Hey, it’s Friday! Welcome to this week’s edition of Popculturology. With both the writers and actors work stoppages in the past, the pop culture world has been whirring back to life with multiple movie trailers and some big casting news.
Before we jump into the news, everyone caught up with the first episode of the new For All Mankind season? This show continues to be ridiculous. I’ll never not love how the show asks us to believe that Joel Kinnaman is playing a 72-year-old. But seriously, one of my favorite For All Mankind bits is the alternate history woven into the show. I feel like the further away we’ve gotten from the moment the Russians landed on the moon, the less the show teases the background history, so it was fun to see the fourth season kick off with a montage of the history we missed — including Harvey Weinstein getting arrested decades before he did in our timeline and Al Gore defeating George H.W. Bush (instead of George W. Bush) in 2000.
And how about the most recent episode of Rick and Morty? Feel free to hit me up on my socials to discuss spoilers for “Unmortricken.”
Popculturology will be off next Friday for Thanksgiving. Deep SNL Thoughts and The Box Office Report will publish as normal this weekend. I hope you all have a great holiday next week.
NEWS, NOTES AND TRAILERS
🎞️ Garfield now sounds like Chris Pratt for some reason
Yes, I’m absolutely leading off this edition of Popculturology with the first trailer for The Garfield Movie.
Garfield is an easy bit of pop culture to make fun of, but the comic strip — especially back in the 1990s — was the gateway to comics and graphic novels for a lot of people. I discovered the compilations of Garfield comic strips at my elementary school library, which led to a lifetime of getting them from book orders, book fairs and still for birthdays and Christmas. Reading those comics led to Calvin and Hobbes, Bone and eventually the world graphic novels like Watchmen. (Roxy, our late beagle, also had a Garfield stuffed toy that she had in her bed every night.)
In 2023, Garfield may just be another cog in the machine that churns out cartoons for kids filled with celebrity voices, but for a lot of us, the newspaper strip was just the beginning of a lifetime of reading comics of all kinds.
Anyways, here’s the first trailer for The Garfield Movie …
The animation style: I actually don’t mind that the look of The Garfield Movie doesn’t match the traditional look of Garfield. While Sony is releasing the movie, I’m seeing The Garfield Movie listed as Alcon Entertainment’s first animated film, which makes it hard to compare the animation style to the studio’s previous work. (Baby Garfield is incredibly cute, and I’m sure they’ll sell a lot of toys of him.)
Garfield’s origin: The Garfield Movie is playing fast and loose with Garfield’s origin story. The comics and the animated Garfield: His 9 Lives established that he was born in an Italian restaurant.
Sounds like Chris Pratt: There was a time when animated movies would get voice actors who would craft individual and unique performances for the characters they were playing. Chris Pratt just sounds like Chris Pratt. (Looks like What We Do in the Shadow’s Harvey Guillén is voicing Odie … a character who historically doesn’t say or think anything.)
About that release date … The Garfield Movie is currently slated to hit theaters on May 24, 2024, which is the same day as Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes and Furiosa, George Miller’s prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road. Disney and Warner Bros. are obviously going to shift their movies to avoid going head to head with The Garfield Movie.
The Fantastic Four (maybe) finds its Reed Richards
Casting Marvel Studios’ upcoming Fantastic Four reboot has been a rumor mill obsession for months now. In addition to some believable rumors (Emma Stone as Sue Storm, Adam Driver as Reed Richards), there have also been some wild ones (Mila Kunis as Ben Grimm/The Thing).
The beginning of the end seems to finally be here for Fantastic Four casting speculation, with scooper Daniel Richtman revealing on Wednesday that Pedro Pascal has been offered the role of Reed Richards.
Shortly after that, /Film reported that “Pascal has officially signed on the dotted line.” Read the article at /Film.
- Not yet: Other outlets aren’t quite as confident that the deal is done. The Hollywood Reporter’s sources say “scheduling is a factor in whether the deal will work out, and the current status of the talks is unclear.” Read the article at The Hollywood Reporter.
- Who else: If Pascal’s casting holds, the Mandalorian/Last of Us star will be the first official Fantastic Four castmember. According to Jeff Sneider, the other three major roles are still rumored to be Vanessa Kirby as Sue Storm, Joseph Quinn as Johnny Storm and Ebon Moss-Bachrach as The Thing. Read the article at The InSneider.
Coyote vs. Acme lives!
News that Warner Bros. Discovery was shelving Coyote vs. Acme — a finished film! — to secure a $30 million tax break blew up last week, with people both inside and outside of the industry tearing into WBD for choosing money over respecting the work done by the creative people who trusted the company.
That outrage paid off, with news breaking earlier this week that Warner Bros. was now shopping Coyote vs. Acme around. Read the article at Puck.
- Canceled meetings: In addition to reporting that Amazon is a contender to pick up the John Cena-starring film, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that “several filmmakers instructed reps to cancel meetings they had on the books with Warners.” Turns out killing movies that people have poured themselves into for months or years isn’t a great way to build relationships with the people you need to keep making movies and TV shows for your studio. Read the article at The Hollywood Reporter.
- Breaking it down: Uproxx’s has a pretty great walkthrough of what happened with Coyote vs. Acme to get us to this point. Read the article at Uproxx.
- Gunn’s response: DC Studios co-head James Gunn is one of the people credited on Coyote vs. Acme’s story. While Gunn has been publicly quiet about the film’s status, he did post a picture of Wile E. Coyote cooking on his social media platforms. See Gunn’s post on Threads.
- Call in the feds: Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro called Warner Bros. Discovery’s “tactic of scrapping fully made films for tax breaks is predatory and anti-competitive” and suggested that the Justice Department and FTC should review this kind of conduct. Read the tweet.
Avengers … assemble?
In a piece exploring the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Hollywood Reporter’s Richard Newby highlights a major missing piece from the Multiverse Saga so far: An Avengers movie.
The fact that there has been no New Avengers movie feels like a massive oversight. An Avengers film prior to The Marvels would likely have benefited the film, just as Captain Marvel greatly benefitted from coming out between Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Yet, Marvel seems intent on saving the Avengers for its Multiverse Saga conclusion with Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars, in a bid to create the next Infinity War and Endgame.
But that was never the point of the Avengers. The point was to bring new characters together and solidify who they are amidst their peers and global threats. In the comics, The Avengers runs monthly, and while yes, the Avengers films should feel special, they also shouldn’t take a decade to build to. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have seen Doctor Strange, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Shang-Chi, Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp team-up as the latest iteration of the Avengers at this point.
When I read this on Monday night (while watching the Buffalo Bills turn in another dismal performance in a primetime game), I was shocked at how bizarre it is that we’re this far into the MCU’s post-Avengers: Endgame slate and haven’t gotten an Avengers team-up movie.
The Infinity Saga was full of Avengers movies: Sure, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame served as the finale to the MCU’s first saga, but Avengers movies were sprinkled throughout the series.
The Avengers: The original Avengers movie was released after five movies.
Avengers: Age of Ultron: The second Avengers movie came after just four more movies.
Avengers: Infinity War: It took another seven movies to get to the third Avengers movie — but one of those movies was Captain America: Civil War, a film that was basically an Avengers movie.
Avengers: Endgame: And finally, there were just two movies between the third and fourth Avengers movies.
No plans to hang soon: If Marvel Studios sticks to the current schedule for the Multiverse Saga, we’re going to go fifteen movies (sixteen if you count Spider-Man: Far From Home ending the Infinity Saga) and at least thirteen Disney+ shows and specials before Avengers: The Kang Dynasty comes along.
“It felt like it was about capping a saga”: Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige spelled out his thinking when it comes to Avengers movies in a chat with ComicBook.com (via ComicBookMovie.com) last year, saying: “And after the creative experience we had with Infinity War and Endgame, it felt like it was about capping a saga. Saving back-to-back Avengers films for the completion of a saga. And that’s really what we wanted to lay out today.”
Avengers: The Kang Dynasty loses its director
One of those upcoming Avengers movies will need a new director. Deadline reported on Wednesday that Destin Daniel Cretton has decided to step away” from Avengers: The Kang Dynasty “to focus on his other Marvel projects.”
While Deadline notes that the departure was “amicable” and that Cretton “remains fully in the Marvel Studios family,” you have to wonder if there’s some kind of reformulating of the next Avengers movie that would cause Cretton, who directed Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, to step aside.
Is Marvel shifting away from Kang? Marvel Studios doesn’t quite seem to know what to do with Kang as played by Jonathan Majors. We’ve seen reports about possibly recasting Majors or even shifting to another villain like Doctor Doom. The latter theory got a bit more backing this week thanks to a new episode of Joanna Robinson’s House of R podcast. (Robinson is the coauthor of MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios in addition to being a longtime expert across pop culture.) According to Robinson (via Forbes), Marvel Studios pulled Jeff Loveness from Avengers: The Kang Dynasty writing duties since the studio plans to move in a different direction from Kang. Read the article at Forbes.
There were reports back in May that Loveness, a former Rick and Morty writer who penned Quantumania for Marvel Studios, had left Kang Dynasty, so this fits in with the narrative that began before the WGA strike.
I’m putting together a team: If Marvel Studios really sees Kang Dynasty/Secret Wars as the next version of Infinity War/Endgame, they need to settle on a single writing/directing team to handle the two films. The two-part finale to the Infinity Saga felt seamless because both films were written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.
🏆 Kimmel set to host the Oscars for the fourth time
Jimmy Kimmel will host the Oscars for the fourth time, the Academy announced on Wednesday. The ABC late-night host previously MC’d the Academy Awards in 2017, 2018 and 2023.
“I always dreamed of hosting the Oscars exactly four times,” Kimmel said in a statement.
- Live. Host. Repeat. With his fourth hosting gig, Kimmel moves into a tie with Whoopi Goldberg and Jack Lemmon for most times hosting the Oscars. Only Johnny Carson (five times), Billy Crystal (nine times) and Bob Hope (nineteen times) have hosted more Academy Awards ceremonies.
“There might be a Frozen IV in the works, too”
The list of things we don’t know about Frozen III is lengthy: The plot, the directors, the actors, the songs, a release date. But on Thursday, we learned one important thing: It has a sequel.
“Well, I’ll give you a little surprise there Michael. Frozen III is in the works and there might be a Frozen IV in the works, too,” Disney CEO Bob Iger told Michael Strahan during Thursday’s Good Morning America. “But, I don’t have much to say about those films right now. But [Jennifer Lee], who created Frozen — the original Frozen and Frozen II — is hard at work with her team at Disney Animation on not one but actually two stories.”
🎞️🕸️ Madame Web spins its first trailer
Woo boy. The first trailer for Madame Web, the latest installment in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe Without Spider-Man, debuted on Wednesday. If you like superhero movies straight out of the early 2000s that mangle characters’ source material, Madame Web looks perfect for you.
Madame Web somehow snagged actors like Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney and Adam Scott into its web, which I’m guessing happens whenever actors and their agents mistake an offer to be in a Marvel movie with an offer to be in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie.
“[Really] not ready for the Madame Web post credits stinger to introduce Julia Carpenter, Mattie Franklin and Anya Corazon to Jared Leto’s Mister Doctor Michael Morbius so he can warn them about Morlun and oh my god I think my brain just fell out the back of my skull,” io9 Deputy Editor James Whitbrook wrote on Twitter, perfectly nailing the state of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe Without Spider-Man.
🎞️❓ What If…? returns for a second season
While it didn’t quite stick the landing (and turned out to be inconsequential to Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness), the first season of What If…? was a lot of fun and gave the MCU some needed space to flex new creative muscles.
Marvel Studios dropped the first trailer for What If…?’s second season on Tuesday — and it looks like things are going to be even wilder this season.
- Nine days of
ChristmasWhat If…?: The second season will kick off on Dec. 22, with a new episode releasing every day through Dec. 30.
Harley Quinn renewed for a fifth season
Oh man, I need to finish Harley Quinn Season 4, especially now that Warner Bros. has announced that a fifth season is on the way.
“We’re thrilled that the news of Harley and Ivy’s continuing misadventures is finally out and we can stop telling people in secret,” executive producers Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker and Dean Lorey said in a statement “We must have handed out at least three thousand NDAs by now. It was a big waste of paper.”
💩 What the world needs: An Elon Musk biopic
Whether he’s destroying a valued social media network, promoting an AI chatbot with dad humor or agreeing with antisemitism posts, people love talking about Elon Musk. If all goes well, we’ll soon be able to watch a movie chronicling the life of the world’s smartest man. Variety reported last week that The Whale director Darren Aronofsky will helm a Musk biopic for A24.
- Going to the source: Aronofsky’s movie will be based on the creatively named Elon Musk, the recent biography from Walter Isaacson. (The book that Isaacson has already had to issue a correction on.) This will be the second Isaacson biography turned into a movie, with his Steve Jobs book being adapted by Danny Boyle.
🎞️ Rebel Moon goes to war
Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire is the first movie in Zack Snyder’s upcoming saga over at Netflix. (Does anyone else find the Snyderification of the Netflix logo at the beginning of this trailer as funny as I do?) Rebel Moon began its life as a treatment Snyder wrote for a Star Wars movie, and knowing that, I can’t watch this trailer without trying to guess what each part would’ve looked like had Lucasfilm gone ahead with it.
🗓️ Superman: Legacy stays on track for July 2025 release
James Gunn revealed via his social media channels this week that, despite the writers and actors work stoppages, his upcoming Superman movie is still slated for its July 2025 release.
“Thanks to the efforts of our talented crew, who never lost faith during the longest strikes in Hollywood history, and who never let their foot off the pedal, continuing to barrel forward, creating the most amazing character and set designs I’ve seen in my entire career, [Superman: Legacy] will be making the originally planned release date of July 11, 2025,” the director and co-chief of DC Studios wrote. Read the post on Threads.
“That’s too dark for me”: In the weeks and months leading up to the announcement that David Corenswet had won the coveted lead role in Gunn’s Superman: Legacy, speculation ran wild over which actor would follow in the footsteps of Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill. Euphoria’s Jacob Elordi was a name that came up early, and it turns out he was asked to read for Gunn.
Engineering a villain: María Gabriela de Faría will play The Engineer in Superman: Legacy. Read the article at Deadline.
Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow hires a writer: Meanwhile, Superman’s cousin’s movie took its next step, with Ana Nogueira being hired to write Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow. Read the article at The Hollywood Reporter.
“A hearty welcome”: Gunn confirmed the hiring via his social media platforms, calling Nogueira’s script “above and beyond anything I hoped it would be.” Read the post on Threads.
Taika Waititi ‘won't be involved’ with another Thor movie
If a fifth Thor movie ever pops onto the MCU slate, don’t expect Taikia Waititi to be directing it.
“I wouldn’t know if that’s accurate,” the Thor: Ragnarok and Thor: Love and Thunder director told Business Insider when asked about rumors that he was returning for another sequel. “I know that I won’t be involved.”
- “Still marinating”: Waititi also gave an update on the Star Wars movie that he’s been working on, saying: “It's still marinating. I've been writing it.”
CHALAMET! MOMOA! SNL!
“When I get excited, I forget my pants”
Jason Momoa was a blast to watch when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 2018. Based on the promo for his upcoming hosting gig, it looks like he’s having a blast too.
Building Giant Horse
Long live Tiny/Giant Horse.
- Elon Musk’s Disturbing ‘Truth’ (Yair Rosenberg, The Atlantic)
- When The O.C. Killed Marissa: “What Have We Done?” (Alan Sepinwall, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, Vanity Fair)
- Godzilla reigns eternal thanks to years of tiny design changes (Daniel Dockery, Polygon)
- Stop Trying to Get Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to Run for President! (Kayleigh Donaldson, The Daily Beast)
- How TMZ Became Hollywood’s Grim Reaper (Gary Baum, Ryan Gajewski and Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter)
- “Are We Alone?”: From Roswell to Oumuamua, Garrett Graff Traces the Long Hunt for Alien Life (Joe Pompeo, Vanity Fair)
- Sphere and Loathing in Las Vegas (Charlie Warzel, The Atlantic)
AND FINALLY …
Young Sheldon will soon bazinga his last bazinga. (Does Young Sheldon say “bazinga” on Young Sheldon? Or is that something they’ve reserved for just the original Big Bang Theory, kind of like George Lucas not doing the star blur as ships jump to hyperspace in the Star Wars prequel trilogy?) CBS announced on Tuesday that Young Sheldon will end after a seven-season run.
- Another Bang: The Big Bang franchise will return to bazinga again, with a new series coming to Max in the future. Will it be about Sheldon Prime? Old Sheldon? Sideways Sheldon?