Sam Flynn’s 7: Pop Culture News from March 16-23

My weekly analysis of pop culture news, trues, and lose(ers).

7. X-Files limited series revival? 

This week, a ton of good news for TV, which ties in to an upcoming Slogged column I’m writing about the future of visual storytelling. In that trend, FOX is considering a 6-10 episode limited series revival of The X-Files. The fascinating thing about today’s media landscape is that things that would not have happened 10 years ago are now possibilities.

The last X-Files film, 2008’s I Want to Believe, bombed and disappointed fans by focusing on an original (and not very compelling) mystery and introducing Xzibit as an FBI agent. The franchise was dead. But in an era of revivals and reunions (Arrested Development, 24, Heroes, Twin Peaks etc.), suddenly The X-Files has a second (third?fourth?) life, 7 years after the last film, 12 after the series ended and 23 after it premiered. Longevity has a new meaning in today’s media.

6. Community returns 

Speaking of longevity, the first two episodes of the sixth season of cult comedy Community premiered on their new provider – Yahoo! – after NBC cancelled it last May. Check ’em out, they’re awesome.

5. HBO-gasm: True Detective, Game of Thrones

People seem surprised that an orgy will happen on the second season of True Detective. Reports last week noted that two porn stars – who ironically did not have to appear naked on the show – were on set alongside stars Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams for a “massive orgy” scene. This is a show which had McConaughey pontificate on the fruitlessness of life and somehow tits and ass are more scandalous? Am I the only one who got an erection when McConaughey said “Time’s like a flat circle”?

The season also  features Vince Vaughn (hoping to pull a McConaissance after his last five films bombed) and Taylor Kitsch (ditto ditto). The storyline is said to focus on the occult history of Californian transportation system and will double-down on the maybe-magic-maybe-mundane/flat-out weird elements that enthralled fans to come up with elaborate theories creator Nic Pizzolatto had to debunk before the finale, lest they be disappointed by their imagined conclusions. In this vein, we can expect S&M clubs, Satanic murders, and further verbosity on the futility of existence.

Also, the showrunners of the network’s juggernaut Game of Thrones – David Benioff and D.B. Weiss – reported on by DarkHorizons originally from Vanity Fair covering the Oxford Union – confirmed the long-dreaded truth – that watching the show from here on will spoil the books. The show, which has diverted more and more from its source material A Song of Ice and Fire every season, is currently on the turning point between published material and unpublished material. Benioff said:

“Luckily, we’ve been talking about this with George for a long time, ever since we saw this could happen, and we know where things are heading. And so we’ll eventually, basically, meet up at pretty much the same place where George is going; there might be a few deviations along the route, but we’re heading towards the same destination. I kind of wish that there were some things we didn’t have to spoil, but we’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. The show must go on… and that’s what we’re going to do.”

But Benioff also said that conversations with series author George R.R. Martin have given them confidence reading the books will still pack the same punch, only with more detail and deviations.

“I think the thing that’s kind of fun for George is the idea that he can still have surprises for people even once they’ve watched the show through to the conclusion. There are certain things that are going to happen in the books that are different in the show, and I think people who love the show and want more- want to know more about the characters, want to know more about the different characters who might not have made the cut for the show – will be able to turn to the books.”

4. Abrams sought to return for Star Wars: Episode IX? 

Despite reports Abrams and Disney experienced friction while speeding to make the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, Latino-Review says execs are now said to be so impressed with the film’s progress that they made overtures about to Abrams’ camp about returning to helm the final installment in the new trilogy, Episode IX, slated for a 2019 release.

Rian Johnson (Looper) has been lined up to direct the sequel to Abrams’ film and the rumor is only a surprise because of the aforementioned friction and Abrams’ absence from other developments in the new Star Wars ‘verse, overseen by Kathleen Kennedy.

Abrams and his Bad Robot cohorts has been at the top of the Hollywood geek mountain for over a decade. But their Mystery Box approach – Benedict Cumberbatch was Khan, guys – to storytelling has clashed with the modern culture of guys like me who want to know – and, indeed, want their job to be – about talking and reporting on movies, TV and pop culture and, supposedly, the folks at Disney. However, there’s no denying Abrams’ populist approach to filmmaking makes him the modern day Spielberg of spectacle movies. It’s what got him the job in the first place after explicitly saying he wouldn’t take it.

It’ll be a while before we hear anything on this as I guarantee Abrams makes another personal film a la Super 8 next. Who can blame him? It’s not exactly a stress-free environment making two of the biggest sci-fi sequels in the world in a row.

3. Mission: Impossible 5 gets a ‘Rogue’ subtitle, trailer

It’s been a long time coming after Paramount moved the fifth installment of the “Tom Cruise runs shirtless” spy franchise up 6 months to avoid the Star Wars juggernaut, but we finally have an official title, poster, and trailer. Rogue Nation revolves around Cruise’s Ethan Hunt reuniting his team (Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames) with newcomer Rebecca Ferguson after IMF is shut down to combat the Syndicate, described as an “anti-IMF.” The film hits July 31.

The trailer’s pretty good though the music could be punchier. An evil counterpart to the IMF is a cool premise. It has a less Renner than I like but Cruise as always is magnetic, the cast is superb, and McQuarrie (Academy Award winner for Original Screenplay for 1995’s The Usual Suspects) is a well-known and respected screenwriter-turned-director as well as good friend of Cruise (they made the excellent Valkyrie and Jack Reacher together)

In a hilarious bit of corporate entanglement, Bob Iger announced the title of the first Star Wars spinoff, Rogue One, last week. Turns out, a bit of legal mumbo jumbo had to be taken care of so a pissing match didn’t start between the films. The deal states that – outside of next months’ Star Wars Celebration – no reference can be made to consumers about the rogue (ha!) Star Wars film until after the summer season. In a bit more entanglement, J.J. Abrams, director of the third Mission: Impossible film, has exec produced the last two films as well. The Abrams Black Hole is beginning to consume itself.

Speaking of title disputes, it’s time we take this and retire overused terms. Nothing rises or dawns unless its the sun.

2. Avengers: Age of Ultron spoilers and Captain America: Civil War rumors

Collider published the synopsis and start date for the third Captain America film and first film in Phase 3 of the MCU, Civil War. That’s below. Filming begins April 1 and extras are currently being sought.

Following the events of Age of Ultron, the collective governments of the world pass an act designed to regulate all superhuman activity. This polarizes opinion amongst the Avengers, causing two factions to side with Iron Man or Captain America, which causes an epic battle between former allies.

Badass Digest’s Devin Faraci followed up on that and a Bleeding Cool story that purported to know the full list of heroes to jump in the fight between Chris Evans’ Cap and Robert Downey, Jr.’s Iron Man. You can check out both are your leisure but Faraci makes a good case why the list is bullshit and proceeds to let loose a glut of spoiler, rumor, and speculation on Marvel’s upcoming Phase 3.

To summarize, Thor and Hulk will be out of the picture by the end of the Age of Ultron, and the Avengers themselves disbanded, with Cap recruiting a new team comprised of Black Widow, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, The Vision, and, in an early draft of the screenplay, Captain Marvel (that heroine’s film is scheduled for November 2018). Iron Man will be officially retired and Hawkeye will presumably be underutilized yet again. In addition, recurring rumors of an Avenger death has pointed this time to newbie Quicksilver. Faraci notes that Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character did in fact die in an earlier draft of the screenplay, but, with revisions, survived in the shooting draft.

Either way, Marvel is playing the long game unlike any other studio in town. It knows its primary players’ contracts are up soon; the Avengers we’ve known over the first two films will be largely absent from the third Avengers film, Infinity War – Part 1. Captain America is speculated to bite it at the end of the Civil War a la the comics and Thor will supposedly be either dead or imprisoned after the events of his next solo outing, 2017’s Ragnarok. Meanwhile, the Hulk is set to disappear. Most likely place? Outer space, for a possible meet-up with the Guardians of the Galaxy and almost certainly a rendition of Planet Hulk that everyone keeps denying will happen. Yeah, right.

UPDATE 3/23: Faraci did it again, being the first to report on Badass Digest that Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War helmers Anthony & Joe Russo have closed a deal to direct the next Avengers films, the two-part Infinity War coming 2018 and 2019. A long shoot is planned starting sometime in 2016.

SIDENOTE: (In reference to the first lines of Faraci’s Infinity War story) I want the career where I’m talking on the phone with a Marvel source and get the opportunity to break Avengers news. It’s not really even a high goal, but it’s a goal.

1. Reeves, Carrey, Momoa in The Bad Batch

So Neo, Ace Ventura, and Aquaman as Texan cannibals? Okkkkk.

Ana Lily Amirpour’s new film has recruited Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey, Jason Momoa, and Diego Luna, Suki Waterhouse as part of a “Texas cannibal love story.” Filming is already set to begin next month.

Okkkkkk.

This sounds just so freaking weird that it demands to be seen. Carrey doesn’t do a ton of projects and Reeves has been a tear after last year’s action throwback John Wick. He’s next up in Sundance horror flick Knock Knock and recently signed up for Nicholas Winding Refn (Drive)’s upcoming The Neon Demon. He’s also attached to a sequel to John Wick and developing the action series “Rain” for Cinemax, in what would be his first regular television role.

Carrey was last seen in Dumb & Dumber To, but his star has faded fast the last decade. That said, I have no idea what to expect from him or this role, which is a great sign after a series of disappointments (The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Kick-Ass 2, Dumb & Dumber To). Even better, Carrey plays a character named the Hermit while Reeves plays the Dream. I have no idea what that means but it’s a good sign.

About Sam Flynn

Wasting oxygen since 1992, Sam thanks the gods he doesn't believe in everyday his parents didn't discard him as an infant. It would have been the sensible thing to do.
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