Dark Phoenix is billed as the “culmination of nearly 20 years of the X-Men franchise,” but what a confusing bumpy roller coaster that story has been.
Dark Phoenix is billed as the “culmination of nearly 20 years of the X-Men franchise,” but what a confusing bumpy roller coaster that story has been.
20th Century Fox has delayed X-Men: Dark Phoenix into 2019, along with its planned X-Men spin-off The New Mutants.
Yesterday the movie news cycle was hit by a juggernaut of a reveal. Apparently, behind closed doors, Disney has been negotiating to buy 21st Century Fox. The motivations why are obvious. In recent years the House of Mouse picked up those itty bitty Star Wars and Marvel franchises and the last remaining fragments of both movie universes are still lingering over at Fox (oh and they also added Avatar to Disney World and guess which studio owns that). Obviously, Fox isn’t too keen to give up their big fish properties, so the logical solution for a massive multibillion-dollar organization like Disney is to just buy Fox outright and keep the spoils. And before you think it, yes there has subsequently been word released that this deal is no longer in negotiations. But hey, the last time something like this happened was when the Sony email leaks revealed information about a deal for Spider-man. It was immediately announced in the fallout that the deal was no longer happening and then guess what happened? This seems similar. A deal so big neither company wants it to be scrutinized by the press before completion. It’s likely still happening and it’s also likely not a bad thing.
It almost goes without saying that the lynchpin to this whole deal is the fact that Fox still owns the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four universes, huge Marvel properties that aren’t under Disney control. Obviously, Marvel would like to have that back. Folding the X-Men and Deadpool into their big ol’ MCU sure would open up additional franchise possibilities that are too good to ignore (not to mention the fact that the Kevin Feige would undoubtedly be able to finally make a decent Fantastic Four movie, which Fox simply can’t seem to pull off). However, it also comes with a big caveat. In recent years, Fox has been willing to embrace R-rated superhero stories and in Deadpool and Logan delivered two massive hits that pushed the limits of the genre in intriguing ways. Obviously, R-rated adult entertainments aren’t exactly Disney’s specialty and if anything, could sour the reputation of the company’s “all family all the time” approach to entertainment. It’s a worry, yet not one worth getting too concerned over.
Here’s the thing, Disney buying Fox wouldn’t just be for the properties. They want the logo too. Fox is an established brand, one obviously willing to do more mature entertainment than anything that could appear with a Disney logo. It’s a lucrative market and one that Disney could continue to profit from. They could still make Fox movies for Fox audiences (including the semi-indie Fox Searchlight offshoot) funded by Disney with that parent logo nowhere in sight. If that sounds insane, well it’s not exactly new. Touchstone was a company that Disney created in the 80s entirely for that purpose and one that did well producing and releasing movies that Disney never would have touched under their typical brand like Alive, The Ref, Ed Wood, The Rock, Rushmore, and Starship Troopers. Fox could be operated the same way. They could be a division where Deadpool keeps being filthy, yet can also pull in characters like the Hulk or Iron Man to indulge in his deeply filthy ways. A place where a more mature and R-rated Logan style movie could be made out of other Marvel characters as well. It would actually be a boon for the entire MCU, providing an offshoot filled with new possibilities.
There’s another rationale for all this of course. Disney has made it quite clear that they want in on this Netflix streaming business and has plans to launch their own streaming platform. Obviously there’s more than enough content in the Disney vaults to justify this. But toss in the Fox vaults and suddenly they’ve also got the Alien, Predator, Avatar, Die Hard, Home Alone, and Planet of the Apes franchises to flaunt along with the rest of the lucrative Fox catalogue. More importantly, Fox still owns the distribution rights to the original 1977 Star Wars which Disney essentially has to lease out for any Star Wars box sets or streaming packages. This deal would take care of that and god-willing might allow for a long awaited reconstruction of the original theatrical release of the Star Wars flicks that fans have been whinging about for decades. So, there’s a substantial return on this “screw it, let’s just buy Fox” investment that would work out well for the big company and lead to some good viewing for audiences—it’s actually kind of an intriguing idea.
There is one big concern though. One of the wrinkles in the deal states that Disney can’t buy any of Fox’s television properties as they already own ABC and that would lead to a monopoly. Well fair enough. That’s understandable and I can see why Disney would have no interest in owning Fox News as well, that just makes sense. However, it’s odd to think that would be considered a monopoly while Disney swallowing up yet another film studio wouldn’t be. The fact of the matter is that with Paramount a shadow of its former self and MGM long gone, the number of movie studios is shrinking rapidly and it wouldn’t exactly be an exciting prospect to think that Disney might just own the entire film industry eventually. Like any film studio, Fox makes its share of crap. Yet, they are also a distinct entity of their own willing to take relative risks every year. Perhaps Disney would keep that mandate and collect the money and perhaps they wouldn’t. It’s tough to say.
Regardless, aside from the number of massive corporations that control all aspects of our daily lives shrinking down to an even more terrifyingly small number, this merger might not be a bad thing. There are opportunities here. It’s almost worth embracing the Big Brother aspect of it all just for the sweet rewards of getting the original Star Wars edits in HD or getting to hear Captain America drop an f-bomb. Then again, I suppose that’s the exact type of deal with the devil required to inch our way towards that sci-fi dystopia we all know is inevitable. Sigh…this is a tough nut to crack. Entertainment over evil empire? Hmmm…how’d this debate end with the Internet again? Has Google changed its name to Skynet yet?
Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out Phil’s take on Blade Runner 2049, Happy Death Day, and It! He also had a chance to sit down with Guillermo Del Toro. Check out his interview here!
Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!
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Fans of the upcoming DeadPool 2 movie just got a special treat, a first glimpse look at the mutant character Cable has been released.
Back in the 1990s, there was no superhero more beloved than Wolverine. Thanks to the cartoon series, Jim Lee’s insanely popular X-Men run, some video games, and endless action figures, everyone adored the growling clawed anti-hero. It was likely the characters obscene popularity at the time that helped get the first X-Men movie off the ground in an era when Blade was the only successful Marvel movie. The search for an actor to play Wolverine was long and arduous. In the end, fans cried out, “who?” when Australian Hugh Jackman was announced as the heir to the adamantium, and cried foul when they learned his most successful previous role was headlining a revival of Oklahoma. Meanwhile, when Patrick Stewart was announced in the role of chrome dome X leader Charles Xavier, nerds everywhere rejoiced. Both ended up being ideal choices for the X-Men’s live action cinematic endeavours and this week both actors bid farewell to their iconic roles in the suitably sombre farewell picture Logan.
After 17 years and 7 films, Hugh Jackman’s tenure as Wolverine finally comes to an end and thankfully, it’s one hell of a finale. However, this isn’t some bright and colourful celebratory swansong.
There’s been a slow, crawling build-up to Logan, Hugh Jackman’s final turn as Wolverine. Posters materializing, set photos leaking, and cast members teasing details. But now, perhaps the biggest leak of all has come out.
During the presidential debate, a shaky video surfaced on the internet. And while it initially looked to be one of the umpteen million fakes online, further inspection proved its validity. The full trailer for Logan has leaked online for the whole world to see, giving us a bit-sized chunk of what to expect from the upcoming superhero flick.
Logan will take place in 2024, and seemingly during a time when all other mutants are dead. Wolverine is a bedraggled drifter, and from the looks of it, is tracked down by Charles Xavier for a favor. That favor is to look after a young girl, who Xavier say is “very much like” Wolverine. As Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” plays, we see military forces hunting the three of them down, followed by Wolverine doing what he does best: slicing and dicing people.
There’s a lot to unpack from the trailer. For starters, the girl in question is undoubtedly X-23 herself, which has been confirmed by pre-release interviews with the cast and crew. Considering she’s Wolverine’s eventual successor in the current comics, her appearance makes sense. Quite honestly, I wonder if they’re going to adapt the Death of Wolverine story arc for this movie. With it being Jackman’s last, that’s a strong possibility.
Secondly, it definitely seems like this film will draw heavily from the Old Man Logan story arc. While that arc had its problems (hello, inbred child of Hulk and She-Hulk,) it was definitely a bold take on the character. Frankly, despite not being a fan of canon changes, the crashing of this arc into Death of Wolverine makes a whole lot of sense. Viewers would get to see an older, more cynical Logan in a dead world, and get to see his eventual death and the passing of his mantle onto X-23.
That’s purely speculation at this point, however. But from the looks of this incredible trailer, we’re in for something good. It gave me chills, and I’d wager money that I’m not alone. Watch it below, before Fox takes it down.
When the X-Men franchise began in the year 2000, no one was sure if it was even possible to make a watchable movie from a Marvel Comic. Now 16 years later, we have a new one and clearly, Marvel movies do just fine. Fox never stopped making X-Men movies during those years either. Even though there were some stinkers and reshuffles, the mutant franchise has been kicking longer than any with continued (if convoluted) continuity. Yet, somehow the X-flicks still feel like the odd duck out in the superhero race. X-Men: Apocalypse arrives on screens as the biggest blockbuster the franchise has ever seen, but it’s an also-ran to the superhero smash up Marvel and DC movies that just released. On one hand, that’s oddly appropriate given the rejected mutant subject matter, but strange that everyone takes these movies for granted. Not that Apocalypse helps. Truthfully, it’s a bit sloppy and falls square into the middle of the X-pack. It’s totally watchable, just nothing special and weighed down by franchise fatigue.
The flick kicks off in ancient Egypt where the world’s first mutant lives like a god. The impossibly powerful and improbably named Apocalypse is introduced by absorbing the corpse of Oscar Isaac along with his seemingly indestructible powers and cutie pie face. Then he’s trapped in slumber and the story leaps ahead a few centuries when he’s revived for no particular reason other than the fact that the X-Men need a big bad guy to fight in the 80s now that the series is jumping decades. Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) finally has his School for Gifted Youngsters up and running, while Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is hiding out in Poland with a wife and child. Obviously neither dream lasts with a big blue guy named Apocalypse marching around making plans to live up to his name. Fassbender joins Apocalypse’s side along with 80s styled Storm (Alexandrea Shipp) and Psylocke (Olivia Munn) who barely speak because there are too many characters.
Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) is out continuing her quest to liberate mutants, only now she rarely looks blue because Lawrence doesn’t like the makeup. She finds Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and reluctantly agrees to help Professor X battle Apocalypse alongside his new pupils Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), who probably fall in love or something. Plus Quicksilver (Even Peters) is back because he was popular in the last movie and Rose Byrne is back because she was popular in the movie before that. And then a bunch of other stuff happens in name of scale and soap opera.
On a certain level, X-Men: Apocalypse is the most faithful adaptation of the comic franchise on the big screen to date. The mixture of epic superhero smash em’ ups and convoluted moaning melodrama is exactly what the comics always were in good ways and bad. It looks amazing, when it isn’t just looking needlessly dark to feel all serious and moody. An oddly casted Oscar Isaac seems enjoy himself as an impossibly evil big baddie. McAvoy, Fassbender, and Lawrenece remain strong grounding forces as ever. The new kids look cute and fit their parts. The 80s setting allows for some of the colourfully ridiculous X-Men costumes of old to make their big screen debuts. Singer has an assured hand with massive scale filmmaking after working on these movies for over 15 years. It’s a movie that would melt the minds of any 90s comic shop kids magically transported to the future.
Yet, somehow it all feels a little flat. The tone is so relentlessly dour that it can feel both inadvertently comedic and dull. The use of dual franchise callbacks and continuity corrections that proved to be so popular in Days of Future Past pop up again, but it’s not nearly as novel this time. In fact, there’s an overwhelming feeling that we’ve seen this all before. Not just in the countless comic book movies to appear since X-Men’s groundbreaking summertime success, but in the X-Men movies themselves. Do we really need to see Cyclops and Jean Grey meet and fall in love again? Is it really supposed to be a surprise when she shows some “unexpected powers” (gasp!)? Sure, it’s nice to see a reprise of the showstopper Quicksilver sequence form the last movie, but it’s not a good sign when your highlight set piece is essentially a photocopy. Yet, more than anything else, it’s sad to see most of the color, humour, and historical fiction that Matthew Vaugn infused into the series so beautifully in First Class dry up in favour of more of the Singer mutant mopiness that felt a little played out five short years ago.
Still, it’s an exaggeration to say that X-Men: Apocalypse is bad. It’s not. In fact, it’s filled with some pretty spectacular moments that nail the comic’s tone as well as any movie ever has. The trouble is just in the familiarity. This is the third movie this summer about super teams being fractured only to form again and plays out a number of straight-faced genre clichés that Deadpool mocked within this specific universe just a few months ago. If nothing else, Apocalypse proves that superhero movies have to strive to be different, because what impressed in 2011 is already stale. Also, it’s likely time for this series to divert into new areas and new hands. Sure, it was nice to see Singer come back and make X-Men movies on a scale he could only dream of when he invented the series, but it was genuinely X-citing to see Matthew Vaughn and Tim Miller crush the conventions he created and deliver fresh takes on the mutant universe. There will be another one of these, that goes without saying (given the time-hopping in the last few movies, making a 90s X-flick set in the decade that was the peak popularity of X-Men in comics and cartoons is irresistible). Hopefully, the next one is a fresh X-flick though, because it’s sad to see the series that started the Marvel movie revolution continually come up short. Plus, surely the mutant civil rights allegory so central to the series is perfect for our diversity-obsessed age. There is a great X-Men movie left to be made. Now it’s Fox’s job to find the right people to deliver it.
Amidst the chaos of the superhero genre with Captain America: Civil War, Batman Vs. Superman and the upcoming X-men: Apocalypse, rumours of a new Wolverine film surfaced. Now, those rumours are confirmed.
Wolverine 3 is currently in production, with James Mangold returning as the film’s director and producer Simon Kinberg.
The producer made a comment to Collider, telling the outlet “It’s a very radical, bold, different Wolverine than you’ve ever seen in any of these movies… it is an R-rated movie. It’s violent, it’s kind of like a western in its tone. It’s just a very cool, different film.”
The currently untitled Wolverine film stars the iconic Hugh Jackman as the titular character, as well as Boyd Holbrook as the main villain, and Richard E. Grant, Stephen Merchant, and Eriq Lasalle, each of whom have unknown roles. The film is set to open in theatres on March 3, 2017.
It’s been a long, long journey for Deadpool to make it to the big screen. The character came out of the absurd excesses of 90s comics: hyper-violent, snarky, and sexualized; however, the book was also self-aware in an oh-so 90s way, with the character frequently breaking the fourth wall and the writers gleefully taking the piss out of superhero funny book clichés. Deadpool has been in movies before, but in a horrible botch job in that Wolverine origin movie that everyone rightfully dismisses. For years, sarcasm specialist Ryan Reynolds hoped to bring a proper Deadpool to theatres, complete with the hard-R rating and self-consciousness that the property demands. It didn’t look like it would happen, even though Deadpool cosplay started to take over comic cons everywhere as the cult grew for one of the few marquee Marvel properties not given the blockbuster treatment. Then Reynolds leaked an effects test that nailed the tone on the internet and within 24 hours his pet project got a greenlight. Now Deadpool is here and it’s everything longtime fans could want, as well as something that should be a pleasant surprise for folks who only get their superhero kicks at the cinema. It’s also a puerile, immature, silly, and dumb origin story. But hey! We’re talking about Deadpool here. That book has always been clever entertainment, not art.
Things kick off with a hilarious opening credits parody sequence to set the tone. Over an elaborate extended bullet time shot of a violent action scene, we’re treated to joke credits like “produced by asshats” and “directed by an overpaid tool” along with a few jabs at Ryan Reynolds. Yep, we’re firmly in self-mocking/self-aware land with this movie and the fourth wall is broken so many times afterwards, it’s barely even there. It’s an origin story, but one told non-chronologically. This origin tale is also a revenge tale, so that opening action scene from the credits is the first act of revenge and it’s spread out over the first half of the movie, as Reynolds’ sardonic Deadpool talks the audience through the origin with all sorts of additional silliness.
Before donning the tights, Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is just a highly trained mercenary (with a mouth) who does low-end jobs. He hangs out at a bar owned by his equally sarcastic friend (TJ Miller) and falls in love with an equally sarcastic woman (Morena Baccarin). Then he gets cancer and signs up for a potentially deadly medical experiment to cure it (so no direct Weapon X references, likely to keep a distance from Wolverine). Ed Skrein is on generic Euro-baddie duties as the guy executing said experiment. It’s torturous and leaves Wilson burned up like Freddy Kruger, only with remarkable healing powers. Pissed off about losing his pretty face, Wilson transforms into Deadpool and sets out to kill Skrein. That’s when the flashbacks catch up with the extended opening action scene and things get a bit more straightened out. Oh, and Deadpool also has a tentative relationship with two X-men, Colosus (Stefan Kapicic, plus loads of CGI) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand, plus loads of adolescent cynicism) to loosely connect this whole thing to Fox’s X-Men cinematic universe.
The key to Deadpool’s success is its sense of humour. Reynolds, Zombieland screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and director Tim Miller know how familiar audiences are with superhero movie tropes, so they spend the whole movie mocking them, exaggerating them, and dosing them in R-rated excess to make the old tricks feel new. It’s what Deadpool did back in the comic days and it works well on the big screen. There are constant asides to the audience and a mountain of rude n’ crude humour to make it all go down smoothly. Sure, the sense of humour is decidedly adolescent, but it’s Deadpool. That’s the target audience and they’ll get what they want. Beyond all of the filthy funnies, Tim Miller leans into that R-rated freedom with his action scenes. Limbs are severed, blood is sprayed, and entrails fly around the screen. It’s a mixture of hard R Asian action and horror movie splatstick comedy executed on a scale only a superhero blockbuster can receive. The result is a rip-roaring tasteless rollick that adds some nice new flavours to the comic book movie buffet and shows off what R-rated blockbusters could look like in the modern age. God-willing it won’t be the last.
The cast are all rather good, delighting in the film’s irreverent tone. The only exceptions are the villains played by Ed Skrein and a mostly silent Gina Carano. They are essentially generic 80s action movie villains with a few superpowers and feel rather boring. But hey, they get the job done. Despite all of the in-jokes, asides, and R-rated ridiculousness, this is kind of a generic movie. However despite how much fun Baccarin and Miller are on the sidelines or Kapicic and Hildebrand have mocking the X-men universe, the movie belongs to Ryan Reynolds and he doesn’t disappoint. The guy is an underrated actor, a world champion of sarcasm, and blessed with the genetics necessary to be an action figure. If anyone was born to play Deadpool, it’s him. He doesn’t let a one-liner fall flat, gleefully mocks himself, wears buckets of burned skin make-up, and (thanks to a mask) lets some ridiculously talented stunt guys take over to deliver some wild physical Deadpool action pulled straight from comic book panels. If the movie is little more than a giant pilot for a Deadpool franchise, then Reynolds proves that he’s more than capable of carrying it and that he knows the right types of writers and directors necessary to pull it off. Good work sir.
Is Deadpool the best comic book movie ever made? Not really. In fact, I’d imagine there will be at least one better superhero movie this year. However, it is one of the best R-rated Hollywood action movies to arrive in forever and that’s cause for celebration. They don’t make em’ like this anymore and they certainly never made superhero movies like this before. That’s something special. Sure, despite the self-conscious cleverness, it’s just a bunch of vulgar humour, ultra-violence, and parodied superhero clichés. But at least these are all new things to the superhero blockbuster genre and Deadpool makes a hell of a case for why this new franchise deserves a spot at the table. Given that the movie clearly didn’t have the same budget as a Disney Marvel blockbuster, it’s amazing what Tim Miller and his team were able to pull off in terms of pure spectacle. Deadpool is big dopey fun for big dopes like me. Its flaws are forgivable given its strengths and most of them should be set straight in the inevitable sequel. For once, it’s actually kind of exciting to think that sequel is coming. Deadpool’s in-joke premise will get tired eventually, but for now it gives Fox’s Marvel division a filthily distinct franchise in the superhero blockbuster landscape. Disney would never allow a Marvel property to be handled this way (just wait until you see Stan Lee’s cameo) and it’s nice to know that the merc with a mouth ended up at a company that will do the filthy fun character right.