Popculturology is back after a week off for Thanksgiving. Hopefully you all had a great holiday weekend and didn’t cap your travels off by getting strep like I did. (I blame the children’s museum we took our daughter to while in Rochester. This one is on you, Strong National Museum of Play …)
Before we left for Thanksgiving, I had time to watch the first episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. Caitlin isn’t interested in this one, so I’m trying to find pockets of time here and there to catch up on it.
I thought the first episode was great, doing an impressive job of weaving not just the various timelines together but also creating some real connective tissue between Kong: Skull Island and 2014’s Godzilla. Showrunner Matt Fraction and director Matt Shakman have, at least through one episode, pulled off the task of bringing the MonsterVerse to TV.
I had to look up who does the show’s score too, since I kept getting notes of The Social Network but I knew it wasn’t Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Turns out it’s Leopold Ross, Atticus’ brother.
After over a decade of living on the platform, I’ve also made my break from Twitter. While I’m still using it as a newsfeed, I can’t in good conscience contribute content and activity to a site that benefits Elon Musk. I’m not the only one who feels that way. Musk’s embrace of antisemitic content and endorsement of dangerous conspiracy theories have led to major companies not just pulling their ads but also ceasing to post on the social media network.
Musk lashed out at these companies on Wednesday, telling The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin that companies who have pulled their ads from Twitter can “go fuck themselves.” You can check out the entire bewildering exchange below.
Yikes. It sounds like Musk didn’t endear himself to advertisers with this tirade.
“[Advertisers are] not coming back [to X]”, Lou Paskalis, the founder and chief executive of AJL Advisory, a marketing consultancy, told The New York Times on Thursday. “There is no advertising value that would offset the reputational risk of going back on the platform.”
As Drew Magary puts it, we’re witnessing the end of Elon Musk.
Twitter may continue to limp on but, for all purposes, the site is dead. I’ve been posting a ton over at Threads (and also occasionally on Bluesky). When Threads launched, I thought it was a disaster. Without a chronological timeline, users were at the mercy of the site’s Instagram-esque algorithm — a huge problem for people who wanted to use the site to follow the news. There also wasn’t a way to access the platform via your web browser.
Meta has fixed both these issues over the past few months, and Threads really seems to be alive now. Yes, it’s still a Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook product, but we all gotta choose our battles.
NEWS, NOTES AND TRAILERS
🎞️ “Do you have it in you to make it epic?”
Yes, Chris Hemsworth, I’m pretty sure Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga has it in it to be an epic movie. The upcoming sequel to Mad Max: Fury Road debuted its first trailer on Thursday night, courtesy of Comic-Con Experience (CCXP) in Brazil.
George Miller returns to direct Furiosa, with Anya Taylor-Joy taking over the title role from Charlize Theron. Hemsworth (and that ridiculous fake nose) plays Dementus, a warlord in the apocalyptic future. It looks like a younger actor is playing Immortan Joe, the decrepit villain from Fury Road.
Furiosa hits theaters on May 24, 2024, which is also the same date that Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is scheduled to open. If Warner Bros. or Disney doesn’t flinch on that release date, it’s going to be a busy weekend for a lot of us. (If anyone has a catchy Barbenheimer nickname for Furiosa/Planet of the Apes weekend, let me know.)1
The future of The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars’ creative teams
When news broke a few weeks ago that Destin Daniel Cretton had stepped away from directing Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, I suggested that if Marvel Studios really saw Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars as a two-part Avengers event comparable to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, they needed to put a single creative team in charge of both movies.
The Russo brothers directed both Infinity War and Endgame with Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely handling the screenplays. (The Russo/Russo/Markus/McFeely team actually stretched back to Captain America: The Winter Solider and Captain America: Civil War, with Markus and McFeely also writing Captain America: The First Avenger.)
Seems like Marvel Studios had the same thought. News broke this week that Michael Waldron had replaced Jeff Loveness as The Kang Dynasty’s screenwriter. Waldron was already on board to pen Secret Wars, meaning one writer is now handling both of the upcoming Avengers movies. Read the article at Deadline.
- A shift in focus? Loveness previously wrote Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. On paper, he looked like the perfect person to write The Kang Dynasty, already handling Kang’s big-screen introduction in Quantumania. Swapping Waldron in, though, leads me to believe that Marvel Studios would rather have someone with experience writing stories about the growing multiverse in charge of The Kang Dynasty. (Probably doesn’t help that Quantumania was widely seen as missing the mark too.) There’s no one better prepared for that challenge than Waldron, as he’s already created Loki and written Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
- About Multiverse of Madness … Waldron might not be the only behind-the-camera talent coming over from the most recent Doctor Strange movie. A rumor from Daniel Richtman (via Murphy’s Multiverse) says that Marvel is considering Sam Raimi as not only the director of Doctor Strange 3 but also The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars. If this comes true, the Multiverse Saga will have its version of Russo/Russo/Markus/McFeely in Waldron/Raimi. Read the article at Murphy’s Multiverse.
Is Nicholas Hoult our next Lex Luthor?
Casting for James Gunn’s Superman: Legacy has been flying along. David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan are playing Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane. We even know that Nathan Fillion is playing Guy Gardner, one of the DC universe’s many Green Lanterns. There’s been a lot of speculation over who — if anyone — will play Lex Luthor, Superman’s arch nemesis.
According to a report that broke right before Thanksgiving, Nicholas Hoult is our guy. No stranger to superhero movies, Hoult previously played Hank McCoy/Beast in the X-Men: First Class run of X-Men movies. He was even reputedly a finalist to be Gunn’s Superman. Read the article at Deadline.
- Gunn’s silence: The thing about the news that Hoult is playing Lex Luthor, though, is that Gunn has yet to weigh in on it. The writer/director/co-chief of DC Studios is extremely forthcoming on social media when it comes to casting news, but he’s yet to confirm this one. He even recently posted a bit of a warning when it comes to casting rumors. Read Gunn’s post on Threads.
- ‘Wanted a movie star’: Another report not only confirms the casting but also notes that Gunn “wanted a movie star to play Lex Luthor” and talked about the role with Bradley Cooper. Gunn and Cooper, of course, spent a decade working on the Guardians of the Galaxy movies together. Read the article at The InSneider.
- Gunn confirms Jimmy Olsen, Eve Teschmacher: As I said before, Gunn has had no problem confirming much of the Superman: Legacy casting news. He did just that with the news that The Righteous Gemstones star Skyler Gisondo will play Jimmy Olsen and model Sara Sampaio will play Eve Teschmacher. Read James Gunn’s post on Threads.
Academy sets earlier time for the Oscars
One way to keep the Oscars from running too late? Start the broadcast an hour earlier.
The Academy announced on Thursday that the 96th Oscars will begin at 7 p.m. ET instead of the usual 8 p.m. start time.
“A 30-minute pre-show will lead into the live show (6:30-7:00 p.m. EDT/3:30-4:00 p.m. PDT), and immediately following, ABC will air an original episode of the Emmy Award-winning comedy series Abbott Elementary,” the Academy said in a statement. “The telecast will also be rebroadcast in the Pacific Time zone in primetime after the live presentation.”
The Oscars take place on March 10, 2024, with Jimmy Kimmel returning to host.
🎞️🧸 Peacock sends Ted to school
Whoa, Max from Parenthood is all grown up now. I had to Wikipedia this show since I knew the actor playing a younger version of John looked very familiar but I couldn’t place it. Never did I imagine while watching Parenthood that Max Braverman (Max Burkholder) would grow up to be Mark Wahlberg.
“No truth to those rumors”
We’ll surely continue to speculate over the possibility of Christopher Nolan directing a James Bond film, but the Oppenheimer director once again tamped down those rumors.
“No, sadly no — no truth to those rumors,” Nolan told The Associated Press (via The Hollywood Reporter) while promoting the home release of his latest film.
I dunno. Until a director is actually announced for the first film in Bond’s post-Daniel Craig era, this is a Schrödinger’s cat situation: Nolan is both directing and not directing the film at the same time.
Godzilla x Kong posters reveal new look at Skar King
With CCXP kicking off in Brazil yesterday, a slew of new trailers should be on their way. With Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire one of those expected trailers, Legendary got the promotional machine going this week. The studio debuted three new posters for the Godzilla vs. Kong sequel, giving us new looks at Skar King (the film’s villain) and Godzilla and Kong.
I cannot wait to see Godzilla demolish Skar King. (This is a staunchly #TeamGodzilla newsletter.)
News broke before Thanksgiving that Universal Pictures is working on a new Jason Bourne movie, with All Quiet on the Western Front’s Edward Berger in talks to direct. Deadline notes that no script exists yet and Matt Damon “would be approached first to return in the iconic role once a script is finished.”
If Damon didn’t return, would Universal try to relaunch the franchise with another actor again? The Jeremy Renner-anchored Bourne Legacy was a dead end.
The Bourne franchise has been dormant since 2016’s Jason Bourne, a film that did financially well but failed to live up to the lofty critical acclaim bestowed upon the original trilogy.
🛩️ Drowning snags Bourne director
While the Jason Bourne franchise finds new life with Edward Berger as its director, Paul Greengrass, who directed every Matt Damon Bourne movie except the original Bourne Identity, has found his next project.
Deadline reported on Tuesday that Greengrass will adapt and direct Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 421. I haven’t read the book from author (and former flight attendant) T.J. Newman, but it was a hot property, sparking a bidding war upon its release.
Timothy Olyphant joins Alien TV show
Justified (and Girl Next Door) star Timothy Olyphant has joined the iconic Alien franchise. Deadline broke the news earlier this week that Olyphant will play “Kirsh, a synth who acts as a mentor and trainer” in the upcoming FX series from Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley. (I have no idea what that means either …)
This show shouldn’t be confused with Alien: Romulus, the upcoming Alien movie helmed by Evil Dead director Fede Álvarez.
🗓️ Dune sequel shifts to earlier date
Had Warner Bros. and the other studios quickly agreed to a fair deal with the writers and actors, we could’ve had Dune: Part Two in theaters in early November. Instead, the studio pushed the sequel into 2024. Turns out the wait won’t be as long as expected with Legendary announcing that Dune: Part Two will now premiere on March 1, 2024.
Michael B. Jordan will return to direct Creed IV
I haven’t seen an official announcement for a fourth Creed movie from MGM, but according to the franchise’s producer (no, surprisingly not Sylvester Stallone) Creed IV is in the works and star Michael B. Jordan will return as its director.
“He did such a great job — he was comfortable with the camera,” Irwin Winkler said during Deadline’s Contenders Film: Los Angeles event.
Emma Stone reveals the secret to comedy
Emma Stone joins the Saturday Night Live Five-Timers Club this week, appearing as the show’s host for the first time since April 13, 2019. Her promo for the episode is a quick one without any SNL castmembers.
Adam Driver and Kate McKinnon set to host
SNL announced on Wednesday that Adam Driver will host the show on Dec. 9 (his fourth time) and Kate McKinnon will host on Dec. 16 (her first time).
I’ve actually been noodling on a post looking at people who need to host SNL again, and Driver was high on that list. Back to the drawing board on that one …
The story behind “Washington’s Dream”
I’m still kicking myself for not naming “Washington’s Dream” as the top sketch of Nate Bargatze’s episode. I missed that IndieWire chatted with SNL’s Mikey Day and Street Seidell earlier this month about the creation of the sketch.
In the Deep SNL Thoughts on Bargatze’s episode, I asked: “Do they have an evergreen file or was this brainstormed during the writing sessions for Bargatze’s episode?” Turns out the answer is the former.
“I wrote a draft of it last season,” Seidell told IndieWire. “I forget who we originally wrote it for, but it was very much a dramatic actor who would play more of a serious Washington.”
- Four Years, 30,000 Kids, Countless Bricks: Inside the Quest for the Next Hit Lego Set (Trefor Moss, The Wall Street Journal)
- Travis Kelce Opens Up About Taylor Swift and His Life After the NFL (J.R. Moehringer, Wall Street Journal)
- Everybody Knows Flo From Progressive. Who Is Stephanie Courtney? (Caity Weaver, The New York Times)
- Russell Brand’s Alternate Reality (Matt Flegenheimer, The New York Times)
- The Strange $55 Million Saga of a Netflix Series You’ll Never See (John Carreyrou, The New York Times)
- How Comic Book Legend Matt Fraction Brought Godzilla to TV With Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (William Goodman, Men’s Health)
- Matt Rife Wants Men to Like Him — So He Punches Down at Women (Coulette Fountain, The Daily Beast)
- Why the NFL Is Using Thanksgiving to Expand Its Halftime Show Ambitions (Alex Weprin, The Hollywood Reporter)
AND FINALLY …
Sesame Street answers your important questions
Our daughter has gotten super into Sesame Street over the past few months, which was a welcome relief from Ms. Rachel and Blippi. (I’m sorry if those two names are ones you recognize.) I’ve quickly become familiar with the current age of Sesame Street where Elmo rules all but is kind enough to include Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, Oscar and Grover on his adventures.
While I grew up with Muppets like Ernie, Bert and Big Bird as the stars of Sesame Street, seeing the current stars of the show answer Wired’s Autocomplete Interview was still enjoyable. One of my life goals is to meet Cookie Monster. Not someone in a Cookie Monster costume, but the real Cookie Monster.
- Speaking of Cookie Monster: The New York Times published a piece this week breaking down how the show makes Cookie Monster’s favorite food. Turns out they’re mostly edible … Read the article at The New York Times.
The Garfield Movie opens the same weekend, so bonus points for incorporating that title. ↩