

Marvel Eternals
The Eternals | comicbook.com

Granted, at least one of these movies will be available to purchase on Disney+ while it plays in theaters, and that happens to be Black Widow, so…we’ll see whether this ends up revitalizing the box-office like it’s supposed to, but either way this teaser gave me all the feels, and a first fleeting look at the upcoming film Eternals, my most-anticipated Marvel feature and the one best positioned to be a serious contender at next year’s Academy Awards race.

When I say fleeting, I’m not kidding – we only get a mere thirteen seconds to admire Oscar-winning director ChloĆ© Zhao’s stunning cinematography, and a range of what will presumably be outstanding performances from an all-star cast including Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, and Angelina Jolie. But thirteen seconds is all it takes to sell me on the film’s premise, and Zhao’s stunning vision for her first MCU project, one to which she has committed herself with the same clear passion as her critically-acclaimed A24 drama, Nomadland.

Spanning time and space, Eternals follows a group of celestial beings (not to be confused with the literal Celestials, who created the Eternals) who have roamed the earth since prehistoric times, subtly guiding the forward flow of human civilization. Thirteen seconds isn’t much, but it allows us to see the Eternals in their ancient guise as godlike superheroes defending the city of Babylon outside the famous Gate of Ishtar (once considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World)…before showing them in their modern forms, revisiting the site of the Mesopotamian city as archaeologists.

We see a little bit of how they’ve each adapted to life coexisting alongside the human race; with some of them, like Salma Hayek’s Ajak, distancing themselves from civilization (Hayek appears to be riding on horseback through what could be the American Southwest or even the Pampas of Argentina), while others, like Kumail Nanjiani’s Kingo, have become celebrities among the humans (I love that he’s brought his own personal camera crew along with him to meet the other Eternals). Angelina Jolie’s Thena is the only character we see fighting in the clip (and I could be wrong, but I think she’s only sparring with her fellow Eternal, Gilgamesh), but the choreography looks good and her golden sword is both beautiful and cool.

Marvel Eternals
Angelina Jolie as Thena | indiewire.com

Perhaps my biggest fear was that the Eternals’ costumes wouldn’t look great in live-action, since up until now all we’ve really seen of them is some concept art…which, with all due respect to the artist, wasn’t quite as visually striking as some fans had been hoping. But this clip lets us see a few of the suits in action (not all, though, and not the ones that looked worst in the concept art), and they seem practical, well-made, and simply gorgeous – with Jolie’s Thena making a particularly strong impression, dressed from head to toe in white with gold accents. Her regal, even haughty, stride indicates that she’s not going to allow any opponent to get a speck of dirt or blood on her pristine outfit – and I respect that power move.

While the rest of the teaser does feature some new footage from Black Widow and Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, the two major talking points besides the never-before-seen Eternals footage were both title reveals – Black Panther 2 officially receiving the emotional subtitle Wakanda Forever (that movie is gonna make me cry: I just know it), and Captain Marvel 2 rather unusually being retitled and rebranded entirely as The Marvels.

I’m a bit conflicted on how I feel about the latter title: firstly, because when I got the notification on my phone about this announcement, I honestly thought The Marvels was going to be an MCU sitcom. Of course, the title is supposed to reference the film’s holy trinity of heroines – Brie Larson as Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel, Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau (who also goes by Captain Marvel in the comics), and Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel – but it’s a bit too much of a cheeky pun on the company’s name, and slightly undermines what I feel should be more of an epic and awe-inspiring moment. Some fans are upset that the Captain Marvel solo franchise is now dropping Captain Marvel’s name, and I get that – though I also understand and appreciate that the new title celebrates more inclusivity, and puts the three women on equal status, rather than elevating Carol above her costars.

The teaser is very focused on release dates, some of which we already knew, some of which are a bit of a surprise. Black Widow and Eternals are both set in stone and unlikely to shift around on the calendar – the former is comfortably anchored by a Disney+ simultaneous release, and the latter is being positioned for awards season. Shang-Chi will still release in September, between the two films, while Spider-Man: No Way Home will close out the year on a bang, by all accounts setting up a Multiverse saga that will escalate in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, arriving March 25th, 2022. Thor: Love And Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be the big summer event-movies of that year, and The Marvels will premiere on November 11th.

Captain Marvel 2
The Marvels | marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com

So far, only Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania and Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 are confirmed for 2023 (the former in February, the latter in May) but Mahershala Ali’s Blade will likely end up there too, along with Fantastic Four – the electric-blue logo for which pops up again in the final moments of this teaser, as if to remind us that we never know the full extent of Marvel’s plans for the future. Remember, these are just the upcoming movies.

But how do you feel about the studio’s slate of films, and which is your most anticipated? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

“Save Daredevil” Worked! The Hero May Return In “Spider-Man 3”!

When Netflix’s Daredevil was cancelled after four seasons in 2018, fans of the series – which had been developed in partnership with Marvel Studios and was, theoretically, MCU-adjacent – were rightfully angry, especially since an added complication in the breakup between Marvel and Netflix was that Marvel had to wait a full two years before being able to use any of the characters they had previously handed to Netflix: characters like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and a bunch of other street-level superheroes and villains. Well, now that the two years is finally up, the rights have reverted back to Marvel at long last: and a new scoop from Murphy’s Multiverse indicates that the studio is going to do what fans have been hoping and praying they would, which is to bring back the version of Daredevil that Charlie Cox made so popular and beloved over on Netflix. Not only that, but he’ll be arriving in the MCU soon – jumping into Spider-Man 3, which is already busy filming.

Daredevil
Daredevil | looper.com

Whereas many of the Netflix Marvel shows and characters were just okay adaptations (and some were downright mediocre), Daredevil was actually very successful, and probably the most comic-accurate of the entire bunch. Cox is a great actor, and Marvel president Kevin Feige has been said in the past to be a big fan of him and his work. So it makes sense why Daredevil would end up joining the already massive cast of Spider-Man 3 – which, as we discussed yesterday, is set to bring back several other major characters from past Marvel franchises, including Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire’s versions of Peter Parker. But it’s also huge news, if true, because it means that Kevin Feige could pick and choose some other MCU-adjacent actors (or actresses) to make the jump into the MCU proper. If you know me, you know where this is going…

Yes, my end-goal is still the same: I want Quake (brilliantly portrayed by Chloe Bennet across seven seasons of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.) to finally make her own MCU debut in the near future, and there’s an entire fandom that thinks the same way. Just as Daredevil fans have been told for years that their favorite show was never going to be inducted into the official MCU canon because of its cancellation and the messy rights situation, so have Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans been told the same thing. And I understand why a lot of people think this: Marvel Studios and Marvel TV didn’t have a great relationship, and the Marvel TV shows drifted pretty far from MCU canon as time went by. But things have changed with the rise of passionate, determined fan-movements (which got #SaveDaredevil trending last month), and the introduction of the Multiverse: a risky but wonderful narrative tool that has the power to make literally anything possible.

Daredevil
Quake | gamesradar.com

Although we don’t know if Charlie Cox’s Daredevil will hail from a parallel universe when he appears in Spider-Man 3, it’s certainly an intriguing coincidence that he’ll be showing up in a movie that already features so much Multiverse mayhem. The Multiverse (a vast network of infinite alternate realities) enables his entire series to exist just outside of MCU canon, but easily accessible if need be – with the potential for any number of characters to cross over from one to the other, no problems. Daredevil, obviously; but also Kingpin, his arch-nemesis, as whom Vincent D’Onofrio has been eager to return. Same thing with Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., where Quake and Yo-Yo Rodriguez are among the handful of characters I would select to make a comeback. Either that, or these MCU-adjacent TV shows could just be canon pure and simple, which works for me too. But if Marvel wants an excuse for how and why they’re doing it now, instead of years ago when these shows were actually still running; they have the means to do so organically. That’s what I’m saying.

Daredevil
She-Hulk and Daredevil | cbr.com

As for Daredevil in the MCU, we don’t know what the plans for him are beyond his appearance in Spider-Man 3. YouTuber Grace Randolph has added that she believes Daredevil (or rather, his alter ego Matt Murdock) will be acting as Peter Parker’s lawyer. Last time we saw Parker, his secret identity had just been revealed to the world, and he was being accused of murdering scientist Quentin Beck. He’s presumed to now be on the run from authorities and a host of supervillains, so a strong legal defense is probably a good idea. But if that rumor is true, it does means that She-Hulk (another lawyer whose business usually involves representing superheroes in court, and who will star in a Disney+ series), won’t be the first of her kind in the MCU. That being said, it could be interesting if She-Hulk and Daredevil are rival lawyers, and go toe-to-toe in court (something that Randolph notes is a possibility, as she believes Cox is also in talks to join the She-Hulk series).

So what do you think? How excited are you for Charlie Cox’s return, and what do you think this means for other MCU-adjacent characters? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

“Spider-Man 3” Recruits Andrew Garfield For Epic Crossover!

The third (and as yet untitled) installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Spider-Man series is shaping up to be truly epic, combining elements from several past iterations of the character’s long onscreen history in what is sure to be a massive Multiverse extravaganza. Tobey Maguire’s 2002-2007 trilogy, Andrew Garfield’s 2012-2014 duology, and Tom Holland’s MCU series will finally collide in Holland’s third solo film, with major actors from all three franchises reprising their iconic roles and interacting for the first time ever. And yes, that includes the three Peter Parkers themselves. Garfield has just been confirmed today to be joining Holland in the upcoming Spider-Man 3, alongside two crucial members of the Maguire Spider-Man franchise – Kirsten Dunst and Alfred Molina – while Maguire himself is rumored to still be in talks, but is close to finalizing his own deal.

Spider-Man 3
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker | independent.co.uk

We’ve been hearing for a while now that this plan was in the cards all along, so the news isn’t too surprising – it’s just extremely relieving and exciting that it’s actually on the verge of happening. The first hint that it could be a possibility was the casting of Jamie Foxx back in October. Foxx, who played Electro in Andrew Garfield’s second Spider-Man movie, was confirmed to be returning as the electric supervillain rather than an entirely new character, although one would hope he’s getting a brand new look out of this, because his previous appearance was…not great. Soon after, it was rumored that Alfred Molina (Doctor Octopus in the original 2002 Spider-Man movie) had joined the cast. Those rumors have now been confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter. And that would have been big enough news to spark a lively bit of fandom discourse, but then Collider joined in the fun and gave us far more to talk about.

Collider’s article casually tosses out the bombshell that Andrew Garfield will return as the version of Peter Parker he played in his short-lived series, which came to an abrupt end after Garfield fell out of favor with Sony. In that very same sentence, and with no further elaboration, they also confirmed that Tobey Maguire is currently in talks to return as his version of Peter Parker, but that he hasn’t closed his deal just yet. And in the next sentence after that, they revealed that Kirsten Dunst, who played Mary Jane opposite Maguire’s Peter Parker, will also be coming back: and she will probably be joined by Emma Stone, Gwen Stacy in the Garfield movies. Stone isn’t a lock just yet, due to her pregnancy, but the fact that she just dropped out of a lead role in Damien Chazelle’s Babylon because of a scheduling conflict indicates that she might be returning to the Marvel Universe. Stone returning is interesting, given that Gwen Stacy…um, died.

Spider-Man 3
Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker | looper.com

All of this is very thrilling and happening very quickly, but we have to slow down and talk about why this is happening now. Because of another confirmed casting for Spider-Man 3, that of Benedict Cumberbatch reprising his role as the MCU’s Doctor Strange, we can reasonably surmise that all these alternate versions of characters are showing up in Tom Holland’s universe because of something (or someone) tampering with the Multiverse – Strange’s field of expertise. If I had to guess, I’d say that someone is probably Wanda Maximoff, who will be toying with parallel universes in her upcoming Disney+ series, WandaVision, before supposedly having a major role in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. Spider-Man 3, sandwiched neatly between the two, will likely deal with the fallout from Wanda’s disastrous attempts to reconstruct reality, and Doctor Strange will be forced to help the young hero battle villains from other dimensions. Meanwhile, the three Peter Parkers will have to team up to save humanity, and we’ll see what Maguire and Garfield’s Parkers have been up to since their franchises ended. It’s extremely meta, and I love the whole concept already.

Spider-Man 3
Alfred Molina as Doc Ock | thecinemaspot.com

As for anything in particular I’d love to see, well…I do hope that Andrew Garfield finally gets his wish and plays his version of Peter Parker as a bisexual man. Bisexual representation is sorely lacking in mainstream media, and so far the MCU hasn’t done a great job of depicting its own bisexual heroes and heroines: a scene confirming Vallkyrie is attracted to women was cut from Thor: Ragnarok, and a scene in which Okoye flirted with a woman was cut from Black Panther.

So what do you think? With Garfield, Molina, Foxx, and Dunst officially returning (and Maguire and Stone likely to follow suit, if all goes well), what are you hoping to see in Spider-Man 3? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

How “Onward” Borrows From “Lord Of The Rings” – In The Best Way!

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR ONWARD…AND THE LETTER FOR THE KING…AHEAD

Onward was never really on my radar – when the trailers came out, I thought they were weak, and I never even got to see the film in theaters due to the coronavirus. But now that I have seen it, I can’t stop thinking about this strangely endearing story, which so many other critics have said is merely okay: an enjoyable, but easily forgettable, offering from a studio that has produced instant classics. That may be true for some, but I’m not ashamed to say that Onward is quickly becoming one of my favorite Pixar films.

Onward
techcrunch.com

I’m thankfully not alone in this opinion. But my opinion on the film has grown stronger and stronger with each passing day (and rewatch). And I have a few theories on why this film speaks so much to me, and why I think it has already become one of Pixar’s most underrated offerings: a story that deserves to be exalted, and is instead being bullied for its simplicity, so-so worldbuilding, and subversion of tropes – which has itself become something of a trope, though I maintain that Onward does it in the best way possible, and that’s because it borrows the inspiration (just the inspiration, mind you, everything else about it is different) for its most crucial subversive element from The Lord Of The Rings.

Now, Onward borrows a lot of stuff from J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece, it’s true. There are little details hidden all over the richly-detailed fantasy world, and, unsurprisingly, many of them harp back to the man who is described as the father of modern fantasy. Fast-food restaurants serving second breakfast, soft drinks named Mountain Doom (with “explosive caffeine!”), an image of what I believe to be Gandalf versus The Balrog in the back of Barley’s van…basically, all the usual stuff that would make me slightly biased in this film’s favor. But no, I don’t love it solely because of that. Nor do I love it solely because everyone in the film is an LGBTQ+ icon (though, if you’re interested, feel free to check out my non-existent TED talk about how Laurel and The Manticore are absolutely canon, the pawn shop owner radiates big boss lesbian energy, and Barley is a chaotic gay cinnamon roll). Sure, those things contribute to the film’s overall appeal – but what I love most about it is how it finally clarifies that Samwise Gamgee was the true hero of The Lord Of The Rings.

Lord Of The Rings Samwise
lotr.fandom.com

If you don’t already know, let me explain: in the Tolkien fandom, there has always been a war between “stans” of Frodo, and “stans” of Samwise Gamgee – a “stan” being a person who devotes themselves, wholly and unconditionally, to one specific person, fictional character, or thing. I’m not a big fan of stanning anyone or anything, simply because stans often become so passionate about whatever they’re stanning that they refuse to see its faults, and instead become toxic and hyper-aggressive when they see a threat to their idol. In the case of The Lord Of The Rings, it’s either really sad or really unsurprising that a story about unconditional love and loyalty would attract so many stans – who often divide themselves into either Frodo stans or Samwise stans. However, all you toxic Samwise stans are off the hook today, because I’m not coming for you – I’m coming for the toxic Frodo stans, and their idea of what makes a true hero.

J.R.R. Tolkien described Samwise Gamgee as the true hero of his story. Needless to say, Frodo stans have never liked this tidbit of trivia, and typically disregard it, either choosing to scream “DEATH OF THE AUTHOR!,” as loudly as possible, or snobbily remarking that “well, Tolkien didn’t write it that way”. Well, actually, he did – though, admittedly, everyone has differing opinions, and I respect that. But Onward uses the same formula for its hero and protagonist and makes it even less disputable.

Onward Barley Lightfoot
variety.com

In my opinion, what Frodo stans often overlook is that a story’s hero isn’t always its protagonist, nor vice versa. It’s rare to find, indeed, though I can actually name at least one other story this year that has done it…in a way. I say “in a way” because, while Netflix’s The Letter For The King turns the tables on its main character and reveals that one of his supporting cast, a young woman, is actually the hero of prophecy, and destined to defeat the villain, she never actually becomes the hero of the story. She’s a central plot-point, but that’s all she is: she’s just there to fight the big bad. In trying to create a surprise hero reveal, Netflix accidentally made their surprise hero the surprise protagonist of the series, while the character who was both hero and protagonist up until that point became solely the hero.

Because here’s the thing, which I’ve found is true across several different mediums: a hero doesn’t have to be the character whose name is in the title, or who gets to fight all the big sword-battles, or wield all the cool magic powers. From my experience, a story’s hero is often the overlooked beating heart of the story, the character around whom the entire story revolves without us ever noticing, usually until the very end. Sam, for instance, is the hero of The Lord Of The Rings – he represents everything the good guys are fighting for, and, without him, the story falls apart: not only because without him Frodo would have died several times before ever reaching Mordor, but because without him, The Lord Of The Rings isn’t the story of unconditional love, unbreakable friendship and unquenchable hope that we know it to be. Without him, in fact, it’s a pretty dark tale. So Sam is the true hero of that story because he is its core, the rock upon which the story is built, and Frodo is the protagonist: the character at the center of the plot – and he’s important too, because he teaches us about the importance of mercy and forgiveness, and how power corrupts. But when Frodo lies, maimed and spiritually exhausted on the slopes of Mount Doom, who is there beside him at the end of all things? Sam, that’s who. And it’s Sam’s presence there that reminds us what the story is all about: hope enduring even in darkness, and love defeating evil. For me, this is what defines a hero versus a protagonist, and shows how both can exist in one story without necessarily being the same person – a story’s true hero is the character who best personifies the themes and moral of the story, if there is one, while the protagonist is the most important character in the plot.

Onward Ian Lightfoot
decider.com

And that brings us back to Onward, and the case of Barley and Ian. For most of the film’s duration, it seems clear who is both hero and protagonist: Ian Lightfoot. He’s our POV character the entire time; he’s the one who initiates the quest when he finds out he’s the only character who can use magic; he’s the character who fights all the big fights, overcomes all the hardest obstacles, and has the big third-act battle against the fire-breathing dragon. But that doesn’t make him the hero – as it turns out, Ian is the protagonist, while his overlooked and underestimated older brother Barley Lightfoot is the story’s true hero.

It might sound unthinkable. But Onward isn’t just the story of two boys trying to meet their father – it’s a celebration of parents and parental figures in general. That’s why the father is the elusive end-goal of the movie’s plot. That’s why Laurel, the boys’ mother, follows them on their quest and has a key role in the final battle. That’s why there’s a subplot with the boys’ stepfather, whom they initially dislike but learn to accept. That’s why the big revelation at the end of the movie is that Barley Lightfoot has always been Ian’s own father figure growing up, and that Ian always did know his father, through Barley. And that’s why, in a moving act of gratitude, Ian returns the favor by giving Barley, and Barley alone, the chance to reunite with the ghost of their father in the film’s epic conclusion. That’s not entirely by choice – there’s a large dragon headed their way, and one of them has to stop it before it kills them all – but that makes it more powerful: because by that point, Ian’s character arc has concluded. He’s already figured out what and who the story is all about. But Barley still hasn’t: in a noble act of self-sacrifice, he offers to go hold off the dragon and give Ian the chance to meet their dad. But Ian stops him, telling him that now, Barley deserves what Ian always had: a chance to share his life, even for a moment, with his own father figure. Suddenly, Barley Lightfoot is the true heart, soul and hero of the story, and he best represents what the film is all about.

Now, a celebration of unconventional parental figures and older siblings isn’t anything new – the Frozen series and Lilo & Stitch are two other animated movies that give older siblings all the respect they deserve, and in fact Barley Lightfoot shares a couple characteristics with Elsa in particular (make them both gay, you cowards!) – but Pixar’s spin on the material gives it a truly unique twist. And in so doing, whether intentionally or not, they have paid homage to the father of modern fantasy.

Onward
loudwire.com

And there you have it. At this point I’ve likely angered a fair number of Frodo stans (but don’t worry, I still love all most some a few of you), and I’ve rambled on for far too long. Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Oh, and one last thing. My initial rating for Onward was too low, so allow me to do something I almost never do, and revise it:

Rating: 9.5/10