Archive for April 3, 2020
A writer from the popular Adult Swim series Rick and Morty has been tapped by Marvel to pen the script for Ant-Man 3. In a universe populated by Norse Gods like, enhanced super soldiers, and space aliens, the Ant-Man films have served as something like counter-programming within the MCU. The small-scale adventures of Scott Lang have provided an alternative to the epic-scale Avengers films. Many have also applauded the levity Paul Rudd brings to the role and the entire MCU.
The first Ant-Man didn't debut until 2015, following the success of Avengers: Age of Ultron. After a scene-stealing appearance in Captain America: Civil War, the character was surprisingly absent from Avengers: Infinity War. However, his second solo film, Ant-Man and The Wasp, explained his absence and set the stage for his subsequent return in Avengers: Endgame. After that, there was a period of uncertainty as to whether Ant-Man 3 would be produced, but last fall saw the news that director Peyton Reed would be returning for a third entry in the adventures of Scott Lang (and presumably Evangeline Lily's Wasp and Michael Douglas's Hank Pym).
Though Ant-Man 3 is currently without an official release date, Marvel Studios is making moves to keep the ball rolling on the pint-sized misadventures of Lang and the gang. According to THR, Marvel has hired Rick and Morty writer and co-producer Jeff Loveness to craft the script for the next chapter in the Ant-Man saga. The deal was reportedly signed just as Hollywood was first being impacted by the coronavirus, and Loveness is already hard at work on the script.
Rick and Morty is one of the most popular shows on cable today, with its crass sense of humor underscored by deep pathos and richly developed characters. It quickly became one of Adult Swim's most critically-acclaimed cartoons, so it makes sense why Marvel would want one of its creative minds working on their project. In addition to Rick and Morty, Loveness has experience in the Marvel field, having written numerous comics involving characters such as Nova, Groot, and the Inhumans, among others.
It's too early to even speculate what the plot of Ant-Man 3 might entail or when it will release. Traditionally, Ant-Man films have released in the immediate wake of an Avengers team-up movie, but there aren't any immediate plans for an Avengers 5, at least not within the next several years. Regardless of that scheduling mystery, which will inevitably sort itself out in due course, Loveness seems like the perfect choice for Ant-Man 3. While most MCU movies have a strong streak of comedy within them, the Ant-Man series is known for being especially funny. With his comic book and comedy background, Loveness is surely well prepared to write the next chapter in the Ant-Man story.
When a comic book fan hears the word butler, one person immediately jumps to mind; Bruce Wayne's ever-faithful butler and father figure, Alfred Pennyworth. Despite his undying loyalty to the Wayne family, this compassionate caretaker actually once turned his back on Bruce and Gotham as he served a different master. Believe it or not, Detective Comics #356 had Alfred in the role of the supervillain.
After the murder of Martha and Thomas Wayne, Alfred stepped in to take care of a young Bruce and serve as his legal guardian. Although he spent most of his life working for the Waynes and raising Bruce, Alfred lived quite an interesting life beforehand. Before serving the Wayne family, Alfred spent time as a classically trained actor in Britain. Aside from his artistic side, Alfred's past experience also shows he packs a punch as he also previously served as a Special Operations Executive operative, making him for more lethal than your typical butler. While he is technically a servant of Bruce, he serves more as a father figure and best friend, always there to take care of Bruce when dealing with the hardships that come along with being Batman. His dry wit and sarcastic humor always provide comic relief in the otherwise dark world of Batman, but when it is time to get serious, Alfred is no laughing matter.
So how exactly does the man who took care of the caped crusader switch over to the side of evil? When two coffins arrive at the Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne, and Dick Grayson open them to a surprise. They discover the coffins contain robotic wax copies of themselves in their super suits, and the wax copies rise up to tell them that they will each die within the hour. Bruce and Dick immediately change into their Batman and Robin outfits in order to set out to solve the mystery of who sent the robots, frightened even further by the fact the culprit seems fully aware of their secret identities. Upon catching up with the delivery truck, the duo quickly discovers the drivers to be members of the Grasshopper Gang, and a group of thugs they battled with last time they encountered the supervillain known as The Outsider. Once the gang is defeated, Batman and Robin rush back to the Batcave to test the fingerprints they just found, only to discover a shocking truth. The Outsider's fingerprints are a perfect match to Alfred's, a man the two recently buried.
The comic shifts to a flashback, returning to the fateful day Alfred died and revisiting his funeral. It is in this flashback that it is revealed that Alfred wasn't quite as dead as everyone thought. It turns out that scientist Brandon Crawford discovers Alfred is simply in a deep coma and takes him back to his lab to try and revive him. Unfortunately, the revival goes terribly wrong, and the radiation blasts that are meant to save Alfred end up transforming him into the villain The Outsider. This mutation ultimately leads to this evil version of Alfred trying to kill Batman and Robin, bringing us back to where the comic left off.
Batman and Robin bust into The Outsider's lair, but time is not on their side. The clock is ticking, and the two of them are slowly morphing into coffins (yes, they seriously are literally turning into coffins by the second). Luckily, the two of them are able to overcome The Outsider, and, by bombarding him with the very same radiation that transformed him, Batman and Robin are able to return Alfred back to his normal self. The dynamic duo nurse Alfred back to health, but they decide to not tell Alfred what happened as they are afraid the thought of him being evil and trying to kill those he loved would just be too much for him.
So while it is short-lived, Alfred did technically try to once kill the very same man he raised from childhood. Regardless of this quick tussle, Bruce's faith in Alfred is never diminished, allowing Alfred to carry on as the Batcave butler everyone has come to know and love.
It's Always Sunny In Moscow is a Russian remake of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia that fails to recapture the show's unique humor. It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia revolves around the Paddy's Pub gang, consisting of twins Dee and Dennis, Charlie, Mac, and Frank. While the show is technically a sitcom revolving around the gang's various misadventures, it's a good deal darker than something like Friends. The gang are all cruel, selfish, and sometimes downright evil and the series loves prodding various taboos for uncomfortable humor.
It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia was nearly canned after its first season, but after Danny DeVito joined up in season 2, it evolved from a cult favorite to a beloved show. The series has now run an incredible fourteen seasons and counting and is still receiving strong reviews. The show has slowed down in recent years as the cast have worked on other projects, such as Glenn Howerton leading A.P. Bio or Rob McElhenney starring in his co-created series Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet. While season 15 isn't confirmed, it feels like a given.
Foreign remakes of American TV shows are nothing new, with India producing an acclaimed big-budget 24 remake while Columbia remade Breaking Bad as Metastasis in 2014. Remaking a comedy for another country can be a very tricky task, however, as sometimes the humor of a particular show doesn't translate well. This would be a particularly tough task in the case of the dark humor of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, which was reinvented for Russian viewers as It's Always Sunny In Moscow.
It's Always Sunny In Moscow is essentially a shot for shot redo of various It's Always Sunny In Philidelphia episodes. Instead of Paddy's Pub, they work in a bar called Philadelphia - which is easily the best gag - and all the characters follow closely to their counterparts from the original show. While It's Always Sunny In Moscow might reuse the same scripts, the results fall horribly flat. Like That '70s Show's UK remake Days Like These or even Gus Van Sant's infamous Psycho redo proved, just copy and pasting the same dialogue and camera shots and hoping for the same results doesn't work.
That's what makes It's Always Sunny In Moscow so surreal. It's so close to the setup of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, but there's something about the performances and execution that feels off. It's not really the actor's fault since recreating the dynamic of the Philadelphia cast would be near impossible, but Moscow's doppelganger characters are charmless compared to the real deal. It's Always Sunny In Moscow also diluted some of the original show's darker humor, so outside of a curiosity watch to see how closely it follows its American counterpart, it's best avoided.
Netflix original horror movie, The Ritual, channeled some of the darker, more terrifying elements of Norse mythology through its introduction of a terrifying creature known as the Jötunn.
The Ritual premiered in 2017 and was directed by David Bruckner. The film starred Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, and Sam Troughton. Drawing elements from The Blair Witch Project, and The Witch, The Ritual fits easily in the folk horror space, which has gone on to see more success with hits like Ari Aster's Midsommar and 2020's Gretel & Hansel, which managed to get mixed reviews from audiences and critics. Folk horror is an intriguing space, traditionally led by haunting cinematography, slow-burn terror, and an interesting story. In The Ritual, a group of friends are traveling for a hiking trip in Sweden after their friend's sudden death during a robbery; they make the trip in his memory, since they had discussed going right before his death.
While certainly not a traditional creature feature, The Ritual explores traditional elements of Norse mythology through its Jötunn and adapts more of a spooky, ethereal feel than giant monsters typically produce in films like Troll or even more B-list hits like Anaconda and Lake Placid. Such is the draw of folk horror, but it certainly begs the question of the myth's roots and how it differs from the tale presented by Bruckner's movie.
As the group of friends make their way into the woods for their hiking trip, they make the mistake that many people have been making in horror movies since the dawn of time: they stray from the marked trails and venture into unknown territory. Soon after, they start seeing everything from strange markings on trees and dead animals that have been ravaged and hung from the trees. It's bone-chilling, and certainly does not provide any semblance of security for the viewer, nor the friends as they start experiencing odd phenomena - nightmares, visions of a strange, horned figure in the trees, and even physical harm that leads to death.
Eventually, they discover that the creature in the woods - who is connected to the macabre effigy they discovered of a decapitated person built from branches with antlers for hands - is worshipped by a cult and given sacrifices so they can sustain immortality in return. According to the cult, the being they worship is the Jötunn, a bastard son of Loki. While it's certainly not uncommon for Gods throughout various pantheons to engage in behaviors that result in any number of strange offspring, Loki is particularly well-known for being a trickster in Norse mythology as well as a shapeshifter. Because of this, it's no surprise that his offspring would be odd and even malevolent, as Loki is often depicted as working against both Gods and humanity as it suits him.
In Norse mythology, a Jötunn is a little different. Most commonly, they are known as a species of giants who are marked with having superior strength and the advantage of massive size to bolster said strength. They are not quite like the spindly, antlered beast in The Ritual. If anything, they are more similar to dwarves or trolls. However, they are also a varied species, with some being the same height as humans. Jötunn are nature spirits, set apart from the Vanir and Æsir. Despite this tendency not to side with the traditional Gods of the Norse pantheon, some of the Gods are descendants of the Jötunn, including Odin and Thor. The Jötunn are some of the oldest beings in the Nine Worlds, and the stories about them frequently represent man's often tumultuous relationship with nature, a common theme in folk horror like The Ritual, as it is a place where legend, tradition, and the modern world often collide.