Hey, we made it to Friday, which means this is the first Friday edition of Popculturology. (It’s basically the same as the Thursday newsletter, just a day later now.)
This is another packed edition. The Mandalorian finale. The Jonathan Majors situation. A wild title for the Godzilla vs. Kong sequel. There’s even a bit of Kermit the Frog as a treat at the end of the newsletter.
With so much going on in the world of pop culture, there are going to be things that don’t make Popculturology. I’m trying to be more selective about what shows and movies get mentioned in the Playlist section. Sometimes I want to watch TV without taking notes.
The new season of Dave is one of those shows. It’s a great show. I think we’ve watched it since its first season. We’ve caught up with the three episodes of the latest season, and I think it’s just as funny and creative as it has been. But I gotta have a few shows that I turn my brain off during.
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- Feature Presentation: The Mandalorian breezes through its season finale
- Bonus Feature: Jonathan Majors’ MCU future
- The News: James Gunn’s Superman movie enters preproduction, Adam Driver might be Reed Richards
- Trailer Watch: Fast X, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire
- Playlist: Ted Lasso, Abbott Elementary, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Once & Always
- What to Watch: Chris Evans and Ana de Armas reunite for Ghosted
- Odds and Ends: Barry goes to Dave & Busters, Kermit’s essentials
Welp, that was a Mandalorian season finale …
From afar, the third season of The Mandalorian was pretty cool. Gideon returned and was rocking Mandalorian armor with Maul horns. Din Djarin fought some space pirates with his Naboo starfighter. Grogu got to pilot IG-11’s corpse around the galaxy and even used the Force. And the show nailed live-action Bo-Katan, especially when she was wielding the Darksaber.
Up close, though, The Mandalorian’s third season was a directionless mess.
The Season 3 finale backed up the growing sense this year that The Mandalorian had lost its way, flying through a brisk episode while checking off plot points as quickly as possible.
Din saved from Gideon’s forces? Done.
Gideon defeated? Done.
Mandalore reclaimed? Done.
Grogu and Din together again? Done.
It was a fitting end to a season that’s been frustrating to watch. So frustrating that at times I’ve asked whether the season was even supposed to exist — and if it and when it was, was Grogu even supposed to be part of it?
With The Mandalorian seemingly building toward Dave Filoni’s movie (a real movie! in theaters!) pitting the New Republic against the Imperial remnant, fans expected to see Ahsoka and Sabine join the fight to reclaim Mandalore or witness Thrawn return to take control of the Shadow Council at the end of the episode.
Should those things happen in The Mandalorian? Not really, but with the way this season has existed to put the necessary pieces for that movie into play, fans weren’t wrong to expect the Season 3 finale to do just that.
Collider’s Maggie Lovitt called “The Return” the “most ‘toys in a sandbox’ the series has ever felt.” When Season 3 began, I summed the state of The Mandalorian up as Jon Favreau refusing to put away his favorite toys. Watching things like R5-D4 playing a major role and IG-11 being resurrected (not as a baby carrier this time) backs that up. And despite warnings that the season finale “might just hurt too much,” none of our heroes died. I don’t even trust that Gideon is actually dead, thanks to his beskar armor and the franchise’s recent history with clone resurrections.
Where does The Mandalorian go from here? (If it goes anywhere. We haven’t gotten news from Lucasfilm about a fourth season.) Does the show fill the void left by the cancelation of Gina Carano’s Rangers of the New Republic series? The finale ended with Din pitching himself and Grogu to Carson Teva as independent contractors to hunt down parts of the Imperial remnant. Is the show done with the Armorer, Bo-Katan and the Mandalorian homeworld?
If and when The Mandalorian returns, I hope it’s with newfound purpose.
Season 3 of The Mandalorian wasn’t short on beautifully shot sequences. Whether it was Bo-Katan lounging in her castle or the Mandalorian fleet dipping through the clouds, the visuals of this season were fantastic.
In my notes for this episode, I wrote at one point “use the damn Force, Grogu.” While he did at the end of the episode on the Praetorian Guards and Gideon and to save his dad and mom (I refuse to not recognize Bo-Katan as his mom), this is the character who spent Season 1 Force choking Cara Dune and tossing Stormtroopers around. Did Luke’s training remove that embrace of power?
How is “Din” suddenly Din Djarin’s last name? That came out of nowhere.
We didn’t see Pedro Pascal’s face once this entire season.
“The Darksaber is gone. You’ve lost everything. Mandalorians are weak once they lose their trinkets.” — Gideon to Bo-Katan
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‘Zero conversations in the Marvel camp to drop Majors from the MCU’
Avengers: The Kang Dynasty isn’t scheduled to hit theaters until May 2025. I’d be shocked if Majors is in the title role by then.
Weeks after his arrest on domestic violence charges, Majors finds himself being dropped by various agencies, losing projects and potentially facing additional allegations of abuse.
Variety reported on Wednesday that sources have told them that “multiple alleged abuse victims of Majors have come forward following his March arrest and are cooperating with the Manhattan district attorney’s office.”
This comes after Majors was dropped by his longtime talent agent, according to Deadline. The outlet reported on Tuesday that Majors had also been let go from the movie The Man in My Basement, an ad campaign for the Texas Rangers and a potential Otis Redding biopic. Majors’ PR agency and a fashion house have already parted ways from the actor, along with the U.S. Army removing him from their recruitment campaign.
Since news broke of Majors’ arrest, there’s been the question of whether Marvel Studios will break from him too. Majors plays Kang, already appearing in Loki’s first season and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. With Kang slotted to be the overall villain across the Multiverse Saga, Majors is virtually the face the of the MCU franchise for the next few years — and according to Deadline, that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.
Majors has already shot the second season of Marvel/Disney+’s Loki, in which he reprises his uber-villain role of Kang the Conqueror, and won’t go before the cameras in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty for quite some time. Deadline hears there’s been zero conversations in the Marvel camp to drop Majors from the MCU.
The career repercussions that Majors has already experienced over his arrest are a stark contrast to how Ezra Miller has been treated after their controversial few years leading up to The Flash’s release.
Majors has shot his scenes for the second season of Loki, but after that there’s enough time before The Kang Dynasty hit theaters to recast the role.
“I think the truth is everyone is waiting to see what Marvel will do,” an industry insider familiar with the situation told Variety. “It doesn’t mean everyone will do the same thing, but that’s what people are looking to.”
It feels like Marvel and Disney are waiting to see where this goes with Majors, possibly hoping they can wait this out until they’re either forced to make a move or people forget about the charges. The news of additional victims coming forward are going to make that method difficult.
It’s hard to see a future, though, where Majors remains attached to the MCU.
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Superman: Legacy enters preproduction
James Gunn celebrated the 85th anniversary of Superman’s debut on Tuesday to reveal that his upcoming Superman movie had reached the preproduction stage.
“I’m honored to be a part of the legacy,” Gunn tweeted. “And what better day than #SupermanAnniversary Day to dive fully into early pre-production on [Superman: Legacy]? Costumes, production design, and more now up and running.”
I can’t wait to see what Gunn does with this story. Man of Steel was bursting with potential, but we never got to see the Henry Cavill version of the character in a great Superman movie.
The Russo brothers would be up to direct the new Batman movie. While chatting with ComicBook, Joe and Anthony Russo expressed interest in working on Batman. “Obviously [James Gunn] over there running it, it would be a no-brainer,” Joe said when asked about working on a DC movie.
Is Adam Driver the MCU’s Reed Richards?
We may finally be getting close to some real casting new for the MCU’s Fantastic Four reboot. Daniel Ritchman, a pretty reliable scooper, reported this week that Adam Driver is in final talks to play Reed Richards (via TheDirect).
While John Krasinski played Richards in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, that casting was never meant to go beyond being a cameo. (Lots of variants in the MCU these days, and they don’t have to be played be the same actor.)
What do you all think of Driver as Mr. Fantastic? Is he right for the role? Or does it seem like a stretch? (I’m sorry.)
Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh will star in a Star Trek movie
With the exception of the Chris Pine movies, I’ve never been a Star Trek person. Nothing against them. Just never caught on for me. It’s a great time to be a Star Trek fan, though. While the movie franchise has stalled, Paramount+ has been rolling out series after series.
The star of one of those series is now getting her own streaming movie. Michelle Yeoh, who recently won as Oscar for Everything Everywhere All at Once, will reprise her Star Trek: Discovery role for Star Trek: Section 31.
“All the way back in 2017, before the first season of Star Trek: Discovery had even aired, Michelle had the idea to do a spin-off for her character, Philippa Georgiou,” executive producer Alex Kurtzman said in a statement. “She broke new ground as one of the first two women on screen in the pilot to usher in a new age of Trek, and now, six years later, Star Trek: Section 31 finally arrives on the heels of her latest groundbreaking win.”
Production on the movie begins later this year.
- There’s a Twilight series in the works. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news on Wednesday. Unclear if it’s a new adaption or a reboot of the books.
- A Galaxy Quest show is also in the works. Everyone gets a TV series now! Paramount+ is developing a series based on the movie. No word yet if it’ll reunite the movie’s cast or be a reboot.
- Louis Leterrier will stick around for the Fast and Furious finale. Variety reported on Wednesday that the Fast X director will helm the eleventh film in the franchise. (Or is it the twelfth? Does Hobbes & Shaw still count?)
- After mastering racing, basketball and soccer, Will Ferrell will tackle golf next. Deadline reported on Wednesday that he’ll play “a professional golfer who becomes the face of a controversial new league competing with the PGA” in an in-development series.
- Halle Berry and Angelina will face off in Maude v Maude. Deadline reported on Tuesday that the duo will star in a movie described to the outlet as “a ‘Bond vs. Bourne’ type of action thriller.”
- Natasha Rothwell returns for The White Lotus Season 3. The HBO series will keep its tradition of bringing a previous season’s actor back for a new season, Variety reported on Wednesday.
- Netflix to cease mailed DVDs. The final discs will ship out a the end of September. Remember when you’d pull a handful of red envelopes out of your mailbox? End of an era.
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Blowing up the Vatican? Jason Momoa looks like he’s having a ton of fun in the new trailer for Fast X.
Fast X opens on May 19.
Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire
Popculturology is a #TeamGodzilla newsletter (Kong had to cheat to beat him), but I’m thrilled to see both the King of Monsters and his buddy in a new teaser trailer for the next film in the Monsterverse franchise. Legendary pictures revealed on Wednesday that the sequel to Godzilla vs. Kong will be called Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.
No, I don’t know what that means.
A synopsis for the movie tells us that the film will pit “the almighty Kong and the fearsome Godzilla against a colossal undiscovered threat hidden within our world, challenging their very existence — and our own.”
Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire opens on March 15, 2024.
💬 💬 💬 Comments, questions or recommendations? Let me know!
I think this was my favorite episode of Ted Lasso this season. No Zava. No Shandy. Just the characters experiencing a night off in Amsterdam.
The montage of Jamie teaching Roy how to ride a bike might be the funniest thing this show has ever done. Brett Goldstein falling over with zero attempt to soften his fall made laugh ever single time.
“Should we all take naps so we can stay up late?” — Danny
Episodes: “Educator of the Year,” “Mom” and “Franklin Institute”
Dang. Just when it looked like Gregory and Janine were finally going to become a couple, Janine chose her work friendship with Gregory over seeing where a relationship could go. It was touching to see Gregory exhibit emotions beyond his usual stoicism, sharing a bro hug and a genuine hug with Jacob.
The funniest part of these episodes? Melissa and the other teachers turning against Jacob for ruining their text thread with his Android phone. Except Janine. Janine’s not allowed in the text thread.
“If you see anymore weeping Millennials roaming the hallway, send them my way.” — Barbara
“I’ve seen better at the boardwalk. I’ve seen a lot at the boardwalk.” — Melissa
“I really want to apologize for how things went down at Bone Town.” — Janine
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Once & Always
Yes, I watched the new Power Rangers Netflix special. For, um, science? If you’re expecting a prestige take on the classic characters (like Power Rangers in Iraq, the franchise relaunch I pitched in college), this is not that special. This is an episode of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers where the cast is a bit older and the special effects are a bit better.
The movie conveniently works around the absences of Jason David Frank (who passed after this special was shot), Amy Jo Johnson and Austin St. John by not only having those characters never remove their helmets but also getting caught by the new Robot Rita Repulsa.
Is Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger: Once & Always worth your time? It depends on how much you want to suffer the realization that your childhood is over and time has passed you by too.
“Oh, you brought friends. Now it’s a reunion.” — Rita Repulsa
- … And You’re Watching the Disney Channel (Jake Kring-Schreifels, The Ringer)
- We’re in Asian America’s peak media moment. But Beef has poisoned the well (Soleil Ho, San Francisco Chronicle)
- Is $63 Million Too Much for Logan Roy’s House? (Christopher Bonanos, Vulture)
- Let’s Face It, a DCU/MCU Crossover Would Be Awful (Douglas Laman, Collider)
- How Ray Romano Liberated Himself From “Sitcom Guy” Status (Mikey O’Connell, The Hollywood Reporter)
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OK, so this is in no way an endorsement of Ghosted. I don’t know if it’s good. I don’t know if it’s bad. I haven’t read any of the reviews. I just like Chris Evans and Ana de Armas. The duo was great together in Knives Out, and while Evans skipped the sweet sweaters for Ghosted, I’m down to see them in action together again.
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Barry’s Dave & Buster’s scene
I saw someone ask on Twitter this week if Barry can still be considered a comedy. As long as they keep doing scenes like Hank and Cristobal’s instantly legendary Dave & Buster’s pitch, Barry is absolutely a comedy.
I’m still not used to Matt Vogel doing Kermit’s voice.
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