Meet The Flash, Grant Gustin

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The CW has found its Barry Allen. Grant Gustin will play the man who eventually becomes The Flash in the upcoming second season of ARROW. The actor spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about landing the role.

I’m unbelievably excited. I’ve been a lifelong fan of DC Comics, so I can’t be more honored and can’t wait to get started.

Gustin will appear in three episode of ARROW before, the network hopes, spinning off into his own show next fall. Like ARROW star Stephen Amell, Gustin is an unknown commodity as far as the comic book crowd is concerned, but that was always going to be the case. He will, however, carry over a passionate following from his time on GLEE, a series with a very loyal fanbase.

This news probably won’t ease the pain of those still feeling The Flash should be free to run on the big screen rather than be confined to television, but there is no reason to believe Gustin will not do well in the role. Stephen Amell turned skeptics into loyal fans of his portrayal of Oliver Queen. Gustin deserves the chance to do the same for Barry Allen.

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Countdown #4

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Welcome back to your biweekly voyage to Knowhere as we continue to mark GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY being 14 days closer to its August 1, 2014 release date! The past two weeks have been kind to GUARDIANS fans with official casting news and a hot, but unconfirmed rumor. In this edition of the countdown, we will also begin a more thorough examination of the source material to prep you for your cosmic adventure next year.

Rocket RacCooper!

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It’s official: Bradley Cooper will be the voice of Rocket Raccoon in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, as announced by Marvel just one day after the last edition of this countdown. Cooper adds name recognition to an unknown property that can certainly use the help in drawing mainstream awareness, but more importantly, he’s a great actor. Director James Gunn has maintained Rocket is the heart and soul of this movie, so expect Cooper to have a big, positive impact on the story being told. He may not be a fanboy favorite, but no one really was for this role and in general, seemingly unconventional casting choices tend to work out when the director feels as though he got his mammal. If Gunn is “stoked,” we can be, too.

Why Adam Warlock Matters

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Normally, MMM does not bother itself or its readers with unconfirmed rumors, but I am going to make a rare exception in this week’s countdown due to how massive the latest GOTG rumor is, and where it’s coming from. El Mayimbe of Latino-Review, the site that first broke the story of Bradley Cooper being offered the role of Rocket Raccoon, tweeted the following earlier this week:

As El Mayimbe noted, he has not been able to confirm this rumor, but based on the influence the Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning 2008 run on GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY clearly has on this production, it would not be surprising to see Adam Warlock in the film. When Benecio Del Toro was cast as an unknown character that would appear in multiple Marvel films, my first thought was Adam Warlock. Marvel later announced Del Toro is playing The Collector, but perhaps this is a smokescreen.

The presence of Adam Warlock in multiple films makes a lot of sense in the current and impending state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Warlock was one of the central in characters in the Abnett/Lanning 25-issue GOTG run and he is also one of the main characters in a little story called THE INFINITY GAUNTLET, one of the signature Marvel events starring Thanos, whose presence in the MCU has already been established. Adding Warlock into the MCU mix is hardly essential, but such a move would fit.

Superhero films are no stranger to intentionally misidentified or merged roles in order to keep major plot points hidden. Ducard, played by Liam Neeson, was really Ra’s al Ghul in BATMAN BEGINS despite Ken Watanabe being announced for the latter role. According to a Warner Bros. press release, Marion Cotillard was set to play Miranda Tate before a slow twist of the knife showed audiences she was actually Talia in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. Just this year, the Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley) and Alrdich Killian (Guy Pearce) were not all they were announced to be in IRON MAN 3.

None of this is to say Del Toro’s role of The Collector is definitely an attempt at misdirection. Even if it is a smokescreen, Del Toro could really be another character instead of Adam Warlock, like Thanos. This is, however, a rumor worth keeping an eye on, so stay tuned.

Ass-Kickers Of The Fantastic!

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Roughly 14 months ago, when Marvel first announced GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY as one of the studio’s Phase Two films in the MCU, my knowledge of the property was only just beyond an awareness of its existence. As Marvel’s announcement shed more light on the concept of GOTG, however, I knew closer examination was needed. The first gem I uncovered was Volume 1 of the aforementioned Abnett/Lanning run from 2008, “Legacy.”

Following back-to-back cosmic catastrophes in Marvel’s ANNIHILATION crossover event, Peter Quill, also known as Star-Lord, feels a more proactive approach to intergalactic heroics is needed. With the goal of finding and eliminating threats before they grow into universal tragedies, Quill forms an initially unnamed team of seemingly misfit superheroes, some of whom have checkered pasts. Essentially, they are the Bad News Bears version of The Avengers.

The concept of unique characters with different backgrounds and resulting perspectives coming together to form an unlikely team is hardly new, but the execution makes “Legacy” worthwhile. The dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny, a rarity in superhero comics. All of the humor is woven seamlessly into the epic adventures so as to provide comic relief without deflating the danger. It is a difficult balancing act that pays off in wonderfully entertaining ways.

As wacky as the characters may be, their interaction with one another remains on a very relatable level. They fight with each other because of their differences. They fight for each other because no one else will. None of this comes automatically, as breakdowns in communication constantly threaten the implosion of the team, but the characters learn, adapt, and try to get along. As “Legacy” comes to a close, however, a secret as to how the odds of this unlikely alliance forming were intentionally inflated may prove to be a deal-breaker.

This six-issue collection is available in print and digital trade, making it a relatively inexpensive way to check out GOTG before deciding whether or not to commit to the remainder of the run. Check it out. You’ll be glad you did, if for no other reason than helping this countdown make a lot more sense.

Be sure to check back here in two weeks for more GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY goodness! For now, here’s Drax treating Star-Lord to a viewing of RIDDICK.

Loki & Odin Character Posters from THOR: TDW

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Marvel has released two brand new character posters from THOR: THE DARK WORLD, featuring two of the most prominent members of Asgard’s royal family. King of the Realm Eternal, Odin, stands at the ready while Loki stretches his legs outside of his cell. With so many new posters being unveiled in recent weeks, might a third trailer be on the way? We will probably have to wait until October for that, but the sooner the better.

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Warner Bros. And J.K. Rowling Find FANTASTIC BEASTS On Film

With more than 450 million books sold in 74 languages in 200 territories and eight feature films that grossed $7.7 billion in international box office, it’s impossible to deny that Harry Potter has been a monumental part of the Modern Mythology of readers young and old. And I personally find that fabulous; it’s wonderful when something comes along that gets kids excited about reading, and the themes of courage, sacrifice, and friendship always rang true and often even tragic. Characters made mistakes and learned hard lessons at the expense of others in the grand battle of good versus evil, with many beloved heroes losing their lives by the time the battle was won. Harry’s world with bursting with imagination and possibility, and millions upon millions of his fans have wondered if they’d ever get to visit it again.

As of today, they’ll wonder no more. Warner Bros. just announced a new franchise with Harry Potter creator and author J.K. Rowling set to make her screenwriting debut on a new series of films based on FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM, a 42-page companion she published for fun as a textbook in 2001. Just as the book was, the new films will be set in Harry Potter’s world of magic, monsters, and mythology.

The press release from Warner Bros.:

Rowling to Make Screenwriting Debut on FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM, the First in a New Film Series

Partnership Spans All Areas of Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter Businesses, Including Theme Parks, Digital Initiatives, Games and Visitor Attractions

Plus Studio to Serve as Global International TV Distributor of J.K. Rowling’s Upcoming Adaptation of Her Book THE CASUAL VACANCY for the BBC

September 12, 2013 – Burbank, CA and London, U.K. – Warner Bros. Entertainment today announced an expanded creative partnership with world-renowned, best-selling author J.K. Rowling. At the center of the partnership is a new film series from Rowling’s world of witches and wizards, inspired by Harry Potter’s Hogwarts textbook FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM and the adventures of the book’s fictitious author, Newt Scamander. The announcement was made by Kevin Tsujihara, Chief Executive Officer, Warner Bros. Entertainment.

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM will be an original story and will mark Rowling’s screenwriting debut. It is planned as the first picture in a new film series. Set in the wizarding world, the story will feature magical creatures and characters, some of which will be familiar to devoted Harry Potter fans.

“We are incredibly honored that Jo has chosen to partner with Warner Bros. on this exciting new exploration of the world of wizardry which has been tremendously successful across all of our businesses,” said Tsujihara. “She is an extraordinary writer, who ignited a reading revolution around the world, which then became an unprecedented film phenomenon. We know that audiences will be as excited as we are to see what her brilliant and boundless imagination conjures up for us.”

In addition to the film series, FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM will also be developed across the Studio’s video game, consumer products and digital initiatives businesses, including enhanced links with Pottermore.com, Rowling’s digital online experience built around the Harry Potter stories.

The Studio’s expanded partnership with Rowling also covers the continued expansion of its Harry Potter activities, including the wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks in conjunction with partner Universal Parks and Resorts (currently in Orlando, FL; opening in Hollywood, CA and Osaka, Japan), digital initiatives (including Pottermore), video games, consumer products and visitor attractions.

In addition, Warner Bros. will serve as the worldwide TV distributor (excluding the U.K.) of J.K. Rowling’s upcoming television adaptation for the BBC of THE CASUAL VACANCY, Rowling’s best-selling first novel aimed at adult audiences. This miniseries begins production in 2014.

The relationship will be managed in London by Neil Blair of The Blair Partnership, Rowling’s literary agency, and Josh Berger, President & Managing Director, Warner Bros. U.K., Ireland and Spain, who will serve as Warner Bros.’ chief business contact for all J.K. Rowling initiatives going forward.

Rowling adds,

“It all started when Warner Bros. came to me with the suggestion of turning FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM into a film. I thought it was a fun idea, but the idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of FANTASTIC BEASTS, realized by another writer was difficult. Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt. As hard-core Harry Potter fans will know, I liked him so much that I even married his grandson, Rolf, to one of my favourite characters from the Harry Potter series, Luna Lovegood.

Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world,” said Rowling. “The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway.

As I considered Warners’ proposal, an idea took shape that I couldn’t dislodge. That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film to Warner Bros. I particularly want to thank Kevin Tsujihara of Warner Bros. for his support in this project, which would not have happened without him. I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it.”

This sounds really interesting. And fun. The title is memorable, whimsical, and suggestive of high adventure.

And it also makes me wish that Warner Bros. would ask Ms. Rowling if she has a take on Wonder Woman, because you know she’d rock that right out of the park.

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Poster Materializes Out of Thin Air

When my eyeballs landed on this poster, I could hear it speaking to me. In the voice of Jack Nicholson. What was it saying?

“Wait’ll they get a load of me!”

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Holy smokes. There’s so much to process. Here’s what I got out of this poster (aside from a huge adrenaline rush):

Tennant is back! They’re crossing the streams. I’m not even finished with the Tennant episodes, but just knowing he leaves at some point makes me want him to come back.

The Bad Wolf signpost near Smith’s elbow. What could that mean? Rose is probably back (based on the fact that Billie Piper’s name is in the credits at the top of page), but how does the Bad Wolf play into it?

Side note: Yay! Billie Piper is back. “Doomsday” broke my heart and I’ve been searching for the cure. Could this be it?

Who’s that other guy walking past the exploding Dalek? He looks like Ron Perlman. Is that Ron Perlman? The credits lead me to believe it’s John Hurt, but it would be awesome if it was Ron Perlman.

How awesome would it be if they cast Ron Perlman as a Doctor?

Who is not-Ron-Perlman (from now on referred to as John Hurt) playing? A disgraced and fallen Timelord? A conscientious objector to the Time War who moved to the galactic equivalent of Canada?

How great a title is “The Day of the Doctor”? It’s almost like the anti-“The Phantom Menace” It’s like Tennant and Smith, back to kick the bad guys straight in the nether-vortex.

Some of you super-Whovians may have already uncovered the answers to the questions above. Hey, don’t wreck it for everyone else.

This is going to be monumental.

Happy 20th Anniversary To THE X-FILES

It was literally a dark and stormy night 20 years ago when I got home from my job at a mom-and-pop video store just in time to catch the pilot episode of THE X-FILES.

Having spent much of my childhood devouring library books about ghosts and Bigfoots and Loch Ness Monsters and flying saucers, it was as if Chris Carter had created it just for me. And despite a painful final season that ended as the series began, with FBI Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) left with nothing but each other in their fight against the future, its 202 episodes and two theatrical films of horror, humor, heart, science fiction, adventure, and romance have firmly earned its place in our Modern Mythology.

I got to interview Duchovny a few days before Christmas in 2003, when the DVDs were released in the United Kingdom. (Despite being severely ill, he was as hilarious and as generous an interview as anyone could ever ask for.) Almost exactly a year later, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment called out of the blue to ask for my permission to use portions of that interview in promotional materials for the DVD release in France. (My answer was an enthusiastically honored “yes.”) My X-FILES episode guides were among my favorite things I wrote for Impact (and are something I’d love to revive here at MMM), and I’m forever grateful to my editor John Mosby for making sure the Duchovny job went to me.

Then, just a little over a month ago, I attended Fandom Fest in Louisville, Kentucky to help Adrian Paul (HIGHLANDER) promote his children’s charity, the Peace Fund, which he founded to “Protect, Educate, Aid Children Everywhere.” (I’m a weekly correspondent on his Peace Fund Radio show.) Knowing of my outrageous celebrity crush on Gillian Anderson, he asked me to go with him to talk to her about how we could assist her own numerous charitable endeavors. (She browsed the Peace Fund site on my iPhone!) And so, in a moment that my 1993-self could never remotely begin to fathom, the Highlander had introduced me to Agent Scully, and my life was complete. (She was very kind and impossibly beautiful.)

Amazon Prime members can watch the entire series for free; it’s also on NetFlix. A second volume of Mark Snow’s music became available today, and IDW Publishing is three issues into its “Season 10″ comic book series (which I’ve so far found to be frustratingly inconsistent).

The Digital Bits remains at the forefront of reporting on a Blu-ray release that’s in the works, and everyone involved with the show would obviously love to do another movie, even though nothing’s currently happening (that we know about).

As for me, I still watch episodes on a regular basis, and you’re all welcome to come over any time so I can introduce you to the Season Four episode “Home.” You won’t sleep for months. Which is fine, because that’ll give you time to watch the rest of the episodes and two movies.

What does THE X-FILES mean to you? What are some of your favorite episodes?

It’s A JURASSIC WORLD On June 12, 2015

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Variety reports that Universal Pictures has given a release date for the fourth installment in the JURASSIC PARK franchise and announced a title change as well.

JURASSIC WORLD, directed by Colin Trevorrow (SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED) will be released on June 12, 2015.  Little to nothing is known of the plot, though it’s hard not to believe that the title change is a Giganotosaurus-sized clue to the nature of the story so far.  Only time will tell.

The monster that is the summer movie season of 2015 continues to grow.  Hold on to your butts…

ANT-MAN Unintimidated By World’s Finest

Marvel Studios and Disney have absolutely no fear in the superhero movie game. That was demonstrated tenfold today with the news that they are moving director Edgar Wright’s ANT-MAN up from November 6, 2015 to July 31 of the same year (source: Deadline). It is a remarkably bold move considering the caliber of super-powered competition being released just two weeks prior.

Warner Bros. is set to release its untitled Batman and Superman film, respectively starring Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill as the iconic World’s Finest, on July 17, 2015. Marvel is banking on the idea that audiences will still be hungry enough to snack on the world’s smallest superhero just 14 days after feasting on two of the world’s biggest. It sounds crazy, but there was a time when even THE AVENGERS sounded like a pipe dream.

This may very well come back to bite Marvel, but the company’s unwavering confidence in its characters and films is admirable. Box office results, critical reception, and mainstream moviegoer reaction all suggest there is far more power in the Marvel brand right now than there is in the Warner Bros./DC Entertainment brand. If Marvel is still riding this high after AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, then having ANT-MAN in closer chronological proximity can actually be a huge plus.

Time will tell, but betting against Marvel has not been a smart call thus far.

Alan Taylor In Talks To Direct TERMINATOR 5

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If, as expected, Thor makes it out of THE DARK WORLD alive, he’ll be kept busy when he rejoins The Avengers in AGE OF ULTRON. Now, the director of the THOR sequel, Alan Taylor, may have found his next adventure. Variety reports Taylor is in talks to direct the fifth installment of the TERMINATOR franchise.

In light of the occasional, inexplicable comments that THOR: THE DARK WORLD is in some kind of trouble, consider this a vote of confidence in what Taylor has accomplished in his first venture into franchise filmmaking. Paramount Pictures is very eager to resurrect the cybernetic franchise after it stalled with TERMINATOR: SALVATION in 2009. Paramount has more to gain from TERMINATOR since acquiring Warner Bros. Pictures’ share of the pie as part of the deal that allowed WB to say in the Christopher Nolan business for INTERSTELLAR.

It is unlikely that Paramount would have much faith in Taylor unless the studio was hearing good things about THOR: TDW. Typically, Marvel is not known for brining directors back to direct sequels, as Jon Favreau (IRON MAN) and Joss Whedon (MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS) have proven to be exceptions, not the rule. With that in mind, it is wise for Taylor to lineup another big franchise for a major studio and continue flexing his directorial muscle.

From Batman to Superman to the Avengers and Beyond! Our Heroes. Our Mythology.