I’m going to miss Twitter.
Whether the site blinks into nothingness over the next few days or whimpers on as a corrupted ghost of what it once was, the Twitter many of knew and loved (and often hated) is dead.
I relaunched Popculturology when the warning lights began flashing that one person had gained the power to destroy something that so many people enjoyed (and even depended on) to make sure I still had an outlet to offer my thoughts on pop culture and share bits of news. If you were on Twitter on Thursday night, you most likely were part of a nightlong Viking funeral for the platform after news broke that hundreds of staffers had chosen to leave instead of agreeing to the new owner’s pledge to turn their jobs into something “hardcore.”
While Twitter was still standing the next day (despite with the restoration of an account or two that had been frozen for tweeting transphobic material), Thursday night got me to reflect on how much I really did enjoy being on Twitter for more than a decade.
I mocked Twitter when it first debuted but quickly became a devoted user. It was my mega RSS feed, my message board, my comments section. It was how I talked to people who shared similar interests even if we’d never cross paths in real life. It was how I networked with fellow journalists and designers. It was how I tried to get a like or two on a corny joke.
Twitter led to my first paid gig writing about pop culture. Jen Trolio, the managing editor of TV.com at that time, found my tweets promoting what would become the first iteration of Popculturology, tracked down my contact info and asked me to submit some ideas for her site. That led to me writing about How I Met Your Mother and Happy Endings for TV.com. (Sadly, when that site went under, so did all of its content. The Internet really is not forever.)
Every so often a tweet of mine would find the right audience. It’s dumb — incredibly dumb — but there’s nothing wrong in finding a bit of joy in knowing that someone like Dwayne Johnson saw your tweet and then quote-tweeted it.
There was the time I saw a Late Night With Seth Meyers producer asking if anyone had a birthday coming up for an upcoming segment. I responded to him, sent over my info and a week or two later, there was Seth Meyers reading (and mispronouncing) my name next to my photo.
As Twitter has appeared to be on its deathbed the past few weeks, I went looking back through my old tweets. I wanted to find the very first thing I had ever tweeted at the person who would become my wife. I had hoped it would be something profound and sentimental. That first tweet did not disappoint.
Twitter was dumb. And it was often destructive. (Did you know the previous owners actually had to ban a guy for life because he tried to do an insurrection?) But it was our dumb and destructive platform. It let people across the world talk to each other. To tell stories. To launch revolutions for freedom.
“What’s incredible is exactly how little Elon Musk understands about what’s going on,” Ed Zitron over at wrote last week. "I have said for a while that Musk has never understood Twitter.”
It’s a shame that in his fury to understand Twitter, to tame it, to bend it his will, the world’s wealthiest man destroyed an experience that was magical to so many of us.
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Indiana Jones ‘at the end of his journey’ — and fighting Nazis again
The fifth Indiana Jones movie doesn’t have a title (I’m still betting they go with either Indiana Jones or just Indy), but the promotional push for the film kicked off this past week with an Empire cover story.
2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull left our hero happily married to Karen Allen’s Marion Ravenwood. But while it found Indy older and perhaps wiser than we’d ever seen him in the original trilogy, it wasn’t necessarily an ending. That’s where Indiana Jones 5 comes in. “I just thought it would be nice to see one where Indiana Jones was at the end of his journey,” [Harrison Ford] explains. “If a script came along that I felt gave me a way to extend the character.”
I’m super curious to see where this Indiana Jones movie takes us — and where it leaves us. If Ford is talking about the end of the character’s journey, that has to rule out a future recasting of Indy, right? Any future movies or Disney+ shows would be about another character following in his legacy.
Empire revealed our first insight at the plot of the fifth Indians Jones film, and it’s definitely not what I expected.
Empire can reveal that Indiana Jones 5 finds our hero in 1969, living against the backdrop of the space race – but the American effort to beat the Russians to the moon brings with it some uncomfortable truths for Indy. “The simple fact is that the moon-landing program was run by a bunch of ex-Nazis,” Indiana Jones 5 co-writer (and acclaimed British playwright) Jez Butterworth tells Empire. “How ‘ex’ they are is the question. And it gets up Indy’s nose …”
Um, I love this. Is an Indiana Jones film about to teach everyone about Operation Paperclip?
Empire also revealed first looks at Mads Mikkelsen as Voller and Boyd Holbrook as Klaber.
I don’t know who this Voller character is supposed to be, but he’s giving off major Toht vibes from Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Um, you still returning as Superman, Henry Cavill?
- The project doesn’t have a writer
- The project doesn’t have a director
- Cavill himself has no formal deal with the studio
- And finally, “as it currently stands at the moment there’s no forward momentum on the project while newly installed DC Studio bosses James Gunn and Peter Safran have been busy fine-tuning their long range plan for the DCU”
Welp. Not sure why everyone — Cavill and Dwayne Johnson especially — were celebrating so hard when there’s actually zero concrete movement toward working on another Superman film with Cavill in the lead.
I want Cavill to play Superman again. It’s unfortunate we may have all gotten our hopes up based on that Black Adam credits scene and Cavill’s video announcing he was back.
Ryan Gosling or Alexander Skarsgård as ‘Evil Superman’ in ‘Thunderbolts’?
Besides the basic cast, we don’t know much about Thunderbolts. It was originally going to close out Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that honor is currently scheduled to Blade.
A new report suggests that Ryan Gosling and Alexander Skarsgård are in the running to play the villain in Thunderbolts, with that villain currently being described only as “Evil Superman.”
In the latest Patreon post by Daniel RPK, the industry insider revealed that currently Marvel Studios is looking to cast a “conflicted and powerful villain” for the film. The description he uploaded specifically states that the character will be an “EVIL SUPERMAN” – caps included. That’s not all.
Doesn’t the MCU already have an evil Superman?Wasnt that who Ikaris was in Eternals?
They’re spending how much on Fast X?!
The budget for Fast X, the 10th film in Universal’s lucrative Fast & Furious action franchise, has ballooned to $340 million, according to individuals with knowledge of the production. That’s 70% more than the reported $200 million budget for 2021’s F9: The Fast Saga, and easily the most expensive entry in an action series that has generated $6.6 billion worldwide in ticket sales.
For comparison, Avengers: Endgame had an estimated budget of $400 million. That high of a budget is easier to swallow when your movie brings in $1.1 billion during its global opening, breaking even in a single weekend.
I’m not sure Fast X has that fire power. Yes, two of the last three installments in the main franchise (not counting Hobbs & Shaw) grossed over $1 billion worldwide, but that number barely gets you into profitable territory with a $340 million budget.
So where’s all this money going?
The surging price tag, which factors in tax-incentive offsets, can be blamed on numerous budget-busting elements: increased salaries for series star Vin Diesel and the rest of the franchise’s ensemble cast, general increases in production costs caused by global inflation and charges for pandemic testing requirements mandated by COVID-19 safety protocols.
Probably doesn’t help that they had to pause production and find a new director, bringing Louis Leterrier on board after Justin Lin left the film.
Sony’s still making its own Spider-Man shows
Sony is going to keep trying to make its Sony's Spider-Man Universe (yes, this is really what they’re calling it) work, no matter how many times (Morbius … and Morbius again …) people say they really just want to see Spider-Man himself in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In addition to the live-action movies Kraven the Hunter and Madame Web, the studio locked in a deal with Amazon to bring a handful of live-action shows to the streamer.
The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang will serve as the showrunner for Silk: Spider Society, the first of these shows, working with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
The show is based on characters created by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos for Marvel Comics. It follows Cindy Moon, described as “a Korean-American woman bitten by the same spider that bit Peter Parker, as she escapes imprisonment and searches for her missing family on her way to becoming the superhero known as Silk.”
Confusingly, Silk: Spider Society will air first on MGM+ (which I’m told used to be Epic?) before then moving over to Prime Video.
Jason David Frank dead at 49
Frank was the franchise’s first Green Ranger. He’d go on to play a White Ranger, Red Ranger and Black Ranger over his time on the show. Frank even returned to play Lord Drakkon, an alternative universe version of Tommy who stayed loyal to Rita Repulsa instead of joining the Power Rangers, in a promo for the Boom! Comics line.
“Please respect the privacy of his family and friends during this horrible time as we come to terms with the loss of such a wonderful human being,” Frank’s rep told TMZ. “He loved his family, friends and fans very much. He will truly be missed.”
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States by dialing 988.
Apple: No confidence in Confidence Man adaption
Apple quietly got into the business of making a Donald Trump show — and then quietly got out of that business. According to a report by The Ankler, the streamer had picked up rights to Confidence Man, one of the many books about the twice-impeached former president, from New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.
It’s unclear why Apple scuttled plans for a Confidence Man adaption, but one source told The Ankler: “Honestly no one in Hollywood really seems interested in touching the subject.”
Let’s keep those resources focused on For All Mankind and Severance, Apple.
What if elements had feelings? And they took the subway? Pixar Studios will answer those questions in their next film, Elemental. The first trailer for the film debuted this past week.
It’s a quick trailer, but — wow — does it show off a stunning level of Pixar animation. It’s easy to forget how primitive computer animation was when the studios began. Seriously, go try to watch the original Toy Story. The story itself is timeless, but there are YouTube videos that people use to babysit their kids. (Pixar should launch a project to “remaster” its early movies and bring them up to 2020s animation levels.)
Very little info about Elemental’s plot itself, but some wise pop culture writers have a good guess:
Elemental opens on June 16, 2023.
Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Mystery
I missed that Murderville was returning, much less for a Christmas special. The concept of this show — celebrities improvising as they try to solve a mystery with Will Arnett’s detective character — was pretty creative, and depending on the celebrity resulted in some pretty funny moments. (Conan O’Brien was the MVP of the original season.)
Do you think The Office exists in the Abbott Elementary universe? Not if they exist in the same universe, but have the characters in Abbott Elementary watched The Office? I’d like to believe that Tyler James Williams’ Gregory knows exactly what he’s doing with his Halpertesque glances to the documentary crew’s cameras.
For the record, Quinta Brunson’s Janine’s fear of heights is absolutely legit. I wouldn’t go up that ladder if you paid me. (Hey, you remember climbing the high ropes in gym class? Apparently back in the 90s, a thin gym mat and the advice to “bend you knees if you fell” were all you needed to make it OK for elementary school kids to climb to the rafters of a two-story gymnasium.)
We’re still working our way through the latest season of The Crown. We squeezed in a few episodes before and after we went out of town for an early Thanksgiving, watching watched “Ipatiev House,” “No Woman’s Land” and “Gunpowder.” The first of those two episodes really had a tone shift from King George V with a parrot on his shoulder to the fate of the Romanov family, huh?
When it comes to the second of these two episodes, I really wanted young William to turn to Diana and say, “Shit, I wrote ‘Wilson,’” when he realized he wrote something wrong in the Eton College ledger.
- How food influencers sharpen their brands: Print cookbooks (J. Clara Chan, The Hollywood Reporter)
- How Disney kept the fire burning for Avatar for 13 long years (Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times)
- The Walking Dead was bad years before its whimper of a series finale (Laura Bradley, The Daily Beast)
Weekend of Nov. 18-20, 2022
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (1)
Weekend gross: $67.3M / Total domestic gross: $288M / Percent drop: -62.9
Wakanda Forever didn’t hold up over its second weekend as well as its predecessor did. The original Black Panther grossed $111.7 million its second weekend out, dropping 44.7 percent.
- The Menu (N)
Weekend gross: $9M / Total domestic gross: $9M / Percent drop: -NA
- The Chosen Season 3: Episode 1 & 2 (N)
Weekend gross: $8.2M / Total domestic gross: $8.2M / Percent drop: -NA
- Black Adam (2)
Weekend gross: $4.5M / Total domestic gross: $157M / Percent drop: -44.3
- Ticket to Paradise (3)
Weekend gross: $3.2M / Total domestic gross: $61/.6M / Percent drop: -45.8
Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special featurette
Early reactions to The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special hit social media over the past few days, and it sounds like James Gunn has created “an absolute gift.” Marvel Studios released a new featurette for the Special Presentation, giving us a look at how the special came together.
I’m most intrigued by the fact that Groot is an actor in a suit in this one? Did anyone else know this how they were creating Groot this time around?
Letitia Wright’s Black Panther finally gets a poster
Under the idea that audiences should be kept guessing over who would assume the mantle of Black Panther in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Marvel Studios really had to minimize Letitia Wright’s Shuri in the trailers and teasers. Now that the film has been released, and the “secret” is out, Marvel released a poster of Shuri in her Black Panther suit.
This is such a good suit.
Behind the scenes with Namor’s throne
Hannah Beachler, the production designer on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, has been revealing some behind-the-scenes info on her Twitter about how they created the world of Talokan, with emphasis on Namor’s throne itself.
And here’s how the concept for Namor’s throne began.
Check out Beachler’s Twitter account (while you still can!) to see more tidbits about Wakanda Forever’s production design.
This issue of Popculturology published early thanks to me not checking the scheduled button when I was getting it ready. Happy Sunday afternoon, everyone!