Daredevil is the Man Without Netflix, joining Iron Fist and Luke Cage in cancellation

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It’s fair to say that Netflix is getting out of the Marvel business. Sure, there will be a Season 3 of Jessica Jones and a second season for The Punisher. But the cancellation of Netflix’s flagship Marvel series, Daredevil, surely means the inevitable end of that partnership.

Multiple outlets reported the news Thursday evening. (If you keep track of such things, Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva and Dominic Patten were first on it by a nose.) Daredevil’s cancellation comes nearly two months after the streaming network announced that two of its other Marvel series, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, weren’t being renewed for additional seasons.

— Related: Iron Fist won't get a third season on Netflix, taking away Danny Rand's TV chi

[Editor’s Note: Naturally, this news comes after we already recorded Episode 15 of The Amusement Park Podcast. We will almost certainly talk about this next week!]

Season 3 of Daredevil just launched six weeks ago on Netflix. The future of the show seemed uncertain in light of the other Marvel cancellations, but strong reviews among media and fans presumably gave it a chance for renewal. Yet no announcement for a fourth season came from Netflix or Marvel, which made fans nervous. That led to a recent online campaign to #RenewDaredevil on social media.

In the past, these sorts of campaigns and petitions have had mixed success. But a few have paid off, which kept hope alive. Yet it’s also worth asking whether or not a campaign flooding social media or petition flooded with names would have even mattered.

Season 3 showrunner Erik Oleson even told fans on Twitter that he pitched Season 4 to Netflix. (Season 1 was run by Steven S. DeKnight, while Marco Ramirez and Doug Petrie oversaw Season 2.) Obviously, executives weren’t convinced. Or they had already made their decision.

Earlier this month, ScreenRant reported some surprising information that surely factored into Netflix’s decision-making process. According to data from analytics company Jumpshot, viewership for Daredevil’s third season had dropped 57 percent compared to the first weeks from Seasons 1 and 2. (Iron Fist dropped 64 percent, while Luke Cage suffered a 59 percent drop.) It’s the closest data to ratings available, since Netflix doesn’t release those numbers to the public.

The Luke Cage cancellation was the true indication that Netflix was no longer enamored with its Marvel shows. A Season 3 renewal seemed like a formality before producers clashed with executives over creative direction.

Related: Luke Cage joins Iron Fist in Netflix cancellation line, literally becoming TV Heroes For Hire

But Netflix doesn’t own the Marvel shows as it does with other series on the network like Stranger Things, Ozark, Bojack Horseman, The Crown, Master of None, GLOW, Narcos and so many, many others. Marvel licensed its shows to Netflix and produced them through ABC. So if the series were expensive and viewership was waning, Netflix obviously felt it was better off going with the properties from which full profit could be derived. And there is a lot more content now available on Netflix than there was when the deal with Marvel was signed in 2013.

(Netflix probably isn’t thrilled that Disney is launching a competing service either, one which will eventually take away many of the movies and TV shows which currently provide so much of its content.)

As has been the case for the past couple of months, the question now becomes whether these series can find new life elsewhere. Netflix’s official statement ended by saying “the Daredevil character will live on in future projects for Marvel.” The presumption is that the shows could jump over to Disney’s new streaming service. Disney+ is developing Marvel series featuring Loki, Scarlet Witch, and a Falcon-Winter Soldier team-up. Whether or not Disney+ is interested in carrying more adult content like Daredevil along with its family-friendly fare remains to be seen.

But the two Star Wars live-action series soon to launch on the service figure to appeal to older audiences. Maybe a Daredevil or Luke Cage wouldn’t be quite as dark. Or if Marvel would prefer to emphasize stronger violence, language and sex for its street-level heroes, the company also owns a stake in Hulu and might provide a better platform there. (Marvel already has a Hulu series with Runaways, which launches its second season on Dec. 21.)

If this is it for Daredevil on TV, Season 3 ended with what could be perceived as a series finale. (Though there was something of a cliffhanger that would’ve led into a Season 4.) No Marvel character has suffered more than Matt Murdock, which the Netflix series (along with The Defenders) certainly got right. Charlie Cox was an excellent Murdock (and Daredevil!) and no one will ever be a better Wilson Fisk than Vincent D’Onofrio. We’ll always have those long-take fight scenes in hallways, stairwells and prisons.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is getting a sequel and 'Spider-Women' spinoff

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Sony is opening the door to its Spider-Verse with the upcoming Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. If you saw Venom and stayed through the credits, you know that the studio is establishing that there’s a whole bunch of other Spider-Man universes besides the one we’re currently seeing with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Tom Holland’s version of Peter Parker and our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

If Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is as good as the trailers make it look, audiences are going to have no trouble buying into the notion that multiple Spider-Men or spider-powered superheroes exist across multiple dimensions and timelines. People will want to see more Miles Morales. And Sony is banking that we’ll also want to see more Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy) and several other female Spider-heroes.

According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit, Sony Pictures Animation is developing both a sequel to Spider-Verse and a female-centric spin-off. This news indicates that Sony is expecting big things from its animated Spider-Man film, which is still two weeks away from hitting theaters on Dec. 14.

The Spider-Verse sequel will continue the story of what figures to be an extremely popular character in the teenage, black and Latino Miles Morales. That project will be written by David Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984, Zombieland 2) and directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, whom many fans will know from his work on Justice League Unlimited (in addition to several DC animated shorts), The Legend of Korra and Voltron.

However, the “Spider-Women” film might be the far more interesting initiative. Spider-Gwen and Peni Parker — an anime-type version who wears a giant armored suit called SP//dr — will both be introduced in Spider-Verse, so it’s reasonable to assume both characters will be prominent parts of this spin-off. (Spider-Gwen has also been on the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series.)

But which other Spider-Women could join them in the story is the question that makes this movie most intriguing.

Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew, seems like a natural addition to the cast. Not only would Drew possibly attract some longtime comic book fans who remember her adventures from the late-1970s, her affiliation with the Brian Michael Bendis edition of the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. counterpart S.W.O.R.D., and a 2016 limited series in which she got a redesigned, modern costume.

Drew even had her own cartoon series in 1979:

There’s also another version of Spider-Woman, Julia Carpenter, who was introduced in the 1984 Secret Wars miniseries and was eventually a member of the Avengers. Somehow, she was part of the ensemble in the 1994 Iron Man animated series.

Other “Spider Women” who could appear in this movie include:

  • Silk, a Korean-American named Cindy Moon, a Korean-American woman who is bitten by the same radioactive spider that attacked Peter Parker. Earlier this year, news broke that Sony was developing a live-action movie for the character. Moon has been in both Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War as Parker’s classmate, but it’s not known if actress Tiffany Espensen would be cast in the role.

  • Spider-Girl, the daughter of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson who was featured in several Marvel Comics titles during the early 2000s. Another character, Anya Corazon (first known as Araña), took the Spider-Girl name in 2010.

  • Madame Web, a clairvoyant who needs a mechanical web-like life support system to survive. (Julia Carpenter became a new version of Madame Web in the comic books.)

So there are plenty of paths this project could take. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse demonstrates that Sony is willing to take advantage of the rich, deep mythology created in decades of Marvel Comics. That includes live-action films featuring Spider-villains Morbius the Living Vampire (to be played by Jared Leto), along with Silver Sable and Black Cat (though that movie is currently stalled).

The “Spider-Women” film will be directed by Lauren Montgomery, who has plenty of animated superhero bonafides from helming Superman/Batman: Apocalypse and Batman: Year One. She’ll work from a script written by Bek Smith (Zoo).

Don't worry: Stan Lee already filmed his cameo for Avengers 4

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Plenty of thoughts and memories surged in our minds (and emotions in our hearts) upon hearing the news that Stan Lee passed away at the age of 95. But how many of you soon wondered whether or not Lee had filmed a cameo for Avengers 4, currently scheduled for a May 3, 2019 release?

Not to worry, True Believers. As noted by HitFix, Lee had already finished filming his appearance in the film, which shouldn’t be a surprise to those following every development concerning Avengers 4 closely. Principal photography, including reshoots, wrapped in October.

Here’s the Lee cameo from Avengers: Infinity War.

But directors Joe and Anthony Russo actually filmed Lee’s cameo while making Avengers: Infinity War, getting through his appearances in various movies in one day so he didn’t have to fly back and forth at his age.

Joe Russo explained the process in an April BBC Radio interview, via ComicBook.com:

“So, Stan, typically we try to get him out — he doesn't love to fly — so we try to get him out for his cameos around the same time. So if we have other movies shooting on the same lot that we're on, for instance Ant-Man [and the Wasp] or Avengers 4, we group his cameos together and then move him from one set to the next and get him through his cameos in one day.”

So we can guess that Lee filmed at least three cameos (including Ant-Man and the Wasp, embedded below). Maybe four, presuming that Captain Marvel was filming around the same time.

No word on what Lee’s cameo will be in Avengers 4, but why would you want to know that now anyway? The fun with those appearances is when and where they unexpectedly pop up. Sometimes, Lee plays bystander characters. Other times, he’s a part of the story. But the cameos are almost always fun.

Plenty of enterprising video bloggers have assembled collections of Lee’s many cameo appearances in Marvel movies. Picking one favorite would be difficult. For pure laughs, I’d choose Tony Stark mistaking Lee (or someone who looks just like him) for Hugh Hefner in Iron Man.

He was actually a part of the story in The Incredible Hulk, drinking tainted soda that allowed the government to find Bruce Banner.

But personally, I like Lee’s appearance as the Fantastic Four’s mailman, Willie Lumpkin, because he’s playing an actual Marvel character he helped create.

How about you? What are your favorite Stan Lee cameo appearances?

Stan Lee left behind a legacy unlike any other

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What was the difference between Marvel and DC comics through most of their respective existences? DC's heroes are arguably more iconic, especially the trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. But Lee's superheroes were so much more human than DC's.

Peter Parker had to worry about homework, girls at school, and helping his Aunt May with money. The Fantastic Four sometimes couldn't pay rent for their space atop the Baxter Building. Bruce Banner constantly lived in fear that the monster inside him would destroy everything he held dear. Thor had to live in the body of a cripple on Earth to teach him humility.

Stan Lee reached out and bonded with the fans, referring to them as "True Believers" and signing off with "Excelsior!" like we were all members of a club.

— Read the full post here —

Disney announces second Star Wars series, this one featuring Rogue One's Cassian Andor

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Are you ready for a prequel to a prequel? Lucasfilm is betting that the answer for Star Wars fans is yes!

During Disney’s latest earnings call, CEO Bob Iger announced that Lucasfilm is developing another Star Wars series for Disney’s streaming service. The new show will feature Cassian Andor, portrayed by Diego Luna, who was one of the key players in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Though it’s probably unnecessary to say at this point, the series will take place before the events of Rogue One.

(And if you haven’t seen the movie, it’s pretty damn good and available for streaming on Netflix and Amazon.)

In Star Wars mythology, Andor is part of the Rebellion during its formative years and eventually becomes a spy working in opposition to the Empire. The new series will follow those beginning years of the resistance, presumably leading up to the events of Rogue One. Will we see droid K-2SO in this story? Let’s hope so, though a CGI character would obviously significantly add to the series budget. But maybe that’s not an issue!

According to Lucasfilm, the show will be a “spy thriller” with stories “filled with espionage and daring missions.” Andor showed he was a darker, more ruthless character in Rogue One, and that could be an intriguing angle to the Star Wars mythology, following smaller operations that don’t necessarily involve battles in space and world-destroying technology. Or maybe Disney+ (which is the official name of the service, not Disney Play) will surprise us.

The newly announced Star Wars series will be the second from a galaxy far, far away on Disney’s upcoming streaming service. The Mandalorian will be first up, executive produced by Jon Favreau (with directors including Taika Waititi, Rick Famuyiwa and Bryce Dallas Howard) and taking place between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. The show has been described as sort of a Western in the Star Wars universe, following a warrior from the same planet as Jango and Boba Fett.

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It’s expected that The Mandalorian will debut on Disney+ in late 2019, months after the streaming service launches. But it’s possible that the series won’t be released until after Star Wars: Episode IX hits theaters on Dec. 20, 2019. In that case, we might not see the Cassian Andor series until 2020 or 2021.

The two Star Wars series will join the three shows that Marvel is developing around Loki, Scarlet Witch, and the Winter Soldier and Falcon. Iger confirmed the Loki series is being made, but didn’t comment on the other two shows. Regardless, Disney+ (corporate synergy with ESPN+) is looking more appealing with each week, poised to take more of your monthly streaming dollars beginning next year.

DC Universe's Swamp Thing casts its Alec Holland and title creature

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The upcoming Swamp Thing series on the DC Universe streaming service has been slowly building its cast. But of all the actors joining the ensemble, the most recognizable being Will Patton (Halloween) and Virginia Madsen (Designated Survivor), the actor portraying the title character had yet to be announced. That is, until now.

On Tuesday, Warner Brothers revealed that Andy Bean (It: Chapter Two) will play Alec Holland, the scientist fated to become a plant-based monster in a horrible accident. But Derek Mears will suit up as the creature, getting what presumably is the juicier role as the Swamp Thing.

The 6-foot-5 Mears has plenty of experience playing a monster during his career, portraying Jason Voorhees in the 2009 Friday the 13th remake, Moloch in Sleepy Hollow, and the Kree Captain in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. That should be a good pedigree for stepping into the large footprints left behind by Dick Durock in two Swamp Thing movies and the 1990s syndicated TV series.

As could be expected on a TV series budget, Swamp Thing will not be CGI imagery on the screen. Writer and executive producer Gary Dauberman told Slashfilm in September that the creature will be created with practical effects, though he promises the physical costume will look less like a man in a suit than Durock’s version of the character did.

Dauberman also mentioned that the DC Universe series will indeed be an origin story for Swamp Thing (as it should be), and Alec Holland’s presence in the story confirms that. What isn’t yet known is whether or not we’ll see more of Bean as Holland in flashbacks throughout the show’s 13 episodes.

Via DC Universe, here’s an official description of the series and its title character:

"Emerging from the swamp with a monstrous physique and strange new powers over plant life, the man who was once Alec Holland struggles to hold onto his humanity. When dark forces converge on the town of Marais, Swamp Thing must embrace what he has become in order to defend the town as well as the natural world at large."

Circling back to Bean and Mears’s castmates, Patton will play the bad guy of the story, businessman Avery Sunderland, while Madsen is portraying his wife Maria. The cast also includes Jennifer Beals (Taken) as local sheriff Lucilia Cable, Crystal Reed as Abby Arcane (a very important name to fans of the Swamp Thing comic books), Maria Sten as reporter Liz Tremayne, and Jeryl Prescott, who will play fortune teller and sorceress Madame Xanadu.

Swamp Thing will debut on DC Universe sometime in 2019.

Bohemian Rhapsody gets it right with Queen's music, not so much with Freddie Mercury

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If you’re a fan of Queen and Freddie Mercury, you will very likely enjoy Bohemian Rhapsody. The movie is a celebration of the band and its music. You’ll be reminded of just how much you loved songs like “Fat-Bottomed Girls,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “Radio Ga Ga,” along with deeper cuts such as “Love of My Life.”

Whether or not the film is a fitting tribute to Mercury will depend on your view. Director Bryan Singer (who was fired from the production yet is still credited) and writer Anthony McCarten take a safe approach to the singer’s personal life, largely settling for allusions to Mercury’s homosexuality, drug use and partying. Much like Mercury did publicly, the movie keeps that away from the audience.

However, Bohemian Rhapsody does a fine job of portraying Freddie Mercury, the rock star. Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) has all of the legendary frontman’s stage moves and swagger down. Mercury commanded the stage, punching, gyrating, and thrusting with the beats from bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor. The rest of Queen effectively faded into the background because the eye was always drawn to Mercury’s energy and charisma.

— Read the full review here —

Ewan McGregor will be man behind Black Mask in Birds of Prey movie

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Ewan McGregor might not be the first actor who comes to mind for a fearsome crime lord. But behind a black mask, maybe he’ll be more believable as a sadistic Gotham City gangster who enjoys disfiguring and torturing his victims.

As first reported by The Wrap’s Umberto Gonzalez, McGregor has been cast as the main bad guy for the Birds of Prey film. He’ll play Roman Sionis, aka Black Mask, who murdered his parents to take over their cosmetics company but squandered that fortune with poor business decisions. When his company went under, Sionis blames Gotham City high society — including Bruce Wayne — for his downfall, dons a mask made from the wood of his father’s casket and puts together a gang of criminals called The False Face Society.

But this is the Birds of Prey movie, not the next Batman flick. And with the introduction of Huntress (to be played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) alongside Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, it doesn’t seem like there will be time for a bad guy’s origin story. Yet maybe that’s all somehow tied together.

Black Mask has become a prominent member of Batman’s rogues gallery since his introduction in 1985. He’s been notably featured in the Batman: Arkham Origins video game, in addition to animated series like The Batman and The Brave and the Bold, and animated films like Under the Red Hood and Bad Blood. (I like the ebony wood-carved mask, rather than the skull but that appears to be well-established.)

He’s a good choice for a movie villain that isn’t from the familiar collection of the Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Mr. Freeze. (Maybe we should include Bane and Ra’s Al Ghul in there too.)

McGregor is a curious pick since he doesn’t typically play an outright bad guy (though he has played a criminal, co-starring with Titans’ Brenton Thwaites in Son of a Gun). But Birds of Prey is apparently been looking for a somewhat comedic presence who can maybe go unhinged. Previous actors attached in rumors to the Black Mask role were Sharlto Copley and Sam Rockwell.

But according to director Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs), the Birds of Prey script (written by Christina Hodson, who’s also writing a Batgirl movie for DC) has a lot of dark humor to it. The movie is also going to be rated R, which could indicate a harder edge or pushing the violence and language as the two Deadpool movies have.

Birds of Prey is set to hit theaters on Feb. 7. 2020. As it stands, the movie will follow Aquaman, Shazam, and Joker on the DC Films release schedule.

Does a Flash Gordon movie have new life with Overlord director Julius Avery?

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We’re just over a week away from Overlord hitting theaters. But director Julius Avery apparently did impressive enough work for Fox to give him one of its renowned, yet long-stalled, intellectual properties.

As reported by multiple outlets, Avery has been tapped by Paramount to direct Flash Gordon, a project that has had numerous stops and starts with a variety of filmmakers. The property is perhaps best known as a campy 1980 movie (with an outstanding Queen theme song) and a comic strip that ran from 1934 to 2003.

The premise of the Flash Gordon story is Earth being endangered by a collision course with the planet Mongo. Gordon is a famous athlete (in the 1980 film, he was the quarterback for the New York Jets) kidnapped by a scientist who flies a rocket ship to Mongo hoping to save the Earth. Gordon eventually becomes involved with a rebellion set on overthrowing Mongo’s dictator, Ming the Merciless.

Prior to Avery taking over, Flash Gordon was reportedly in the hands of Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn. Vaughn has been attached to big sci-fi blockbusters like Thor and X-Men: Days of Future Past previously, and he also made a epic sort of fantasy with 2007’s Stardust. (Additionally, he was rumored to be a favorite to direct the Man of Steel sequel that won’t be happening anymore.) He would’ve been a strong choice for a Flash Gordon movie.

That doesn’t mean Avery isn’t a good pick, however. He has action movie bonafides and is reportedly a big fan of the comic books, which inspired his pitch. Overlord is generating some strong buzz (currently boasting an 89 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes before the top critics get their crack at it) as a sci-fi/horror take on a World War II story. The Nov. 9 release follows a pair of soldiers tasked with destroying a Nazi outpost, only to discover secret experiments that are creating zombie-like creatures.

(Avery’s first film, Son of a Gun, a crime thriller starring Titans’ Brenton Thwaites and Ewan McGregor is currently available on Netflix.)

Will people be interested in a Flash Gordon movie? The original 1930s serials inspired Star Wars, man! George Lucas made Star Wars because he couldn’t get the rights to Flash Gordon (which were too expensive). That has to be worth something, right?

Flash Gordon is still an established brand name that has spawned several cartoons, comic books and TV shows, and could attract some nostalgia (such as Seth McFarlane’s in Ted), current audiences may have never heard of the character. But a blockbuster sci-fi movie taking place on another planet should intrigue plenty of viewers if it looks cool and has a compelling story.

The current Star Wars movie series and the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise poses some serious competition for the outer space sci-fi audience. But maybe, just maybe, Flash Gordon can step into the void left by Marvel putting the production of Guardians Vol. 3 on indefinite hold until the studio finds a replacement for director James Gunn. Might as well aim high.

New Halloween movie is rightful sequel to John Carpenter's original 1978 horror classic

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With the abundance of revivals and reboots in movies and TV, another Halloween movie might not seem like something worth our attention. Horror movies, especially, have diluted celebrated brands by making new versions of classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

But maybe no horror brand has been more watered down and misguided over the past 40 years than the Halloween franchise. Nine sequels (two of which were reboots) have been made since the original 1978 film, each of them moving further away from John Carpenter’s original vision. (To be fair, however, Carpenters vision in 1978 may not have been more than to make a scary slasher movie.)

The smart move by director David Gordon Green (who co-wrote the film with Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley) was to act like those previous nine films never happened. (There’s even a line that dismisses one of the sillier developments revealed in 1981’s Halloween II.) This 2018 edition of Halloween is a direct (albeit 40 years later) sequel to the original film, returning to the story and its two primary characters after four decades have passed.

-- Read the full review here --