Hey, it’s the first Popculturology in 2024. It’s been a few weeks since the Friday edition of the newsletter hit your inboxes, and I hope you’ve all had a relaxing time as you wrapped up 2023. (Ha ha ha … like the end of the year is ever relaxing.)
With the world of pop culture coming out of its holiday slumber, this is a lighter edition of the newsletter than normal. (Caitlin keeps telling me that no one wants to read a 3,000-word newsletter, so this one is for her. Happy birthday.)
What’s everyone looking forward to in 2024? Dune: Part Two is less than two months away now. In July we’ll get to see if Deadpool 3 is the hit the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs. (I’ve seen rumors of a trailer during the Super Bowl next month …) And at some point this year, Leslye Headland’s The Acolyte brings Star Wars’ High Republic era to Disney+.
I think I’m an episode behind on For All Mankind, but from the episode I’ve most recently watched, that show really has no idea what to do with itself right now. Ed is flat-out bored and leading a union push? At least we closed out an episode with DMX’s “X Gon’ Give It to Ya.”
You know what I’ve been watching a ton of? Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. While I’ve thankfully wiped our daughter’s YouTube Kids account clean of Blippi (watching him spell “syrup” as “sirope” in an episode was the final straw), she now has a handful of Daniel Tiger episodes that we watch on repeat. I have so many questions about that show. Why don’t the tigers rise up against King Friday’s dictatorship? Is Trolley sentient? Will we become one of those families without a TV if our daughter keeps saying “boop-she-boop-she-boo”? Please hit me up on Threads if you want to discuss these important issues.
Before we jump into the rest of this edition, I wanted to address Substack’s refusal to kick Nazis off this platform. They couldn’t have landed on a more craven stance when it comes to what should have been an easy stance.
Unfortunately, Substack’s cowardliness has put the rest of us in a bad spot, forcing newsletter writers and readers to decide between sticking with them out of convenience or packing things up and finding a new home.
Like many other Substack writers, I’m actively working on the “new home” part. In the meantime, please stick with me. The goal is to make a seamless move to a new platform. If all goes well, you won’t notice any changes beyond some formatting and the boilerplate text at the end of each edition of Popculturology.
NEWS, NOTES AND TRAILERS
Will a Fear the Walking Dead star take Jonathan Majors place as Kang?
OK, take this one with several grains of salt, but a new report has identified Colman Domingo as a possible replacement to play Kang in the Marvel Cinematic Universe now that Marvel Studios has dropped Jonathan Majors.
Twitter scooper Daniel Richtman dropped the rumor last week (via Game Rant) that the Fear the Walking Dead and Rustin star could assume Majors’ vacated role in the previously titled Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
At this point, we don’t know if Marvel plans on recasting Kang. While they could bring in a different actor to replace Majors, there have been rumors that the studio will shift away from Kang and use a new villain as the big bad for the Multiverse Saga.
Domingo would definitely be a catch for the MCU. He’s receiving Oscar buzz for Rustin and The Color Purple. The 20-year age difference between Domingo and Majors shouldn’t matter thanks to the magic of variants.
Steven Yeun exits Thunderbolts
Meanwhile, another actor from the Walking Dead universe has reportedly left the MCU. Steven Yeun was supposed to have a role in Thunderbolts, allegedly playing Sentry, but has left the movie due to scheduling conflicts after the writers and actors strikes pushed production back. Read the article at The Hollywood Reporter.
- “I don’t work for Marvel. What are they going to do to me?” While Marvel Studios had never commented on Yeun’s participation in Thunderbolts, his casting was confirmed in November when Walking Dead and Invincible creator Robert Kirkman let it slip that Yeun had gone in for a Sentry costume fitting. Read the article at IGN.
🎞️ Tell me the Netflix Marvel shows are canon without telling me the Netflix Marvel shows are canon
Marvel Studios is straight up using the Netflix Daredevil show to promote Echo and re-introduce viewers to Kingpin and Daredevil. The studio has played coy when it comes to whether or not the Netflix shows are canon in the MCU, but it looks like we now have our answer.
The Rock looks beyond “big, four-quadrant movies”
A handful of recent projects have tarnished Dwayne Johnson’s reputation as franchise Viagra. While his presence once juiced the box office for franchises like Fast & Furious and Jumanji, Johnson has struggled to find that same level of massive success over the past year or so. (Black Adam basically led to Warner Bros.’ DC superhero franchise being completely rebooted.)
In a chat with Variety, Johnson discussed a move away from blockbusters with The Smashing Machine, an adaption of the documentary The Smashing Machine: The Life and Times of Extreme Fighter Mark Kerr that the actor is working on with director Bennie Safdie.
“I’m at a point in my career where I want to push myself in ways that I’ve not pushed myself in the past,” Johnson told Variety. “I’m at a point in my career where I want to make films that matter, that explore a humanity and explore struggle [and] pain.”
A decade ago, Johnson starred in Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain alongside Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie. Films like that made it clear that Johnson had range beyond playing the same character (and wearing the same shirt!) in movies like Jumanji, Jungle Cruise and Rampage.
“I want to be clear not to say that this is an abandonment of big, four-quadrant movies,” Johnson continued. “I love making them, and there is tremendous value and importance in [them] … but there’s a time and a place for them. I’m at this point in my career where I want more. And I don’t mean I want more box office. I mean I want more humanity.”
Of course, Johnson isn’t stepping away from blockbuster movies. A Fast X credits scene revealed that he has returned to the Fast & Furious franchise in addition to starring in the ill-advised live-action Moana remake.
“I didn’t get a chance at doing my version of Godzilla”
The first trailer for Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire revealed a very different take on Godzilla. His arms are longer than what we’ve previously seen in the MonsterVerse and his once-blue scales are now a very 1990s pink. While there’ll be an in-story explanation for the changes, Godzilla x Kong director Adam Wingard revealed a much simpler reason for the changes.
“Very specifically in the last film, I wanted Godzilla to have a continuity, to look the way that he had in King of the Monsters and the 2014 Godzilla,” Wingard told Total Film. “But then I didn’t get a chance at doing my version of Godzilla. So now I wanted to do different things with the spines, and try different colours. I didn’t want it to just be random; it’s part of the story.”
Just let me know where I can find a Funko Pop version of the new Godzilla.
Don’t expect to see James Gunn’s version of the Superman suit any time soon
With production moving along on Superman: Legacy, fans are eager to see what the iconic Superman suit will look like in James Gunn’s film. Will David Corenswet’s suit be a departure from Henry Cavill’s muted reds and blues? Will he have the trunks?
When asked by a fan about the odds we’d see the new suit before filming begins in March, Gunn had a simple reply:
Superhero movies often reveal their costumes before shooting begins to avoid fans’ first looks being poorly lit paparazzi shots. You know, control the reveal. Read Gunn’s post on Threads.
- “Totally made up”: Gunn also debunked the rumor that Scarecrow and Professor Pyg would also be villains in Matt Reeves’ sequel to The Batman. Read Gunn’s post on Threads.
Taylor Tomlinson’s After Midnight gets a premiere date
CBS announced on Thursday that Taylor Tomlinson’s After Midnight will premiere on Tuesday, Jan. 16.
While the exact format of After Midnight has yet to be revealed, a CBS press release calls it “the smartest show on television about the dumbest things on the internet” and teases “a panel of guests from the worlds of entertainment, comedy, music and beyond.”
After Midnight is a reworking on @midnight, which previously ran on Comedy Central, and takes the place of The Late Late Show after James Corden’s departure.
The next Scream loses its director
The Scream franchise should be riding high right now. Scream VI was not only a hit with critics but grossed $108.2 million in North America, the biggest domestic haul for a Scream film. (There was the whole “we don’t want to pay Neve Campbell” thing, but that didn’t hurt Scream VI’s box office performance.)
Things aren’t going so well for the untitled seventh Scream film.
“I guess now is as good a time as any to announce I formally exited Scream 7 weeks ago,” Landon wrote on Twitter. “This will disappoint some and delight others. It was a dream job that turned into a nightmare. And my heart did break for everyone involved. Everyone. But it’s time to move on. I have nothing more to add to the conversation other than I hope [Wes Craven’s] legacy thrives and lifts above the din of a divided world. What he and [Kevin Williamson] created is something amazing and I was honored to have even the briefest moment basking in their glow.”
I’m not a big horror guy, but Landon’s Happy Death Day films are two films in the genre that I’m a fan of. I was kind of looking forward to seeing what he’d do with the Scream franchise.
Oh good, they’re making another Cars movie
Back in the glory days of Pixar, Cars stood out as the studio’s lone blip. Of course, this was a time when Pixar had set such a high standard, a movie that now has a 75 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes was considered a downturn.
Pixar would go on to make two more Cars movies, installments that at best were lost in a sea of sequels from the studio. According to a new report, another Cars movie is on the way.
While the sourcing on this one isn’t solid, another Cars movie wouldn’t be a surprise. Not at all. Pixar loves a sequel and has Inside Out 2 coming to theaters this year with Toy Story 5 in the works.
Adam Driver doesn’t need cue cards
After Adam Driver hosted Saturday Night Live, I commented in that weekend’s edition of Deep SNL Thoughts to “try to find one moment where he looks like he’s reading the cue cards.”
Turns out Driver was never reading the cue cards.
The actor revealed during his appearance on the Smartless podcast (via TheWrap) that he memorizes his SNL lines.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Driver replied when asked about memorizing his lines by fellow podcast guest Jason Bateman. “You know, because I don’t like it usually when you can kind of tell that someone’s reading the cards. It kind of destroys the illusion. And when they’re well written, it’s easy to memorize … It’s not that difficult.”
Adam Driver really is a flawless SNL host.
- Bob Iger Prepares for Ike’s Pirate Ship to Fire at Disney (Kim Masters, The Hollywood Reporter)
- The Vultures Are Circling: Who Will Walk Away With Paramount? (Alex Weprin, The Hollywood Reporter)
- Beep Beep (John Gruber, Daring Fireball)
- Boy, 13, Is Believed to Be the First to ‘Beat’ Tetris (Sopan Deb, The New York Times)
AND FINALLY …
A belated happy birthday
Late Night host Seth Meyers turned 50 last week, and his crew threw a surprise party for him after shooting “Corrections.” (Meyers actually shares a birthday with our daughter, so happy birthday to her too.)