Is it safe to go outside? Does the air still taste like burning?
I’ve been holed up all week thanks to the Canadian wildfires that sent a wave of smoke and hazardous air down the eastern region of the United States. (Who was responsibly for raking those forests? Someone’s slacking on the job …) While we’ve been lucky to avoid New York City’s sepia-toned skies in Northern Virginia, we’ve clocked our fair share of purple and deep red warnings on AirNow.gov.
Funny how suddenly everyone is interested in Blade Runner 2049 now. Where were you all when the movie only grossed $92 million in North America?
Anyways, welcome to a Friday edition of Popculturology. There’s a ton going on in the world of pop culture. I’m already behind on the first two episodes of the new season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but with HBO in a lull between Succession and The Righteous Gemstones (no, I’m not going to waste my time watching The Idol), Sunday should be a good time to catch up.
Looking ahead to the summer, Popculturology will be taking a few vacations of its own. After the Friday, June 23 edition hits your inboxes in two weeks, I’m going to take a break until the Friday, July 7 edition.
There’s still plenty of time before that break, though, and you won’t want to miss any of the upcoming editions of Popculturology. For $5 a month or $50 a year, this subscription brings you the two weekly editions of the newsletter plus Deep SNL Thoughts and The Box Office Report.
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- Feature Presentation: Ahsoka sets a premiere date
- Bonus Feature: The kid who animated a Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse scene
- The News: Sasha Calle wants to keep playing Supergirl, Zack Snyder pitched a Star Wars film, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny isn’t tracking well
- Trailer Watch: The Afterparty, Sympathy for the Devil
- Playlist: Dave
- What to Watch: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts?
Ahsoka coming to Disney+ on Aug. 23
When Ahsoka Tano first appeared in the animated The Clone Wars film back in 2008, no one would’ve ever suspected that 15 years later she’d be starring in her own live-action series on Disney+.
Besides obvious things like “there had never been a live-action Star Wars series” and “what’s Disney+?” the character was poorly received by Star Wars fans. The character and fans grew together, though, before becoming not only one of the most popular characters in all of Star Wars but also a key figure whose story weaves through the Clone Wars, the age of Rebellion and now into the era after the fall of the Empire.
Ahsoka made the jump into live action during the second season of The Mandalorian, with Rosario Dawson taking responsibility for the character after Ashley Eckstein had voiced her in every prior appearance.
Lucasfilm revealed this week the exact date when Dawson’s live-action Ahsoka will return in own her series. We previously knew that the series was coming in August, and now we know that Ahsoka will premiere on Aug. 23.
Dawson isn’t the only actor bringing a previous Star Wars character into the realm of live action. We’re going to see Sabine Wren, Hera Syndulla, Thrawn and Ezra Bridger return, with Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Lars Mikkelsen and Eman Esfandi bringing them to life.
Ahsoka will also feature Hayden Christensen, but it’s hasn’t been revealed whether he’ll be playing Anakin Skywalker or Darth Vader. There may be some flashbacks in the show. There may also be some time travel based on Ahsoka’s previous experience with the World Between Worlds, an otherworldly realm introduced in Star Wars Rebels that allows characters to go between different moments in time.
I can’t wait for this show. It’s wild to see Ahsoka having this moment after how the character debuted.
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The Lego scene in Across the Spider-Verse? A 14-year-old fan animated it. (And will Beyond the Spider-Verse get pushed back?)
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is packed with different Spider-Man universes — including a world of Lego pieces of minifigures. One of the coolest parts about the Lego scenes (besides, you know, them being Lego) was that they were animated by Preston Mutanga, a 14-year-old fan.
The New York Times published a feature on Mutanga on Wednesday, telling the story of how he caught the attention of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller with his recreation of an Across the Spider-Verse trailer in Lego form, which eventually led to producer Christina Steinberg reaching out to Mutanga and asking him to animate this sequence.
“We found out that it was a 14-year-old kid who made it and we were like, ‘This looks incredibly sophisticated for a nonadult, nonprofessional to have made,” Miller told The New York Times. “It blew us all away, including some of the best animators in the world.”
“The Lego Movie is inspired by people making films with Lego bricks at home,” Lord added. “That’s what made us want to make the movie. Then the idea in Spider-Verse is that a hero can come from anywhere. And here comes this heroic young person who’s inspired by the movie that was inspired by people like him.”
Will we see more of Mutanga’s work in Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse? The sequel is currently slated for March 29, 2024, but I have a hunch Sony will wisely push the film back to a later date.
In addition to there being less than a year between the release dates for Across the Spider-Verse and Beyond the Spider-Verse, Hailee Steinfeld recently told The Hollywood Reporter that she hasn’t started recording Gwen Stacy’s lines for the third Spider-Verse movie yet.
“Uh, nope!” she told THR. “As you can imagine, this has been an ongoing thing since the moment the first one came out. There’s been so much focus, and everyone’s blood, sweat, and tears has been put into making this the most incredible and best version of itself that it can be.”
Across the Spider-Verse directors Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson also recently hinted to Variety that they weren’t sure about that March 29 date.
Please, Sony, give everyone involved with Beyond the Spider-Verse all the time they need to make the film perfect.
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Will Sasha Calle continue as Supergirl in James Gunn’s DCU?
I’ve seen a few reviews of The Flash that highlight Sasha Calle’s Supergirl as one of the highlights of the film. The actress clearly loves the role, telling Entertainment Weekly how much she’d love to keep playing Supergirl.
“I love her deeply! And I think that [The Flash] is really a runway to a bigger story for her,” Calle told EW in a recent interview. “We don't really get to experience a lot. I feel like this is a runway to a bigger story. Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, by Tom King, is an incredible comic. I love it. I think it’s so cool. So yeah, I would hope to continue. I hope to continue playing Supergirl for sure.”
Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow is a fantastic story. I picked up a copy last summer and finally read it a few months ago. I’m not as familiar with Supergirl as other characters, so this story by King, Bilquis Evely and Mat Lopes was the perfect introduction to her world.
James Gunn has already revealed that Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow will be the inspiration for a film in the rebooted DCU — but will Calle have a shot at playing the character in the future?
From what we know, Gunn and Peter Safran are pretty much recasting every character that isn’t connected to Gunn’s The Suicide Squad movie and Peacemaker spinoff series. The Flash characters, though, occupy a mysterious space, with director Andy Muschietti insisting that Ezra Miller will continue as Barry Allen/The Flash in any future sequel.
I obviously don’t know how The Flash ends and how that film resets the status quo for the DCU, but if the story makes sense, it would be weird to ditch Calle while keeping Miller.
Who’s in the running for Superman: Legacy?
Meanwhile, the casting machine for Gunn’s Superman: Legacy continues to move forward. Deadline reported on Thursday that Gunn and Safran will be conducting in-person tests around Father’s Day weekend.
According to Deadline, Nicholas Hoult, David Corenswet and Tom Brittney are in the mix for Clark Kent while Emma Mackey, Rachel Brosnahan and Phoebe Dynevor are in the mix for Lois Lane.
We’ve heard most of these names before, but Hoult was previously reported as a lock for Lex Luthor, not Superman himself. (Hoult also seems a bit older than what people expected Gunn to target for this project, but he’d sync up well with Brosnahan if the project skews a bit older.)
Zack Snyder really did pitch a Star Wars movie to Lucasfilm
Shortly after Disney purchased Lucasfilm back in 2012, there were a lot of reports about just what Disney would do with Star Wars. In addition to the announced sequel trilogy, there were rumors of movies about Boba Fett and Yoda while a ton of names of directors flew around.
For years, though, that rumor has been considered as debunked, that Snyder was never involved with Star Wars.
Turns out he actually did make that pitch to Lucasfilm. Vanity Fair’s Anthony Breznican revealed just what went down with Snyder and Star Wars in a new piece focused on Rebel Moon, Snyder’s Netflix project:
Another reason he’s so accepting of the comparison is … once upon a time, even Snyder thought of Rebel Moon as Zack Snyder’s Star Wars. That’s how he pitched it to Lucasfilm more than a decade ago, just before Disney acquired the company and began making new movies.
“I was in postproduction on Man of Steel,” Snyder says. “I had heard there were rumblings about possibly doing another three [Star Wars] movies at some point. My take was that, if you just let me have the IP, I’ll make this cool movie, and I won’t get in the way of anything that you guys are doing.” In other words, his proposed film would feature original characters and a new storyline that didn’t necessarily impact or disrupt any of the existing Star Wars canon.
Snyder first met with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy shortly before the company’s sale, and he later sat down with Disney’s then studio chief, Alan Horn, after the acquisition. While Snyder felt their reactions to his idea were promising, both the filmmaker and Lucasfilm ultimately decided it wasn’t going to work out.
Snyder doing a Star Wars movie would’ve had a massive butterfly effect across pop culture. He probably would’ve been too busy to make Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. There would’ve never been the toxic Snyder Cut movement online. The DCEU would’ve gone in a completely different direction under different creative leadership. And maybe a standalone Star Wars movie fully detached from the core characters and storylines could’ve changed the prospects for the Star Wars films themselves.
Evan Peters joins Tron: Ares in ‘major’ role
Besides it starring Jared Leto and being directed by Joachim Rønning, we know very little up Tron: Ares. The third Tron film will be a sequel to Tron: Legacy, but so far none of the actors from that movie, including Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde and Jeff Bridges, have been connected to this version of the film.
An exclusive from Giant Freakin Robot might be our latest piece of news on Tron: Ares, with the site reporting that X-Men and WandaVision star Evan Peters has joined the cast in what they call a “major” role.
“One possible role for Evan Peters that stands out,” Giant Freakin Robot writes, “considering the production timetable of Tron: Ares, is that he could be replacing Cillian Murphy, who makes an uncredited appearance as Edward Dillinger Jr. in Tron: Legacy.”
There had a been a recent report claiming that Murphy would reprise his role from Tron: Legacy, so this would be a shakeup of what so far was Tron: Ares’ only casting connection to its predecessor.
Honestly, I expect Tron: Ares to flop. Besides Leto’s inability to carry a franchise film, Disney’s unwillingness to embrace Tron: Legacy — its cast, its Daft Punk score — is going to alienate fans of that movie. And if you’re not making another Tron film with the people who have kept that film in the pop culture conversation for the last decade, who are you making it for?
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny tracking behind Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
People had a lot of complaints about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It relied too much on CGI. It undid Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’s perfect ending. It was too Shia LaBeouf-y.
None of that stopped Crystal Skull from being a massive box office hit. After a $100.1 million opening weekend, the fourth Indiana Jones film went on to a $786.6 million worldwide haul.
I don’t think Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is going to have that same level of success. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the fifth (and final?) Indy film is tracking for an opening weekend somewhere in the $60 million to $70 million range.
While an opening weekend like this wouldn’t necessarily kill a film’s chances at being a box office hit, Dial of Destiny is going to have a ton of competition, having to share screens with The Little Mermaid, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, The Flash and Elemental before Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One, Barbie and Oppenheimer join the mix over the following month.
- A Brave New World for Captain America. There’s been rumors for a few weeks that the fourth Captain America film had dropped its “New World Order” subtitle, but Anthony Mackie (Captain America himself!) confirmed the news on Tuesday.
- Disney conjuring up Hocus Pocus 3. It took Disney almost three decades to make a second Hocus Pocus movie. The studio isn’t waiting that long to make a third one. The New York Times revealed last week that Hocus Pocus 3 is in the works. TheWrap then reported on Wednesday that Anne Fletcher and Jen D’Angelo will return to direct and write the next sequel.
- Bob’s Burgers actor arrested for Jan. 6 insurrection. Damn you, Jimmy Pesto! Jay Johnston, the voice behind the Bob’s Burgers character, has been charged with felony obstruction of officers during civil disorder as well as several misdemeanor offenses, according to NBC News.
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If you haven’t watched the first season of The Afterparty yet, I highly recommend it. Created by Christopher Miller (of the Christopher Miller and Phil Lord duo who have had a hand in The Lego Movie, the Spider-Verse movies and the Jump Street movies), the show is a murder mystery where each episode takes on a different movie or TV genre.
The second season brings Tiffany Haddish, Sam Richardson and Zoë Chao back from the first season while adding stars like Elizabeth Perkins, Zach Woods, Paul Walter Hauser, Poppy Liu, Jack Whitehall, Ken Jeong and John Cho.
The Afterparty Season 2 premieres on Apple TV+ on July 12.
Sympathy for the Devil
Wow, Nicolas Cage is fully unhinged in this one. Like, on the Cage-o-Meter, he’s at a 12 out of 10.
Sympathy for the Devil opens on July 28.
💬 💬 💬 Comments, questions or recommendations? Let me know!
Episode: “Looking for Love”
I haven’t been including Dave in the Playlist this season, but with the season wrapping up last week, I figured it earned the spotlight. Season 3 of Dave took the show from “yeah, this is a pretty good FX series” to “there are notes of Atlanta here.” Dave Burd and the rest of the Dave team really pushed the show into new places over the past ten episodes.
“Looking for Love” was the final piece in that jump to surreal. Tenea Intriago nailed it as a stalker who held both Dave and Brad Pitt hostage for an evening. And we’re giving Pitt an Emmy for guest appearance, right?
While Dave hasn’t been renewed for a fourth season yet, “Looking for Love” could definitely serve as a series finale if Burd goes in that direction.
“Her reality is our reality now, do you understand?” — Brad Pitt
- ‘You’re Batting With Meme Steroids’ (Joe Berkowitz, Vulture)
- Elemental Steps Into the Ring as Major Box Office Test for Pixar (Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter)
- The Binge Purge (Josef Adalian and Lane Brown, Vulture)
- It Took a “Huge Science Project” for What We Do in the Shadows to Bring Back Colin Robinson (Whitney Friedlander, Vanity Fair)
- Across the Spider-Verse’s greatest feat is the way it takes Spider-Man’s fandom to task (Charles Pulliam-Moore, The Verge)
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Transformers: Rise of the Beasts?
I’m intrigued to see if Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a throwback to the louder Michael Bay Transformers movies or something more thoughtful like Travis Knight’s Bumblebee. I don’t have my hopes up. (Honestly, just go see Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.)
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Across the Spider-Verse steelbook up for preorder
No, there’s no such thing as too much Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse content in an edition of Popculturology. The 4K steelbook for the film is available to preorder on Best Buy’s website. These things often sell out, so if you’re planning to add the film to your collection (which is a smart move in an age where studios and streaming services can disappear movies and TV shows), you can’t go wrong with this version.
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