This is a very strange time for movie mutants. With the Disney/FOX merger nearly complete, the X-franchises, which ushered in the modern age of superhero films with 2000’s X-Men, are in limbo. New Mutants and Dark Phoenix will likely wrap up the FOX-era X-Men films, and you could see Xavier and Co. in the MCU in the next three years. Where does that leave the insanely successful Deadpool franchise? That’s a really good question.
The MCU is traditionally PG-13, something that Deadpool never has been…until this Christmas. The release of Once Upon a Deadpool, essentially a PG-13 recut of Deadpool 2, may be an audition for a more family-friendly Merc With a Mouth…or it could just be a naked cash grab to squeeze just a little more money out of Deadpool 2‘s run.
One thing that is dead is the X-Force spinoff that Deadpool 2 sets up. That is a crying shame because for the problems I did have with the film (and I did like it very much overall), the introduction and execution (literally) of X-Force was the best thing about ‘Pool 2. Deadpool is at his best when he’s just allowed to be the unhinged, manic id of the Marvel Universe. It’s why the character is better off without PG-13 shackles. A huge part of Deadpool’s appeal is the anticipation that he may say or do absolutely anything at any given moment, and you lose that if you bring him down a rating level.
If you were a comic book fan in the 1990s, you could not avoid X-Force. Rob Liefeld’s supergroup of pouty-lipped, barely-footed mutants was a sales juggernaut. They could also be…well, I don’t currently have the mental bandwidth to get into Rob Liefeld, but suffice it to say that there are few things that made me as happy and laugh as hard as watching Shatterstar’s demise. The entire sequence, from Deadpool’s open casting call, to his inspirational plane speech, to the shortest outing in super-team history is sheer brilliance. Special recognition to Brad Pitt for one of the most unexpected cameos in recent memory and to Rob Delaney’s Peter. Oh, Peter. I miss you the most, too.
We have, at this point, dozens and dozens of superhero films. I think you could stack the overall quality of the genre against any other in filmdom, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t had our share of devastating missteps along the way. Watch Mojo has two videos categorizing the most egregious times comic book movies deviated from the source material or were poorly received by fans. The greatest hits are here: Spider-Man 3’s disco striding evil Peter, Iron Man 3’s Mandarin switcheroo, Superman II’s amnesia kiss, and Batman vs. Superman’s Martha madness. Some of their entries feel like stretches. Yes, The Killing Joke was an abomination, but were people overly upset Thor: Ragnarok was funny? X-Men Origins: Wolverine’s treatment of Deadpool was awful, but did anyone actually expect more than what we got out of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the Bay edition)? What moments are missing from WM’s lists?
DC has premiered the trailers for its six live-action fall shows. Arrow, Black Lightning, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, and Supergirl return to The CW this fall. DC’s future plans for TV are centered around their DCU Streaming Service. The new service was unveiled at Comic-Con and the trailer for the service’s first show, Titans, was unveiled. DC plans to add live-action Swamp Thing, Doom Patrol, and Stargirl shows next year as well as animated series featuring Young Justice and Harley Quinn. The only DC show that wasn’t trailer-ready for Comic-Con was SyFy’s Krypton. The Superman prequel show announced it would be returning in early 2019 and that season two’s big bad would be intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo.
Arrow Season Seven (The CW, Returns 10/15/18)
Black Lightning Season Two (The CW, Returns 10/9/18)
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season Four (The CW, Returns 10/22/18)
The Flash Season Five (The CW, Returns 10/9/18)
Supergirl Season Four (The CW, Returns 10/14/18)
Titans Season One (DC Streaming Service – Fall 2018)
Aquaman has been one of my favorite DCEU incarnations, regardless of the quality of the films he’s thus far appeared in. December brings us DCEU Issue #6 and Aquaman’s solo film debut. James Wan will direct Jason Mamoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson, Randall Park and others in an underseas epic. The first trailer for Aquaman was the finale of WB’s San Diego Comic-Con film panel (which means I may now go eat a sandwich and stop hitting “refresh”). Of the two DCEU trailers WB brought to Comic-Con…Shazam looked better than I had hoped and Aquaman…was rough. Visually stunning in parts, but there is some wince-inducing stuff in this. It is the first look, but it’s also a film that’s basically done. We shall see. Aquaman swims into theaters on December 21, 2018.
From CBR’s notes on the panel:
Aquaman closed out the panel with an epic entrance by Jason Mamoa. The cast and director James Wan took the stage.
“One of the big things I wanted to do was create a superhero world we’d never seen before,” Wan said, “This might in some ways play more like a sci-fi/fantasy film than a traditional superhero movie which I think you’ll see in the trailer.”
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II confessed that despite getting the role of Black Manta, he didn’t know how to swim. “I secretly went down to the hotel pool when we were filming with a kick board and taught myself how to swim in the mornings and evenings,” he laughed, “but then in the end I ended up not really having to do that much swimming.
The DCEU will have one film this year (Aquaman) and three next year (Shazam, Joker, Wonder Woman 1984). After the failure of Justice League last year, WB has put a lot of effort into getting their uneven film universe back on track. Captain Marvel and Aquaman are an unlikely one-two punch back to being on track, but they’re also characters that have no film history and little pop culture footprint. The first look at Shazam is really promising and seems to validate the casting of Zachary Levi (Chuck) in the role. Full synopsis from Coming Soon below. Shazam will hit theaters in April 2019.
We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard. Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong).
The cast includes Asher Angel (Andi Mack) as Billy Batson, Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy) as The Wizard, and Mark Strong (Kingsman) in the role of Super-Villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. The film also stars Jack Dylan Grazer (IT) as Billy’s best friend and ultimate superhero enthusiast, Freddy, part of the foster family that includes Mary, played by Grace Fulton (Annabelle: Creation); Darla, played by Faithe Herman (This is Us); Eugene, played by Ian Chen (Fresh Off the Boat); and Pedro, played by Jovan Armand (Hawaii Five-0). Cooper Andrews (The Walking Dead) and Marta Milans (Killer Women) play foster parents Victor and Rosa Vasquez.