Not The Fox News: The Good News In The Bad News

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Markus Schreiber/AP/REX/Shutterstock (6975532f)
SJ Clarkson Director SJ Clarkson attends a photo-call for the movie Toast at the International Film Festival Berlinale in Berlin on
Germany Berlinale, Berlin, Germany

SJ Clarkson is about to have a very good year. You don’t know their name, odds are but believe me you’ll have seen some of Clarkson’s work. She’s directed for everything from Life on Mars to The Defenders and is one of the never ending stream of excellent female directors who drive the US TV drama industry along. Clarkson’s work, most notably on the first two episodes of Jessica Jones, is known for being clean, character-centric and elegant. She’s excellent and when it was announced last year she’d be helming Star Trek 4 it was a pleasure to see her get the slot, and to see the franchise’s directorial blinkers finally be lifted It was also confidently announced that Chris Hemsworth would be returning as Kirk’s dad. Most people instantly assumed it was time for the Mirror universe but I figured time travel and some sort of Quantum Leap situation.

Regardless it’s a moot point now as Pine and Hemsworth were caught up in a contract dispute with the studio that ended with them leaving the table. Now, Clarkson has left the project to direct the pilot of the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel and serve as executive producer for the series. Star Trek 4 appears to have been indefinitely shelved as a result.

And that’s brilliant news, for basically everyone, here’s why.

Clarkson first off. I wasn’t kidding about the legions of female directors keeping US TV afloat, there are dozens of them and they’re all brilliant and underappreciated and underpaid. Sandra Oh’s gag at the Golden Globes this year about ‘FIRST MAN!’ being the default choice for directors and a movie about Neil Armstrong is funny, and sad, because its true. So any time someone makes it over the fence, as Clarkson has done here, I’m delighted. GoT: 90210  or whatever the Hell it’s going to be called is the definition of a prestige gig and there must be a ton of confidence in her for her to be put in place. Deservedly so too.

Then there’s Game of Thrones itself. The world’s angriest Ren Fair is the largest TV show on the planet by a considerable margin and, now it has finally overtaken the books, has been having visibly more fun season by season. However, it’s also got a justifiably shitty reputation for how it deals with female staff. And characters for that matter. This is a great breakdown of the show’s massive fondness for ladymurder season by season but weirdly the horrific statistic isn’t the big number, it’s the small one. In the entirety of its run the show has had 3 women on the writing and directing staff.

3.

In 73 episodes.

With none either writing or directing for the final season.

On its own, that’s a hilariously shitty metric. Placed against the show’s cheerful willingness to use rape the way some people use punctuation marks, it’s disgusting. The largest show on Earth has employed three whole entire women in its biggest roles. That’s an unforgivable failure, if absolutely nothing else, of leading by example. But it does give you a starting position to row back from and, seven YEARS LATE, that’s exactly what the production office is starting to do by hiring Clarkson.

(As an aside, Mo Ryan should be your go to for this sort of thing on Twitter. One of the best entertainment journalists on the planet.)

But what of Star Trek? Well, it’s good news for that too.

The Kelvinverse movies get a lot of hate and the vast majority of it is undeserved. The original Star Trek is great, everything in Into Darkness that isn’t Khan being whitewashed is fun and Beyond is a legitimate love letter to the franchise. In fact, Beyond is a perfect capstone for these movies for all sorts of reasons. Also THIS IS STILL THE BEST THING. It gives Kirk the test he’s always needed and ties the present of this universe to the past it shares with the core timeline. It also sets up an ending that’s elegant, could absolutely stand a sequel or two but is in no way incomplete without them. And can stand toe to toe with the ending of The Undiscovered Country and The Voyage Home, where they get the 1701-A and the music swells and I become a human avatar of ugly crying.

But most importantly, bringing the Kelvinverse into land here salutes the cast members who are no longer with us. Don’t get me wrong, part of me would love to see a fourth movie with Jaylah sitting next to Sulu. But the rest of me is quite happy with that role being filled by Anton Yelchin’s instantly likable take on Chekov, off-screen and quietly, enthusiastically immortal.

Besides, Trek’s far more at home on bookshelves and the small screen now.  The astonishing work consistently being done by novelists like James Swallow and Doctor Una McCorrmack has continued to expand the core timeline. Meanwhile, the launch of Discovery last year, the imminent second season as well as the new Picard show and recently announced pair of animated series all speak to a new found dedication to Trek on TV.

Tellingly, the existence of The Orville does the same thing.  While the show is still very Seth MacFarlane’s bad days on its bad days, the rest of it is a fascinating look at established Trek tropes through new lenses. It is to Star Trek what Scrubs is to ER, a profoundly affectionate and respectful riff playing all the right notes, just in a different order. That’s why the the people who cite it as the ‘true Star Trek’ because it doesn’t let politics get in the way mystify me so much. Not just because they’ve presumably never seen Star Trek before but perhapsnot The Orville either. Social issues are at the core of both of them. It’s just sometimes on The Orville, there’s a punchline as well. Regardless, it’s existence and success speaks to the strength of Star Trek as a small screen concept, whether it’s branded as Star Trek or not.

So like I say, this is one of those rare occasions where a project falling through is good news. Clarkson has a great new job, Game of Thrones gets to take the NO GURLS ALOUD notice off the front door of the production office and the Kelvinverse gets the ending it deserves. Plus Trek as a concept gets to grow in new ways. Seek out new life and new civilizations. Perhaps even, boldly go?

Seriously though this is great news all round. Congratulations everyone. Now, who’s working on that Chief Miles O’Brien show? Take your time, I’ll wait. And turn up the beats and the shouting, yeah?

 

When Alasdair Stuart is not hosting PseudoPod and Escape Pod, or running Escape Artists Inc., he’s professionally enthusiastic about genre fiction on the Internet at places like Tor.com, Barnes & Noble, The Guardian, Uncanny Magazine, SciFi Now and MyMBuzz. He’s an ENie-nominated tabletop RPG writer for his work on Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space. His other RPG writing includes Star Trek, The Laundry Files, Primeval, Victoriana, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, N.E.W. and Chill, meaning he’s got a playbook for any variety of invasion you can name.  He also makes ketchup sometimes and can bake the HELL out of focaccia. Read about his ongoing culinary adventures, as well as a whole lot of pop culture enthusiasm in his weekly newsletter, The Full Lid, published every Friday around 5pm.

He lives in the UK with the love of his life and their ever expanding herd of microphones. Follow him on Twitter as @AlasdairStuart, or at his blog, The Man of Words.

Not The Fox News: Turn The Page, Do The Thing

Good news everyone! I’m reliably informed by people in other time zones that 2018 does in fact end! Seriously, folks, the 1st of January 2019 has been confirmed as happening in several other places. It’s okay. It’s okay. This miserable hellscape of a year is about to be gone and the slate is wiped clean, the clock reset to zero.

I want to talk about that and why sometimes it can be frightening.

Like Ford once said, time is an illusion, lunch time doubly so. The end of a year is an entirely arbitrary temporal hinge, a left turn in our passage through linear time that it’s super easy to put a whole lot of unneeded pressure on. It’s why most fitness related new year’s resolutions don’t work, because when it comes down to it it’s only the top of the year for a little bit of time. 2019 only has that New Time smell for so long.

That can put extraordinary pressure on you, and by you, I mean us. But the thing I’m realizing this year is that pressure can be exerted two different ways. If you had a great 2018 part of you may be terrified that 2019 will be worse. If you had a terrible 2018 part of you will be terrified that 2019 will be worse. The House always wins. And the House is a Bastard.

We put ourselves under strain at this time of year even before you take into account the radical life reboots that are already rippling around the globe. Going from late nights back to early mornings if you’ve had time off, the sudden gaping hole in your day where the Quality Street used to be, the total absence of any version of A Christmas Carol. It’s always a little frightening to deal with, you always find yourself shrugging the coat of responsibility back on and wondering if it always had the mittens tied to the cuffs.

(it did. And they look awesome.)

And then you decide to run three times a week, finish a novel, write a novella and plan something else.

Here’s the thing. Do that. But add something else in too.

Downtime.

My partner and I have, between us, somewhere in the region of four jobs. She’s a lawyer, we run the podcasting company together, I’m an RPG designer and journalist, she’s an editor. We fight crime. And it really is, I am a blessed man who will go to his grave astounded at what his life is in the very best of ways.

But the one thing we absolutely stink at is downtime. And today we did something about that. Two nights off a week, one full day of weekend when we aren’t working. I promise you we will break those restrictions but I also promise we won’t do it every time. Because you need downtime and if you don’t take it, your body will take it for you. And I say this at the tail end of my second cold in three weeks, so believe me, I know whereof I hack up phlegm.

The New Year attracts us because it’s a new start. The New Year frightens us because it’s a blank page and the responsibility of what to put on there can bend you in two. Don’t let it. Or at least don’t let it for long. This is a new start. It’s one that’s unique to you and owned by everyone. It’s one arriving at the end of two of the darkest years in recent memory and with more, odds are, on the way. But that isn’t going to stop you and it’s not going to stop me either.

Write the words. Do the thing. Show it to others. Share your joy. Like the lady said, let’s get a shift on. Tomorrow is a new start and tomorrow’s on the way. I’ll see you in there.

 

When Alasdair Stuart is not hosting PseudoPod and Escape Pod, or running Escape Artists Inc., he’s professionally enthusiastic about genre fiction on the Internet at places like Tor.com, Barnes & Noble, The Guardian, Uncanny Magazine, SciFi Now and MyMBuzz. He’s an ENie-nominated tabletop RPG writer for his work on Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space. His other RPG writing includes Star Trek, The Laundry Files, Primeval, Victoriana, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, N.E.W. and Chill, meaning he’s got a playbook for any variety of invasion you can name.  He also makes ketchup sometimes and can bake the HELL out of focaccia. Read about his ongoing culinary adventures, as well as a whole lot of pop culture enthusiasm in his weekly newsletter, The Full Lid, published every Friday around 5pm.

He lives in the UK with the love of his life and their ever expanding herd of microphones. Follow him on Twitter as @AlasdairStuart, or at his blog, The Man of Words.

Not The Fox News: The Doctor Is In

Like my friend Saxon says, always start with a song.

John Lydon there, a few years out from being Johnny Rotten and a few years before splitting his time being a mouthpiece for Big Dairy and deciding Brexit was punk rock. It’s one of his best pieces of non Sex Pistols work, all righteous late ’80s piss and vinegar. Compelling argument too, because anger is an energy,  he’s right. If you ever want to gorilla up and over a problem, all you really have to do is get good and mad at it. ‘DRIVE OVER!’ As my tiny Welsh Rugby coach used to say, encouraging 500 pounds of adolescent scrum to do their best impression of a tank.

Hello Mr McGregor, by the way, if you’re reading.

Anger tends to power Difficult Men in fiction too. House? Pissed. Sherlock Holmes? Bloody furious. The Doctor? Often mad as Hell and not going to take it anymore. Peter Capaldi’s epochal run as the 12th Doctor was driven, at least in its first year, by the Doctor’s barely contained rage at everything he knew, could sense and that was not happening fast enough. That rich vein of tetchy has run through most of the previous incarnations too, always appearing in different ways. 11’s baby-faced old man persona, 6’s fundamental inability to not shout, 4’s occasional mercurial explosions of rage. 9’s tormented, embittered survivor’s guilt that often threatened to tear him and anyone near him in half as he grinned as widely as he could to keep from screaming. It’s why ‘Just this once, EVERYBODY LIVES!’ Still makes you cry a full decade and a bit after transmission. It’s the feral desperate joy of a man who wants to save everyone who, just once, can. But the thing none of these Difficult Men, or to use the correct trope, Insufferable Geniuses know is that Anger is An energy, not the only energy. And based on her first appearances, the 13th Doctor has found and is building herself around something else; kindness.

To deal with the obvious comment head on, I don’t think this has anything to do with her gender.
Anger isn’t something dependent on gender and never has been. Rather, I think 13’s approach to
kindness uses the decades of Insufferable Genius that preceded her as a foundation and the environment she’s dropped into as building material to create something as new as it is necessary.

Peter Capaldi’s 12 is, at the very least, my second favorite Doctor of all time so I’m not bagging on him in the slightest. But, especially in that first year, 12 was defined by his rage. ‘Am I a good man?’ Remained the driving question throughout his run and resurfaced when he flat out refused to regenerate at the end of his time. Anger at the world, at the injustice he’d seen, at the fact there were still Things To Do drove the gloriously disreputable old punk right up until his final moments when he was finally allowed not only peace but to realize that someone other than him was allowed to shoulder some of the burden. I was basically a wreck for the entire back 20 minutes of Twice Upon A Time (The Lethbridge-Stewart reveal? Not enough tissues in the world) but those final moments, 12’s curtain call, were what really got me. Especially what seemed to be a good part of the mission statement for 13:

‘Laugh hard. Run fast. Be Kind.’

It’s a moment made all the more powerful in retrospect. 12, finally at peace with himself and his
end, taking his final bow and throwing a typically dignified plea out into the world as he goes. One his successor picks up in her first three seconds of life, laughing at the sheer joy of having arrived, of having so much to do and so much time to do it. The torch being passed not reluctantly but with trust. The torch being picked up not out of obligation but choice.

And 13 is unfailingly, disarmingly kind. She’s instinctively the Doctor from the first second we see
her. Talking fast, solving a problem, collecting information. She knows who she is before she can
remember who she is. She’s also painfully aware of the toll events take on the people around her
in a way almost no Doctor has ever been before. The Tenth Doctor’s retrain of ‘I’m sorry, I’m so
sorry’ was, at times, performative. Another excuse to rails against the universe so vast
and malicious that even the Lonely God couldn’t save everyone.

13 has no such front. Or indeed, any at all. She apologizes when things go wrong, compliments her friends (And they’re her friends now, not her companions. That’s important too) for dealing with their situation and is engaged with everyone, not just everything. 13 builds the suit of herself from her environment. Her accent, her friends, her Sonic Screwdriver, her costume. All of it comes not from some conveniently hand waved alien box but from a northern town on a crappy night. I actually applauded at her costume coming from a charity shop because its such a perfect choice. A Doctor with no time, or resources, for the sartorial fripperies of her predecessors, rolling her sleeves up (Literally!) and getting it done. Brilliant. A Sonic Screwdriver made out of Sheffield steel and stolen bits of a Hershey’s Kiss from space. Even more brilliant. The iconic superhero elements of the Doctor stripped away to reveal the same person they’ve always been; never cruel or cowardly. Here to help. Hates empty pockets.

And behind all of it, kindness. Whitaker has the exact steel the Doctor requires and facing down
Tim Shaw the tooth-faced pound shop Predator (And I mean that as a compliment) on a tower
crane is a Hell of a first ‘I’m the DOCTOR’ moment. But where she lives and breathes in the role is
in her compassion. The offhand reference to how ‘everyone is capable of the most incredible
change’. The fact that she quietly positions Ryan, whose fault this indirectly is, so that he can be
the one to bring the situation to an end. The fact too that she watches him try and ride his bike and doesn’t intervene. This incarnation of the Doctor is kind but not smothering, compassionate but respectful. She’s here to help, she isn’t here to do it for us and that’s a distinction the show has rarely, if ever attempted before.

It’s also one that implies a welcome fallibility. The Doctor’s decision to leave her friends to heal is
one again borne of kindness. But fate, as we see in the final moments of this episode, has other
plans for 13 and her odd, fractious survivor’s club. Yazmin, so determined to prove herself. Ryan,
refusing to break under the pressure of his dyspraxia and working to not be defined by it. Graham, united with Ryan in grief if not love. Survivors all, none of them happy about it and all of them about to take their first steps into a world that will show them just how much bigger they all are on the inside. And do so not as a punishment, but as a kindness.

Anger is an energy. Right now it’s a mandatory one. I’m writing this on the morning an IPCC report is published, that will almost certainly be ignored, which says we have 12 years to correct or curb climate change before it begins having disastrous, Roland Emmerich-ian effects. I’m writing this in a country which in six months will merrily walk off an economic and cultural cliff because rich white sociopaths turned the very people they exploit the most into a weapon that will harm us all. I’m writing this on the other side of the Atlantic from a country I love whose President’s behavior degrades by the hour, which has just railroaded a probable sexual predator onto the highest court in the land and which looks dead set on rolling the clock back to the 1950s in every single one of the worst ways. Anger is an energy, a mandatory one.

But not the only one.

If anger is a weapon then kindness is a tool and Doctor Who has returned to place that tool in everyone’s hands where it fits so well we almost forgot we could wield it. Laugh hard. Run fast. Be kind. Make your own future and bring people along with you when you go. That’s what this Doctor would do. Now, let’s get a shift on.

Not The Fox News: There Is Hope

I’ve been thinking a lot about hope recently. Not just the abstract concept, although it is one of my personal favorites along with ‘biscuits’ and ‘Every Brooklyn Nine-Nine cold open ever’. But rather the fact it’s often overlooked in genre fiction and how powerful it can be when it’s there.

My earliest exposure to serial fiction, and hope in science fiction, was the Sector General series by James White. These were a series of novels, novellas and short stories set aboard the Sector
General station, a neutral medical facility designed to cater for aliens of any biology and scale. The problems, the antagonists, were more often the challenge of getting the patient diagnosed or sedated than anything action related (Although there was occasional punching) and the end result was a series of stories that presented as fundamentally benevolent puzzles. One particularly great instalment involved the logistics of operating on an alien the size of a continent.

I took two things away from the Sector General books. The first was a reaffirmation of my profound respect for every stripe of emergency responder and customer facing profession. My dad was a teacher. My mom was a nurse. I have friends and family in emergency response, the Armed Services and political journalism. All of them put themselves between society and harm for a living. All of them, to misquote A Few Good Men, stand on the wall and tell us nothing bad’s going to happen while they’re there. Or at the very least, nothing else bad.

The second was a fondness for stories that were based around that very concept; hope. It’s intoxicating, especially these days, to look at fiction that has at it’s core a belief in the fundamental goodness of people. And the brilliant, tragic thing about that is that ‘these days’ could apply to any period in the stretch of history that humanity has told stories to itself. The world is always ending but never quite does. And there’s always hope.

There’s no more intellectual demonstration of this than Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Sir Patrick
Stewart’s iconic role in Star Trek: The Next Generation remains the star around which decades of
TV, movies, comics and novels orbit. Picard was, and still is, the anti-Kirk. Intellectual where his
predecessor was instinctive, compassionate where his predecessor was impulsive. A warrior when needed. A diplomat by choice. Plus he could throw Shakespearean truth bombs like no one else.

The thing I always particularly loved about Picard was that he was a team player. The best leaders are the ones who listen, and so much of TNG was about just that; a problem being worked by a room full of brilliant people, some of whom were human, all of whom were fallible. There’s one particular episode where everything has gone VERY pear shaped and Picard’s first response is to stand, pull his jacket down (obvs) and address the bridge in that stentorian, France by way of Sheffield voice:

‘SUGGESTIONS’

An instinctive leader, in a tight situation, trusting his people to know things, and see things, that he doesn’t. I think about that a lot, both as a man and as the co-owner of a company.
And now, Captain (later, Admiral and if I remember correctly, Ambassador) Picard is making a
return. Stewart has confirmed that a mini-series focusing on him is in the works. That’s amazing
news, not just because Stewart is a titan but because Picard is the exact sort of lead that 2018
popular culture desperately needs. Intelligent, measured, calm. Doesn’t own a twitter account.
Yes, this could be a Logan situation where we watch Stewart do ‘Samuel Beckett! In! Spaaaaaace!’
But even if that’s the case the character is still fundamentally hopeful, still concerned in his entirety with the best of people. Still someone with intelligence in one hand and compassion in the other, wielding both not as weapons but as tools. Still an icon of hope.

Which brings us to Ant-Man and the Wasp. The sequel to one of the better versions of White Man
Begins that Marvel had us slog through over the last few years is just ridiculously charming from
the get go. Everything that didn’t work last time has been dialled down, everything that did work
has been dialled up and it feels like the Ant-Man movies have now joined the Captain America and Guardians movies as having a distinctive style all their own.

And, fundamentally, the best thing about Ant-Man and the Wasp is that there isn’t a bad guy,
there’s an antagonist.

Hannah John-Kamen is one of those performers whose work has been effortlessly good from the
jump off. She’s incredible in Killjoys, she’s great in Black Mirror, the cameo she has in Tomb Raider
and basically everything else. In Ant-Man and the Wasp, she plays Ghost, a dimensionally
dislocated thief and assassin. She survived the accident that killed her parents, which in turn
damaged her on the quantum level meaning her cells constantly tear apart and reform. She’s
essentially unlocked at the quantum level, leaving a ghostly image of herself when she moves and able to phase through solid objects. Rescued by SHIELD, and turned into an assassin by what’s implied to be Hydra-controlled SHIELD, she lives in constant agony and the relief for her pain is wound up with the very personal rescue mission that drives the A plot of the movie.

She’s also a chronic pain sufferer, albeit one with a science fictional twist. And the moment it becomes apparent that her condition is directly linked to Hank Pym’s research, the movie becomes two rescue missions, one of which is to save her. No science weirdo left behind, not on this watch.

It’s such a brilliant move that it’s passed a lot of people by. Because to be clear, Ghost is a villain
for a good two thirds of the movie. One of the best action sequences is a knockdown drag out
brawl between her and Wasp where her phasing powers and Wasp’s size control basically mean
one shot in three lands and all of them hurt. One of the others is a chase which basically involves
Scott hurling himself around obstacles with acrobatic abandon while Ghost methodically walks
through them. She’s always a threat, but when that threat is contextualised she becomes
something greater, rarer and infinitely more interesting; someone with immense power, in need of immense help. A spy who brought in from the quantum cold by the offer of the one thing no one can resist;
Hope.

There are other examples too. Margaret Stohl’s extraordinary, brave deep dive into the abusive
past of Captain Marvel. The rise of the 20 minute explainer as a program in its own right instead of a news segment. Culture, on every front, in every way is starting to rise to meet the hellscape of the late 10’s with the best possible tool to solve the problem; knowledge and through that, yet
again, hope.

And it needs to. 2018 is a dumpster fire of increasingly 20116ian proportion. But there have been
2016s and 2018s before. The world is always ending, but it never quite does and, like The Crystal Method said, there is hope. And right now, there’s more than there was at the top of the year. That’s not a large victory by any means but you know what? It’s a damn good start.

Not The Fox News: Star Trek is Punk Rock

There are two ways to view the news that Alex Kurtzman is not only going to be the showrunner for the remainder of Discovery season 2 but is spearheading the development of a fleet of other Star Trek shows. The first is to worry about the brand, nod grimly towards some of Kurtzman’s previous projects and wander off muttering about how Star Trek isn’t the same anymore.

The second is to kick a hole in the speakers, pull the plug and pogo off stage. Because, as I realized earlier today, Star Trek is and always shall be punk rock.

First off, yes Kurtzman has some ropey projects on his CV. The vast majority of people do. Not everyone has the massive success of the original Kelvinverse Trek movie, Fringe (Especially its early seasons) and the best Mission: Impossible movie on their record. Kurtzman does. And while there’s bad stuff on there as well, I’m remaining belligerently hopeful. Not only because the showrunners he’s succeeding were reportedly verbally abusive to their writers (Yell at your writers and they will eviscerate you in fiction forever) but because Kurtzman’s new deal, as reported by variety, is taking Trek the exact place it should go; where it’s never gone before.

The word is that his slate currently looks like this:

  • A confidential mini-series.
  • An animated series.
  • A mini-series focusing on Khan. Or perhaps KHAAAAAAAAAAAN!
  • A Starfleet Academy show run by Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz, currently in charge of the excellent Marvel series Runaways.

How about we start with the one giving everyone palpitations. The Starfleet Academy show is a great idea that arrived a couple of decades early. The original idea was to create a second tent pole franchise that would be

  1. Cheaper

and

  1. B) Logistically far easier than bringing the original cast back together.

It’s a great idea in principle but at the time it played too much like a back door replacement and was nixed. The brilliant thing about the idea is that it works far better as a TV show than it would as a movie. Plus Schwartz and Savage have shown, with Runaways, they’re exceptionally good at exploring the lives of gifted, difficult, weird young people and that describes pretty much every Starfleet Academy class you’d care to name.

This show has the potential to be the heart of the new Star Trek TV universe because cadets are the heart of Starfleet itself. Yes, it’s a military organization, a Navy that works in X, Y and Z axes but it’s also a fundamentally altruistic, compassionate, curious organization. Starfleet exists to explore the universe, make everyone’s lives better, meet new cultures and learn from them. That’s a powerful motif at the best of times and it’s no accident Discovery’s best episodes centred this concept. It’s also an immensely powerful, hopeful platform to tell stories from. Especially now and especially with a young, presumably multi-national and multi-species cast.

Then there’s that mini-series, whose plot may not be as confidential as anyone thought. Io9 are reporting that Sir Patrick Stewart is in talks to star in what would be the first Next Generation sequel since Nemesis. That’s going to make a massively vocal fan base immensely happy, and also put to rest one of the longest standing fan conversations; What happened after Next Generation?

Better still, it gives the shows a chance to break undeniable stylistic new ground in a more permissive environment than Discovery did. A mini-series with a beginning, a middle and an end? Trek as event TV? That’s so perfect I’m stunned it’s ever been done before. And better still, to do so with Captain Picard?! That’s like Christmas coming early, having brilliant diction and knowing Shakespeare.

It’s interesting too that there are plenty of gaps to fill in the post-Next Generation time period as well as amazing stories that already exist there. Star Trek‘s tie in novels have done an astonishing job of continuing the narratives set up in the various time periods, introducing new characters and new ships, crossing over with massive success and keeping the franchise very much alive and kicking. Likewise, Star Trek: Online does an excellent job of continuing the timeline in a new era, three decades upstream. All these stories, and their creators, deserve your time and the biggest challenge these new TV series may face is threading the needle between all the various islands of established stories.

Either way, there’s lots of opportunity for cameos from familiar faces and, more importantly, a chance to tell a compelling story in a different way featuring one of the greatest characters in the franchise’s history.

But seriously, sign me up for that West Wing model if we get it.

The Khan mini-series is a little harder to parse but I can see why they’re going for it. Khan remains the most iconic villain the series has ever had, and, after the misstep of casting Benedict Cumberbatch as him in Star Trek Into Darkness, there’s certainly room for a new, definitive take on the character.

As to what the series could be about, there are a couple of possibilities that spring to mind. The Eugenics Wars have always been somewhat…movable, within Star Trek canon and an origin story that explored them would have a lot of potential. It would also, if done wrong in the current climate, be the televisual equivalent of a slow motion 4K train wreck.

What might be more interesting is an exploration of Khan and his people’s time in exile on Ceti Alpha V. Perhaps there were other visitors before the Reliant or some of them were able to get off world. Either way, it’s the show we know the least about and has the most potential as a result especially as this may well be the secret project Nicholas Meyer has been working on for the last couple of years. Let’s face it, if anyone can bring Khan back and make it work, it’s him. And if Miguel Ángel Silvestre from Sense8 isn’t in the running to play Khan then something has gone seriously wrong.

Finally, the concept of a new Star Trek animated series fills me with glee. Not just because the original did such a great job but because the new series of Voltron in particular has demonstrated time and again just how well episodic SF adapts to the format. It’s also worth noting that this could be where Stewart shows up again. He’s got years of experience doing voice work with Seth MacFarlane and it’d be oddly fitting for him to bring that skill set back to Trek.

Then there are the possibilities of what a Marvel-like approach to Star Trek open up. What if the Academy show introduces a character we see, as an adult, in a later series? Or a crossover which starts in one show and flashes back there for an episode? The Arrowverse has proved time and again how effective these storytelling techniques can be and this is new ground for Trek so anything goes.

And, of course, there are the side benefits. Discovery took endless flak for both its design choices and the fact it didn’t ‘feel’ enough like a prequel for some people. Others wanted a continuation rather than a new start and still others objected to the perception of liberties being taken with the show’s canon and design.

All of those things were and are, for me, among the show’s strongest points. And the beauty of it is now they can be again without being, ironically, the torchbearer for the entire franchise. Trek contains multitudes, and here, at last, is a chance to prove it. Any era, any approach, any subject matter.

It doesn’t matter what we get in a way because the simple act of it being presented in this way means it will be different, and new and interesting. Let Discovery be Discovery. Let the new shows build on what’s gone before. let the audience pick which flavour works for them.

So why is Star Trek punk rock and not metal? Because it’s Star Trek. Because ‘Out there, thataway’. Because of trans temporal cetacean rescue missions and coffee hidden in nebulae. Because of baseball and holographic civil rights. Because of Tom Hardy’s first big job being playing Evil Jean- Luc Picard. Because of dogs named after musketeers and officers who are emotionally compromised. Because of Saru’s ability to sense death and what he says when it isn’t approaching. Because of the untidy canon and the dubious timeline and the hundreds of novels and comics and games.

Because Star Trek is an exuberant sprint, head up, arms wide, into a future where we aren’t alone and we don’t deserve to be. It’s a universe built on hard won compassion and hopefulness, on the joy of discovery and learning and communication. Infinite Diversity in infinite Combinations and sometimes those combinations will absolutely have weird uniforms, or a strange theme tune and that doesn’t matter. Because Star Trek is a universe built on hope, on curiosity and on engaging with and learning from the other. And right now, that’s almost as punk as you can get.

Four new series. Four new takes plus more Discovery and more Orville which plays a lot of the same notes, just in a different order. I can’t wait. And I’ll see you in the mosh pit.

Not The Fox News: New Minds, Fresh Ideas, Free Comics

Free Comic Book Day, this weekend just gone, is an annual event designed to bring people into their local comics stores. Companies produce free books designed to showcase their best material, and stores buy it (Hold that thought) and give it away to customers. There are snacks, balloons, signings, parties.

I love it, firstly because it’s a great outreach tool for an industry I worked in a lot and desperately needs new blood. Secondly because each successive Free Comic Book Day drives a stake a little further into the heart of the Comic Book Guy stereotype. And, as a 6’2, 300 pound former comic store manager, trust me when I say when that worthless garbage take is finally irrevocably dead I will be the first to dance on his grave.

(Quick aside: I once wrote an extended essay on this exact subject, for a comics site. I got this BRILLIANT 3000 word rebuttal emailed to me by someone who proved, using science, that Comic Book Guy is the hero of The Simpsons. I mean, they were completely wrong, but I respect the hustle).

Anyhoo, this is the first FCBD in a while where I’ve been near a store. Crunch Comics, in Reading, is about ten minutes away from my front door and has the exact feel I always look for in comic stores. Despite being smallits clean, brightly lit, cool, tidy and has a real sense of focused energy and enthusiasm to it. It’s the exact sort of store that Free Comic Book Day should be bringing new people to and I made sure to both pick up a couple of books and order a couple of things too.
Because, remember, Free Comic Book Day is only free for you. The stores have to pay so the unspoken social contact has to be; you pick up something free, you order something or buy something.
They didn’t have much stock left, which is always a good sign, but I grabbed a couple of books and read them last night. And it’s only now, having done so, that I realize they accidentally book end everything I love about geek culture, and what’s happening to it, surprisingly well.


WARNING: GIANT ROBOTS AHEAD

Transformers: Unicorn is written by John Barber, has art by Alex Milne, colours by Sebastian Cheng and letters by Tom B Long and is the start of an official endgame for this run of Transformers comics. IDW have held the license for over a decade and in that time have done extraordinary things with it. Till All Are One is essentially The West Wing (Of Cybertron) following the struggles to maintain peace on a world full of functionally-immortal transforming heavily armored robots. Optimus Prime has dived deep into the mindset of the most important leader in Autobot history and discovered just how fallible he can be and More Than Meets The Eye and Lost Light have essentially distilled joy down into comic form.


Seriously, these books are wondrous. More Than Meets The Eye is the story of a blazing argument that leads Hot Rod and a crew of volunteers to leave Cybertron in search of what is almost certainly a myth. They screw up, a lot. They get lost even more. It’s somewhere between Hitch-Hiker’s Guide, Waiting for Godot and Red Dwarf, just with heavily armed transforming robots as the lead. Over the years, the book, and Lost Light its sequel, have explored PTSD, romance, the fluidity of sexual identity and just how in love with himself Hot Rod actually is. They’ve given a redemption narrative, one that landed no less, to the last character that you’d expect. They’ve been hilarious, tragic, heart-warming and inspirational. Everything a licensed comic is traditionally expected not to be.


Unicron is the beginning of the end. The Orson Welles-voiced planet eater is going to munch his way across these books and bring them all to an end, and, presumed reboot. And in doing so, he’s demonstrating the thing no one likes to talk about with comics in particular and stories in general. They have to end. Or rather, they should end.
Comics are long-form serials and that shouldn’t work. A serial, especially a pulp one is driven by cliff-hangers and the longer it goes the less powerful those become. The cliffs get shorter, the explosions smaller. Before long you’re going through the motions rather than telling the story and for a lot of comics, for a lot of time, that’s worked.
The harder, better choice, is to bring things to an end. In doing so, you give your characters a chance to resolve, your readers a chance to say goodbye and you leave the stage before someone yells ‘Do FREEBIRD!’. But you also deny people of that shrinking, but still present, joy of continuation. It’s a difficult path to walk, and I commend the IDW staff for making the call. I’ll still miss this guy though:


And that brings us to Doctor Who. I’ve written before (I think? If not I should) about how Who’s specific gravity dragging everything in UK pop culture back to it is by no means a good thing at times. This, however, is not one of those times.The Doctor Who FCBD offering contains three (Well…kind of…) stories featuring the Tenth, Seventh and Eleventh Doctors.

‘Catch A Falling Star’ follows Tenth Doctor companion Gabby as she falls through space to what she thinks is her death. Written by Nick Abadzis it’s a neat summation of the Tenth Doctor run featuring Gabby and has stunning artwork from Giorgia Sposito and Arianna Florean. This is truly gorgeous work, using Gabby’s own sketch journals to tell the story and finishing on a beat that’s as surprising as it is welcome. The End, it seems, has been prepared for. And this time at least, is not The End…

‘The Armageddon Gambit’ by John Freeman, with art by Christopher Jones and colours by Marco Lesko is up next. This is the Seventh Doctor and Ace at their finest, playing chess on levels their opponents don’t see coming. It’s breezy and fun and Jones’ artwork does that near impossible thing of capturing likenesses without losing fluidity of expression, Plus, again, there’s a subtle note of hacking the game so you can win here. It’s a Seventh Doctor story certainly but one with a far more grandiose (And REALLY COOL) Console room than the BBC budget ever allowed.

‘Midnight Feast’ is up next, by George Mann with art by Mariano Laclaustra and colours by Carls Cabrera. This is an odd one for me as Eleven is one of the Doctors I have the least time for. However, the story does a great job of emphasizing the best elements of that run’s style. Peckish but not sure for what, Eleven pops the TARDIS off to one of his favorite diners, resolves a dispute or two, fails to find anything he likes and is then introduced to the joys of the tuna sandwich by his companion, Alice. It’s short, breezy, fun and again, ends in a way you wouldn’t expect.

And then this happens.No warning. No dialogue. Just, BOOM.  The 13th Doctor, running headlong into the world with a massive smile on her face and trouble undoubtedly mere pages away. Jody Houser’s script, Rachael Stott’s art, Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt’s letters, it all works perfectly and works instantly. In doing so, it ties everything I’ve been talking about together.
Stories can, and should, end. Otherwise they aren’t stories they’re just doing laps with words. Empty exercises in style and nostalgia that ring hollow even as the few voices still singing along get louder.

But there’s always another way, and it’s one that these books, especially the Doctor Who one, embody;

Change.

The same notes played on a new instrument. New voices. New perspectives. Ones that honor what they’re built on but aren’t beholden to them. Stories that do not gate keep themselves and whose fans shouldn’t either. Because every new voice, every new perspective and new start shows us all something different about the stories we love. And if that isn’t amazing, I don’t know what is.

Happy Free Comic Book Day everyone. Go take your local store donuts and buy something. I’ll see you next month.

(And if you have trouble finding your local comic store, try here. Or, talk to these folks. I used to work for them and they’re good people.)

Not The Fox News: The 2018 To Do List

I think, before we go any further, we need to make one thing clear.

FUCK 2017.

This miserable, shithousing catastrophe storm of a year didn’t even have the common goddamn decency to be a parade of outright misery like 2016 was. We didn’t lose David Bowie or Prince again (Although 2017 would have resurrected them just to kill them if it could) but we did get to see both the aftermath of 2016 and just what a 12 month long descent into Global Idiocy looks like.

FUCK 2017. Fuck it so hard, this video, which closed last year’s final column is just as relevant now.

So, with that established, what’s next? Easy. Kindness. Enthusiasm. Hope.

Kindness first off. There’s been a lot of circular discussion in creative circles about how hard it’s been to work this year. And it has been, make no mistake. I’ve been tremendously lucky in that it hasn’t hit me directly but even I’ve felt it. The compulsion not to work, not to even recover from the latest installment of Stupid Watergate or Keeping Up Appearances For Your Racist Scumbag Uncle, but to brace for whatever’s next.
I have a lot of experience with bracing. I have a lot of experience with standing in the breach and holding on until the horror passes, taking a breath and trying to heal before it starts again.
It doesn’t get you anywhere except standing in the way of harm with ever decreasing intervals to recover.

Don’t do that.

And the best way to not do that? Is make sure others don’t. Once a week, or a month, or whatever, reach out to someone you know. Get in contact, go for a coffee, chat in DMs, whatever. Bitch, whine, laugh, scream. Whatever. But talk to someone else regularly because that will mean they come off the line. And that means you will too. And that in turn means people around you will do the same thing. Take breaks. Rest. Have fun. You’re allowed fun. Fun is VITAL.
Be kind. Because kindness has momentum to it and all it ever does is create more kindness, more momentum, more enthusiasm. That old saying ‘be the change you want to be in the world’? It’s annoying because it’s true. My own personal version ‘Be the friend bearing coffee you want to meet you for lunch in the world’ is less punchy but perhaps a little less sappy too. Also, coffee.

Next up, enthusiasm.
You’re not just allowed to be enthusiastic about things, it’s pretty much mandatory.
And I say that as a BRIT.
There will be pieces of culture you like, pieces you love and pieces that light you up like a Christmas tree. No one’s will be the same. It’s like we’re all holding different pieces of the same jigsaw puzzle and they fit together anyway we want them to. And we fit them together when we talk about what we love, when we’re enthusiastic about them. We make our lives better by talking about what we love.
We make everyone’s lives better by listening to what other people love. That’s how, as Bill Hicks once put it, we get on the spaceships and get out of here.
Culture is a language, that’s how I always think of it. The more you know, the more new things you encounter, the better you can speak it. Be enthusiastic, listen when others are. Everyone will win if you do.

And finally, hope.
For a very long time I was Charlie Brown getting the football taken away at the last minute. So long, in fact, that my big problem now is closing. I will do 75% of a job but even now, years later, I have to struggle to believe that the final 25% is going to be worth doing sometimes.
I struggle to hope. Professionally, at least, a lot of the time.
I plan to change that in 2018.
Whatever form it takes for you, hope. If it’s a job you don’t think you’ll get, go for it. If it’s a task you don’t think you’ll complete, start it. If it’s something you’ve never cooked before, cook it. The worst thing that will happen is you learn you don’t want to do it again.

The best? You WIN. You chisel some more space for yourself out of the year and fill it with enthusiasm for what you’ve just done and kindness for those around you because if you got a win? They can too and once they do? The process starts all over again and we cycle up into positive, fun experiences instead of down into the never ending whirlpool of Suck.

Kindness.
Enthusiasm.
Hope.
Or, as a well known Doctor put it, laugh hard, run fast, be kind.

As New Year To Do lists go that sounds pretty great doesn’t it?

See you in 2018. Happy New Year everyone.

Not The Fox News: 2017’s Non Awful Bits: The Babysitter

It’s been Happy Christmas! Welcome to one of my favorite times of year, the week that isn’t quite anything!

 

Know what it’s perfect for?

 

MOVIES.

 

It’s been a planes, trains and automobiles kind of month. A trip to Vegas for a friend’s wedding, another friend’s vow renewal and PENN AND TELLER!!!!!! Was followed by two trips into That London and a journey to Winterfell for my dad’s first ever book launch.

It’s been GREAT. it’s also been exhausting. And annoying in spots. I am consistently about an inch and a half wider than seats than are designed so I get shoulder checked basically every time someone comes down the aisle. As a result, on long journeys I sleep pretty intermittently (Although I passed out somewhere above Hudson Bay and woke up somewhere above Ireland on the journey back which is a WIN).

I watch movies when I travel. A lot of movies. And I can honestly say I’ve seen very little this year that’s more fun than The Babysitter.

Released on Netflix a little while ago, The Babysitter stars Judah Lewis as Cole. Cole i a 12 year old kid, sweet, nerdy, and perpetually babysat. His parents love him but they also…well…they need some space. So he’s regularly left alone for the weekend while they go and have ‘hotel therapy’ and Bee, his babysitter, looks after him. Played with Harley Quinnian joy by Samara Weaving, Bee is no nonsense, nerdy to the core, tough as nails and gorgeous. Cole is very much in love.

That is not going to end well for him.

After a relatively slow opening 15 minutes, The Babysitter puts every piece of chocolate in the house in the blender, adds all the coffee and downs it in one. The second two acts escalate with just startling grace as Cole discovers the truth about Bee and is hunted by a carefully picked ensemble of some of the best young actors and actresses working today. It’s like a Joe Dante movie mixed with the middle of a Supernatural episode before the boys show up. Only they never do and the only person who can save the kid is the kid.

I love this movie so many different ways. Samara Weaving is about to have a very good horror year with the imminent release of Mayhem and she’s GREAT here. Brian Duffield’s script cleverly gives her just enough back story for you to fill in the rest and Weaving balances flamboyant charm with dead eyed rage perfectly. The supporting cast are great too, especially Bella Thawne as a would-be conspirator and Robbie Amell as, well, Robbie Amell. The Amell boys have been doing great work for a while but Robbie, here and in the magnificent The Duff, shows truly remarkab;e comic timing. The dude’s amazing, and it’s a pleasure to see him work.

But the stars  are Judah Lewis and McG. Lewis is amazing as Cole precisely because he’s so normal. I’ve been this kid; nice, unsure of himself, terrified of everything. He’s instantly likable and Lewis has an incredible line in long-suffering commentary that gives the movie some of it’s best lines.

And McG is so clearly having fun that he sweeps you along with him. There’s a specific moment where the film goes full Grindhouse and from that second on McG is off the leash and running down the hill, screaming with joy. Captions, freeze-frames, locked off and mobile cameras. Everything is on the table here and everything is used to create a movie that’s scary, clever, funny and FUN. Best of all, the film doesn’t so much sidestep the ‘…OR IS IT?!’ Beat that horror movies have leant on for decades as turn it into something earned and fitting.

The Babysitter is FUN. Nasty, stabby, sweary fun. It’s in my top 3 movies of the year and I can’t wait to see it again. If you’ve got Netflix, do yourself a favor, and check it out. And bring your pen knife…

Not The Fox News: 2017’s Non Awful Bits: Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

So, the year that for a while looked like it would just go on forever is almost done. It’s varied between hard. awful and ‘DOES IT HAVE TO BE THIS MUCH FUN?!’. Congratulations for getting here.

And to celebrate, I’ve got a couple of pieces about some of the cultural bits of the year that weren’t unlawful. Starting with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, quietly the strangest, and sweetest, game where you kill lots of unnamed thugs released in years.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy a little while ago. It’s the fifth game in the franchise and the first to feature a really interesting gear change. The first four games all focus on profoundly luckless treasure hunter Nathan Drake. Nate is Indiana Jones with less preparation; completely charming, endlessly self confident and always a quarter second from horrible death.

The franchise has done two, almost unprecedented things. The first is that it’s written Nate out. The first four games follow him through the last four jobs of his career and through the growing realization that he’s, if not getting too old for this shit, he’s certainly getting too mature. The ending of Uncharted 4 is legitimately one of my favorite pieces of fiction. It’s a breath let out, an ending that no one expects and is both a definitive ending and anything but. To say any more would be to spoil a genuinely lovely experience.

The second brave thing the series has done is continue. And do so with two female leads.

Chloe Frazer has been a fixture in the series since Uncharted 2. A hard-changing, morally flexible Australian treasure hunter Chloe’s arc across the series has been really subtle. She’s moved from antagonist to reluctant ally, now to lead character. Likewise her partner, Nadine Ross started off as a villain. The owner of Shoreline, a private security firm hired by the real villain of Uncharted 4, Nadine loses her job when the vast majority of Shoreline is shot out from under her by Nate, Chloe and Nate’s brother Sam.

So, an intensely private, morally mutable treasure hunter and a soldier of fortune without an army.

What could possibly go wrong?

Everything! In the funnest way possible!

The Lost Legacy isn’t just a great Uncharted game complete with the exact climbing, jumping, exploding, exploring action the series is best known for. It’s also a Bechdel-shattering female buddy movie that could be read as a romance and manages to fold in a nuanced subtle approach to the supernatural as well.

The game revolves around the search for a pair of lost cities, both of which are wrapped up in a story that focuses on Ganesh, the Indian god of Wisdom. The elephant-faced god is a constant presence thanks to a token Chloe is playing with and the colossal buildings you get to climb and frequently fall off and plummet to your death. He’s also, quietly, Chloe’s chosen god. She apologises to a statue of him at one point, says thank you to one at another.

And then, maybe, meets him. Or at least a friend of his.

Nadine’s trust issues and Chloe’s fundamental inability to not tell the full truth collide at about the two thirds mark. This leads to Nadine running off in a huff, Chloe following her and the pair having an argument that shows they’re both equally right. Or at least, equally in the wrong. As they talk, they realise the villain of the piece is using explosives to blast his way into the city. In doing so, he’s trapped an elephant under some masonry.

Still pissed at one another, they help the animal out without a second’s discussion. And the elephant promptly stands up, walks the pair of them to the next location and gives them time to start working through their problems.

Or to put it another way, Chloe spends the entire game trying to save a pair of cities dedicated to Ganesh from being turned into plunder, and gets a gentle helping hand in return. Or to put it still another way, you do Ganesh a solid, Ganesh does you a solid.

It’s a lovely moment, made all the better by the fact you can read it literally or spiritually. It’s not that it’s a piece of game architecture or a mild supernatural intervention, it’s that it can be, and is, both. This is the sort of ground Uncharted excels at exploring; just a little past what we know, just a little outside the campfire and into the deep, dark woods where something amazing and dangerous is always waiting.

Oh and this happens too.

Better still, it puts the games solidly in the Indiana Jones wheelhouse they’ve always toyed with as well as subverting how it approaches that idea. Previous games have included an ancient bio weapon, actual yeti and some hilariously inventive booby traps. This time, you get the same sort of approach to the past but the danger doesn’t come from Ganesh himself. Rather, it comes from how people perceive the stories around him. A pivotal moment involves Chloe mimicking him exactly and her entire arc in the game is ultimately about making her peace with her past, her dad and her friendly, obtuse chosen deity. It’s intensely personal and at times very moving, as well as giving you the opportunity to have a punch up in a crashing helicopter. And who doesn’t want that?

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is smart, funny and FUN. And Gods know we all need a little fun right now. So, if you can, go spend some time with Chloe and Nadine. Not just because its a great game but because its a textbook example of how to deal with the supernatural, and issues of faith, with subtlety and compassion. And Ganesh-assisted helicopter punching.

 

Not The Fox News: Fox and Mouse Part 2: OH MY GOD DEADPOOL IS AN AVENGER NOW

PREVIOUSLY! ON NOT THE FOX NEWS!

Disney have bought a sizable chunk of Fox including pretty much its entire Movie studio. This is good news for people on each board and completely uncertain and disturbing news for everyone working for the channels, companies and shows Disney now own. We wish them all the best possible luck, and hope the transition is as creatively painless, and redundancy free, as possible.

NOW WE CONTINUE

And now, we put our tinfoil hats on. Because like Jack Ryan in The Hunt For Red October, there’s a pattern here. Specifically, a pattern that suggests this merger has been back-channeled for years and Infinity War, and Avengers 4, are the part of the iceberg we can see.

We know that Infinity War sees Thanos come to Earth to complete his collection of Infinity Gems and bring balance to the universe by killing everyone and knocking Tony Stark out with one punch. We also know, thanks to the various Infinity Gem-centric comic stories, that he’s almost certainly going to win. At least in the short term. We know some Avengers fall. We have a pretty good idea of who. We also know that something very odd happens in Avengers 4 which seems to involve a semi-alternate version of the events of Avengers Assemble.

All of this, not to mention Thanos punching a planet in the face with it’s own moon in the trailer, says the Infinity Stones are going to be in major use in the next movie and probably the one after that.

The Infinity Gauntlet can warp reality. What if, perhaps as a final sacrifice, Tony or Steve acquires it, rebuilds things to how they were before Thanos and…adds a few extras?

It’s very difficult to not look at the timing of this announcement and Infinity War and suspect they converge. If they do, it would be a deeply weird combination of big business and narrative structure. And it would lead some of Marvel’s biggest characters home.

The X-Men

The franchise that kicked off the superhero movie boom but recently the bloom has very much come off the rose. Apocalypse was startlingly bad and the overall timeline is all but impossible to follow. Folding the X-Men back in would give Marvel a chance to streamline that, as well as put a half dozen of their best heavyweights back in the ring. Wolverine, The New Mutants, the X-Men. They’re all back in play. But who’ll play Professor X? Stewart or McAvoy? It’s so confusing…

Fantastic Four

Somewhere out there is the writer and director who will make a genuinely great Fantastic Four movie that isn’t called The Incredibles. Should this deal go through, the chance of finding them will drastically increase.

There’ve been four modern attempts at a live action Fantastic Four movie. The Roger Corman version is deliberately terrible, the two Tim Story movies have a great cast and no idea what to do with them and the Josh Trank version is the world’s first 1.75 act story. All of them (Well…maybe not the Corman) have elements that work. The Trank one honestly hurts the most because it’s going GREAT until it just…stops. None of them work well enough.

That may be about to change. And if Tony Stark is one of the big casualties of the final Avengers movies, perhaps Reed Richards will step up…

Deadpool

Please protect our horribly disfigured, psychotic kitten of a fourth-wall breaking mercenary, Disney. He’s squalid and slightly rubbish but his heart is…there. It’s definitely there.

 

This deal isn’t quite confirmed yet but if it’s at the stage where it’s announced, then the lawyers on both sides must like their chances. If it does go through, we’re in for some big surprises. Here’s hoping they’re all good ones.

And that Deadpool gets to be an Avenger, obvs.