Friday Round Up: Simon Pegg Turns on Us

Here’s a weird take on zombie movies. It’s called Cooties and it’s about teachers defending themselves against zombified students. I kind of like that subversive take on the (at least perceived) battle between students and their teachers. It’s by Leigh Wannell (co-creator of Saw) and Ian Brennan (co-creator of Glee). What a strange pedigree. Would you watch this in the theater or is it a rental? Or just wait for Netflix or HBO or something?

Read on to see the latest news about Marvel erasing the Fantastic Four and X-Men, Walking Dead‘s Robert Kirkman joining the next Transformers movie, Simon Pegg, of all people, saying that sci-fi movies are infantilizing us, and food based on Human Centipede. Comic book casting news, Harry Potter author JK Rowling freaking out about Neville Longbottom in his underwear, DC Comics suing Rihanna, a Game of Thrones musical by Coldplay, and a lot more. Plus, who is Marvel and Sony thinking of for Norman Osborn?

MOVIES

Paramount recently announced they were going to hire a “writer’s room” to generate ideas for new Transformers movies and spinoffs. This week, they named four writers to handle independent development. One of those guys? Robert “Walking Dead” Kirkman. Wow. He’s getting riiiiiich. Okay, here are two videos of Optimus Prime killing things. In one he rips Megatron’s head off. In another he murders Frasier. I wish someone would edit together all the clips of Optimus Prime in the movies shouting stuff like “Die!” and “Kill them all!” It really shows how well Michael Bay knows the character. After the video is a short Kirkman/Transformers/Robot’s Pajamas story.

So, quick story: Before Kirkman became SUPER successful, we were pals. I mean, we’re still friendly but I never get to talk to him anymore. Maybe just see him once or twice a year at a convention. That’s just background. Okay, so about two years ago, I sold all my Transformers to Vincent, the owner of this website. When Kirkman found out, he flipped out and said he wanted to buy them all for his kids. Ah well, I’m sure he’ll be able to afford plenty of Transformers toys now.

crossbones in captain america civil war

Above is a set photo of actor Frank Grillo from Captain America: Civil War. Seems like that’s the cinematic version of Crossbones. Overall, I like it. The Crossbones in the comics basically runs around in a pro wrestling mask and this is more tactical. But then, it may also protect his body which was burned pretty horribly in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Not sure what those power gauntlets are. Speculate away. Also, Mark Ruffalo tweeted that he’s joined the movie. That means that Civil War will feature WAY more superheroes than any of the Avengers movies. Confirmed heroes appearing will include: Cap, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Falcon, Black Panther, Ant-Man and Spider-Man. I think War Machine is in it, too. And Winter Soldier. Look, basically just everyone except Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

mcconaughey is angry

In related Marvel movie news, the current rumor is that Asa Butterfield (Hugo, Ender’s Game) will end up playing a teenage Peter Parker/Spider-Man for a rebooted movie as well as appearances in other Marvel movies, like the previously mentioned Captain America: Civil War. But there’s also another rumor: Matthew McConaughey as Norman Osborn. I could see this being a very important role, almost as important as Spider-Man. In the comics, Norman Osborn was not just the Green Goblin, but the government appointed leader of SHIELD, the Avengers and Thunderbolts which he used as his personal black ops teams. He was treated as one of the top-tier Big Bads that affected all the superheroes, not just Spidey. So Marvel may have a vested interest in hiring someone who could play a recurring villain like Loki. If it’s true (McConaughey has said he’s recently been circling some big offers from both DC and Marvel) I think it could work very well. If you’ve seen True Detective or Dallas Buyers Club, you know McConaughey has the chops.

rocksteady krang and bebop movie designs

Voice actor Gary Anthony Williams was cast as Bebop in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2. He’s the one that was mutated with a boar. No word yet on who’s playing Rocksteady. But there is a rumor going around that Krang will also appear. Krang has probably had more distinct versions than any other TMNT character. In the original comics, there was a race of Krang-looking aliens called Utroms. But they really weren’t villains. They were responsible for creating the mutagen that transformed Splinter and the Turtles. Then in the cartoon, Krang was a cranky brain from Dimension X who sat in the belly of a bare-chested, bald robot. In the 2003 cartoon, the Utroms were peaceful except for Ch’rell who fooled the world into thinking he was a human named Oroku Saki/The Shredder. In the current IDW series, Krang is a warlord from Dimension X from a race of Utroms. But in the current Nickelodeon cartoon, the Kraang are a race of brains from Dimension X. They’re all called Kraang.

The above video is Chris Pratt describing stuntwork on Jurassic World. Sort of. Really, he’s just being a big ‘ol silly. That’s why he’s our newest National Treasure.

Mad Max Fury Road cars

There’s all sorts of Mad Max rumors. The one thing we can be pretty sure of, because it comes straight from writer/director George Miller is that there will be a sequel and it will probably be called Mad Max: Wasteland. It might be a prequel. But he explained on the Q & A with Jeff Goldsmith podcast that he already has a full screenplay that he developed while Fury Road dealt with various delays. Tom Hardy is signed to do up to three more. On a related note, this deep-dive review of the themes and character arcs from the movie is fantastic. It really details how George Miller subverts genre expectations throughout. Spoilers in it for the movie and the most recent Game of Thrones episode.

COMIC BOOKS

mad max dave johnson art

There are two Mad Max comics that just came out. DC is publishing them through its Vertigo imprint. The first is 144 pages full of artwork by artists like Dave Johnson (pictured above) and Simon Bisley and Tara McPherson. Just tons of fantastic artists inspired by the movies and world of Mad Max. The other is a 40-page prequel, co-written by George Miller, about Nux and Immortan Joe. Kind of fleshes out Joe’s rise to power and who his War Boys are. Looks good!

Secret Wars edited artwork

Marvel has become pretty weird about how it uses X-Men and Fantastic Four. There was a time they were EXCITED to have a movie like X2 out. But now that they produce their own movies, especially now that they’re part of Disney, Marvel Comics is very reluctant to promote their characters that 20th Century Fox has the film rights to. The characters are still around in the comics, but the X-Men are supposedly not allowed to add any new characters and Fantastic Four has been canceled for now. But here’s where Marvel gets really passive aggressive: licensing its own characters. Above is a new t-shirt based on the original Secret Wars comics from 1984, alongside the comic cover. Notice any difference? The Fantastic Four and X-Men characters have been literally erased. The old Marvel logo has removed characters like Storm and Wolverine and replaced them with Hawkeye and Wonder Man. By the way, Wonder Man didn’t even appear in Secret Wars. Why is the villain Bulldozer flying through the air if Thing isn’t punching him? Why is there a line of flame if there’s no Human Torch? Doesn’t matter. I feel like it’s kind of disrespectful to fans like myself that fondly remember those comics as well as to artist Mike Zeck. Anyone reading the current Secret Wars?

walking dead artist's proof edition - tony moore

If you are a fan of original Walking Dead artist Tony Moore (you should be), you will probably be interested in the upcoming release of Walking Dead #1 Artist’s Proof Edition. It hits stands on August 26th for $19.99. It will be published at 11″x 17″, the actual size of the artwork that Tony created and it will be pure black and white inked pages, no greyscale tones (which Tony actually did in PhotoShop for issue 1). You should also check out Tony’s art store. He does some really gorgeously detailed pieces on chipboard regularly.

rihanna and robin

Can you tell the difference?

Singer Rihanna’s actual birth name is Robyn. She wants to create an online general interest magazine called Robyn. DC Comics filed a Notice of Opposition to the Trademark application, alleging a general interest magazine and a teen sidekick to Batman are “identical and/or highly related” and that the audience (anyone who is alive?) would confuse the two. If DC wins that one, singer Robyn better watch out.

death of snake eyes

By the way, I heard that Snake Eyes was killed off in the recent G.I. Joe comics written by Larry Hama and published by IDW. What’s up with that?!

CELEBS

simon pegg as scotty

Simon Pegg has made a pretty successful career for himself including lots of roles in genre films: Shaun of the Dead, Mission: Impossible, Star Trek. The list goes on. Which make his recent comments all the more strange. In a recent interview with the Radio Times, he said:

Obviously I’m very much a self-confessed fan of science fiction and genre cinema but part of me looks at society as it is now and just thinks we’ve been infantilised by our own taste. Now we’re essentially all consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes. Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously.

It is a kind of dumbing down, in a way, because it’s taking our focus away from real-world issues. Films used to be about challenging, emotional journeys or moral questions that might make you walk away and re-evaluate how you felt about … whatever.

Now we’re walking out of the cinema really not thinking about anything, other than the fact that the Hulk just had a fight with a robot.

Do you agree? I kind of don’t. There’s always been dumb movies. Sure, B-movies used to have small or modest budgets and these days something like Fast & Furious gets 200 million, but I think we know what we’re getting there. Escapism is okay sometimes. But I disagree that that’s the only kind of film being made. There’s been plenty of smart sci-fi lately (Mad Max: Fury Road, Interstellar) but also plenty of dramas that explore meaningful elements of the human condition or history: Birdman, Selma, The Imitation Game, Boyhood, Whiplash… those are just some of the more prominent recent films that got nominated for Oscars. Have you signed into Amazon Prime or Netflix lately? Tons of fantastic documentaries, indie films and foreign pictures. Yeah, Marvel is really successful right now. But they aren’t the only game in town. I still like Simon Pegg. He’s funny and smart. He loves zombies and spies and space. I just don’t know why he thinks society has lowered its tastes right now. At the end of the day, Hollywood is a business. Any art that comes out of it is a bonus. So until Simon Pegg is ready to stop popping up in Star Trek (and probably Star Wars), maybe he should consider that his words come across a bit hypocritical.

Real quick, Simon Pegg was also interviewed this week by The Guardian about why Roberto Orci’s script and directing duties for Star Trek 3 were hastily jettisoned for Pegg’s input on the script and Fast & Furious director Justin Lin. But why? Well, Pegg claims the studio felt the original idea was “too Star Trek-y” and continued:

Avengers Assemble, which is a pretty nerdy, comic-book, supposedly niche thing, made $1.5bn dollars. Star Trek Into Darkness made half a billion, which is still brilliant. But it means that, according to the studio, there’s still $1bn worth of box office that don’t go and see Star Trek. And they want to know why.

People don’t see it being a fun, brightly coloured, Saturday night entertainment like the Avengers,” adding that the solution was to “make a western or a thriller or a heist movie, then populate that with Star Trek characters so it’s more inclusive to an audience that might be a little bit reticent”.

You know what? While the decision to try to make something reach more people for business reasons is kinda terrible, I also think Star Trek is versatile enough for the strategy to work. The show has done its take on Westerns and Spies and so on. So who knows, it may not be as hard sci-fi but it may still be very entertaining.

Does anyone here remember when Jaden Smith went to the Kanye West/Kim Kardashian wedding dressed as Batman (painted white)? Well, he must really be into that costume. Because he wore it to his high school prom. On the one hand, it’s cool that he loves Batman. On the other, he appears to be a total weirdo. I guess you don’t need to be well-adjusted when you grow up a millionaire. Celebrities: they’re just like us!

matthew lewis poses for attitude magazine

Actor Matthew Lewis played Harry Potter’s dorkiest friend, Neville Longbottom, in all of the Harry Potter movies. But the actor kinda grew up to be a ripped, gorgeous dude. He recently posed in his underwear for a British magazine and author JK Rowling saw it and slightly lost her mind. She tweeted at Matthew saying “Not as bad as seeing Dan in Equus, but close. Warn me next time for God’s sake.” Equus is a play about a horse, but more importantly Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe does a scene in it in the nude. Sorry, JK, your kids is grown up, yo!

TOYS

Alex Ross JLA Figures

DC Direct has a new line of their heroes based on Alex Ross designs. The above six-pack will be out in September for $95. I’ve never picked up any DC Direct or Marvel Legends figures. How do they compare? The only figures I get are Hot Toys Avengers. Like this new one for only $220:

hot toys vision

FOOD

human centipede burger

The above food atrocity is called Martin’s Revenge and is inspired by the Human Centipede movies. Martin was the bad guy in the second one, I think. Just what you want to think of while eating: people’s mouths sewn to other people’s buttholes. It’s the new featured burger from Zombie Burger, a Des Moines, Iowa burger joint. Here’s how they describe it: a three-piece slider bun, with a different burger in each segment. The first burger is steak with cheddar, bacon and red raw onion. The second is a burger patty with American cheese, pulled barbecue bacon and sauteed red onion. The third burger is a loose meat sandwich with house-made cheese whiz and bacon-red onion jam.Would you eat this?

GAMES

gta game changer

Rockstar Games has filed a lawsuit against the BBC. The BBC is filming a TV movie about Rockstar Games’ popular Grand Theft Auto video games, titled Game Changer, and the fight they had with moral crusaders like Jack Thompson. Bill Paxton is playing Thompson and Daniel Radcliffe is playing Rockstar co-founder Sam Houser. It’s an interesting story about some media-shy guys that created a really fun game. But Rockstar has had no input in it and are suing to protect its intellectual property. They argue they’ve tried to work with the BBC but nothing’s happened so they’re trying to stop the movie. If the BBC wants to proceed, they’ll have to settle this one quickly. And with the star power they’ve lined up, I’d think they’d be inclined to. But maybe their lawyers think they have their bases covered. The behind-the-scenes story about the movie could end up being as interesting as the movie.

TV

Over in England, they have an annual charity called Red Nose Day where they have all sorts of TV programs and the day is a bit of a telethon. It’s designed to raise money for children living in poverty. NBC and some other organizations are trying to make it a thing in the U.S. this year. You can donate here. The above video is one of the pieces of content developed this year and its pretty funny. It involves Coldplay trying to make a Game of Thrones musical with the cast, but creator George RR Martin won’t sign off on it.

  • William Bruce West

    Great post, as always. I also liked how we actually avoided the same topics this week :-)

    As for Marvel removing the X-Men and FF from the shirt, I just don’t find it as offensive as most. In most cases, I find it petty, yet funny, but it doesn’t really offend me. I can kind of see where they’re coming from, from a business standpoint.

    DC Direct figures look nice, but they’re fragile. The Ross figures tend to be pretty sturdy because his models are built like 50s bodybuilders and that translates to the figures. The thinner figures, however, can be brittle. A lot of them break right out of the package. When I worked at Diamond, I was told that this happened because the figures were packaged before the plastic had fully cooled. Considering that they tend to cost about $20 per figure, that’s not a bad price for that set.

  • Chris Piers

    I’ll stick with my ludicrously priced Hot Toys.

  • Hdawger

    I’ve been waiting for more information on “Cooties” since it was shown at Sundance last year (Hell, may have even been 2 years ago). Lionsgate sure did sit on that movie for a good long time.

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