Thursday, July 30, 2015

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Casts Constance Zimmer for Season 3

Is it H.A.M.M.E.R. time for the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

Entertainment Weekly has revealed that the ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has cast Constance Zimmer in a recurring role for its upcoming third season.

According to the article, Zimmer will play "the head of a mysterious new government agency that will cross paths with S.H.I.E.L.D. as both seek out new Inhumans following the events of last season.  Zimmer’s character will go toe-to-toe with Coulson (Clark Gregg) and act as his antagonist when the show returns."  The character will debut in the Season 3 premiere.

Zimmer, 44, is perhaps best known as Dana Gordon on the HBO series Entourage and as Claire Simms on the ABC series Boston Legal.  She currently appears as Quinn King on the series UnREAL, and has appeared on episodes of House of Cards, The Newsroom, Grey's Anatomy, Pushing Daisies, Joan of Arcadia, The X-Files, and Babylon 5.

It's possible that the Marvel Comics' H.A.M.M.E.R. could be the "new government agency" that Zimmer's character is heading.  Created in 2008 by Brian Michael Bendis, H.A.M.M.E.R. is an espionage and law enforcement agency that was originally led by Norman Osborn, a.k.a. The Green Goblin, that was an integral part of the "Dark Reign" and "Siege" storylines that ran from 2008-10.

Following the alien Skrulls' invasion of Earth, a massive restructuring of the United States' defense network was implemented.  At the time, the country's primary peace keeping agency was S.H.I.E.L.D., led by Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man.  However, because the Skrulls were able to compromise S.H.I.E.L.D.'s StarkTech technology, it was decided that S.H.I.E.L.D. was no longer an effective organization and Tony Stark was personally held accountable for the entire Skrull invasion.  As a result, Thunderbolts leader Norman Osborn manipulated the U.S. government into allowing him to serve as director of a replacement agency called H.A.M.M.E.R.  Under Osborn's leadership, H.A.M.M.E.R. had administrative control over a Fifty State Initiative.

H.A.M.M.E.R. has been teased on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. before, with the appearance of Victoria Hand, Osborn's second-in-command, who was played by Saffron Burrows.  Hand first appeared in the Season 1 episode "The Hub," but was later murdered in the episode "Turn, Turn, Turn" by Grant Ward, who revealed himself as a double agent working for HYDRA.

And if H.A.M.M.E.R. does turn out to be the "new government agency," it's most likely that Zimmer's character will turn out to be Diedre Wentworth, better known as the supervillain Superia.  In the comics, Wentworth assumed command of H.A.M.M.E.R. after Osborn is captured and taken into custody.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns to ABC for Season 3 on September 29, 2015.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

SUPERGIRL Casts Chris Browning as Reactron

The Girl of Steel is starting to build her rogues gallery.

Entertainment Weekly reports that the upcoming CBS series Supergirl has cast Chris Browning as Ben Krull, better known to DC Comics fans as the supervillain Reactron.  The character's first appearance will be in the series' third episode, with the potential to recur.

Described in the article as "a deadly adversary of Superman’s from Metropolis, who wears an armored suit powered by nuclear energy," Reactron will "venture to National City to get revenge on Superman by trying to kill Supergirl."

Best known as Gogo on Sons of Anarchy, Browning is a character actor who has appeared in a number of film and television roles, including 3:10 to Yuma (2007), Terminator Salvation, The Book of Eli, Cowboys & Aliens, Ray Donovan, Castle, The 100, Bones, The Bridge and Cold Case.

Created in 1983 by Paul Kupperberg and Carmine Infantino, Reactron first appeared in Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #8 as Ben Krullen, a sergeant serving in the US Army during the Vietnam War, alongside future Doom Patrol member Joshua Clay (Tempest). When Krullen massacred the inhabitants of a Vietnamese village, the shock triggered the activation of Clay's mutant powers.  Clay seemingly destroyed Krullen with his energy blasts, then went AWOL.  Instead of being killed, Krullen was transformed into a being capable of generating radioactive energy and concussive blasts.  Calling himself Reactron, the Living Reactor, he surfaced years later and attacked the Doom Patrol, then later fought Supergirl.

The character was reinvented in 1988 as Benjamin Martin Krull, with much of his original continuity intact except that instead of Supergirl, Reactron fought Power Girl.  He resurfaced as a member of the Suicide Squad, but was once again seemingly destroyed when Deadshot shot holes in his containment suit, causing him to go critical.  He later appeared in the Superman storyline "New Krypton" where he was recruited by General Sam Lane as part of his Project 7734.  Reactron was equipped with a heart made of gold kryptonite and partnered with Metallo (who has a heart of green kryptonite).  Reactron and Metallo attacked the city of New Krypton, where Reactron murdered Zor-El, Supergirl's father.

Supergirl premieres on CBS on Monday, Oct. 26 at 8:30 p.m. EST.

THE FANDOM ZONE 018: "The Man in the Yellow Suit" is Up!

"The man in the yellow suit, he's taken enough from us already.  Don't let him take any more."
-- Henry Allen to Barry Allen, The Flash: "The Man in the Yellow Suit"

As you've probably guessed, Karen Lindsay and I are back with another (really, really long) new episode of The Fandom Zone Podcast!  And this time, we're joined by friend of the show Lou Sytsma!

This week's reviews of comics on television include:

The Flash 1x09 -- "The Man in the Yellow Suit
Birds of Prey 1x05 -- "Sins of the Mother"

We talk about things the weather in Canada, Christmas in July, the geography of the DC television universe, the return of Amanda Pays as Dr. Tina McGee, Barry Allen being edgy, Iris' Christmas gift fail, how The Flash writers are failing Iris West, how Harrison Wells can feel a punch from the Reverse-Flash, The Flash stepping its show game up to the next level, Firestorm showing up at S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry admitting to Iris that he loves her, the idea of John Wesley Shipp appearing as an alternate Earth Flash, Harrison Wells out of his wheelchair, losing interest in Arrow Season 3, Dinah from Birds of Prey as Harry Potter, Lori Loughlin as a proper Black Canary, Stephen McHattie as a backup Lance Henrikson, the ending to the Watchmen movie, Black Canary's feud with Catwoman as a "bird/cat thing," bullets not setting things on fire, some comics on TV news, saying goodbye to Woodhouse on Archer, and more!

You can check out the episode HERE and for those of you who use iTunes, we're already available HERE, so please subscribe and rate us! If direct download MP3s are more your thing, you can find those HERE as well. In addition, we have The Fandom Zone show page on Facebook, which you can check out HERE. And we're also on Twitter using the account @FandomZoneCast.

Be sure to come back next week for the sixth episode of the 2002-03 WB series Birds of Prey, and Arrow Season 1 episode "Muse of Fire," right here on The Fandom Zone Podcast!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mark Hamill Confirmed for Animated BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE

"Madness is the emergency exit.  You can just step outside, and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened.  You can lock them away…forever."
-- The Joker, Batman: The Killing Joke

Batfans can rest easy.  Collider has confirmed previous rumors that Mark Hamill will reprise his arguably greatest role of The Joker for the upcoming animated adaptation of DC Comics' Batman: The Killing Joke.

On July 17th, Hamill posted on his official Twitter account that he hoped to voice the character for the adaptation, but according to Collider, "sources reached out to us and confirmed that Hamill has already recorded his voice acting for the film."

Hamill, 63, debuted as The Joker in 1992 with Batman: The Animated Series, and continued voicing the character with the 1993 animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, The New Batman Adventures, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Static Shock, Justice League, the live-action TV series Birds of Prey, and several videogames.

Created in 1988 by writer Alan Moore and artist Brian Bolland, Batman: The Killing Joke is a one-shot graphic novel that provides an origin for The Joker as a failed stand-up comedian who agrees to aid a gang of criminals and is thwarted by the superhero Batman before being disfigured.  In the process, he is driven insane and adopts his supervillain persona. The story is also notable for The Joker shooting and paralyzing Barbara Gordon, which forced her to give up her Batgirl identity and later adopt the new alias Oracle.

Batman: The Killing Joke is expected to arrive on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital video sometime in 2016.

Friday, July 24, 2015

ARROW Casts J.R. Bourne as Double Down

It might be time for Green Arrow to get his own rogues gallery and stop stealing from everyone else's.

TheWrap revealed yesterday that the CW series Arrow has cast J.R. Bourne in the role of Jeremy Tell, better known to fans of The Flash as DC Comics supervillain Double Down.

According to the article, Double Down is described as "a metahuman who can turn his playing card tattoos into deadly weapons" and will appear in the third episode of the upcoming season.

Bourne, 45, is best known as Martouf from Stargate SG-1 and as Chris Argent from MTV's Teen Wolf.  His previous TV work includes episodes of Revenge, Fringe, Smallville, NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS, 24, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, Jeremiah, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, and Millennium.  He's also appeared in the movies The Butterfly Effect 2, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and Josie and the Pussycats.

Created in 2001 by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver, Double Down first appeared in The Flash: Iron Heights as Jeremy Tell, a Central and Keystone City area con man and gambler, who gained powers when a cursed deck of cards bonded to him.  During a high stakes game, Tell lost all his money and angrily murdered the winner.  A "cursed deck of cards" that the murdered man owned animated and flew at Tell, cleaving and bonding to his skin.  Most of his flesh was seared off, replaced by the cards.  They can detach itself on his command, slicing everything in their way.

During his time in Iron Heights prison, the villain Murmur released the Frenzy virus and Tell tried to escape in the ensuing mass breakout.  However, he was stopped by Pied Piper and taken back to solitary confinement.  A later attempt to break out was successful, when he and Girder were both hired by The Penguin to help him establish a crime ring in Keystone City, but was stopped by The Flash and Nightwing.

Arrow returns for Season 4 on October 7, 2015.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

NEXT STOP EVERYWHERE 029: "A Town Called Mercy" is Up!

"Anachronistic electricity...keep out signs...aggressive stares...Has someone been peeking at my Christmas list?"
-- The Eleventh Doctor to Amy Pond and Rory Williams

My good friend and co-host Jesse Jackson and I are back with another episode of Next Stop Everywhere: The Doctor Who Podcast!  And this time, we're joined by special guest companion Karen Lindsay (of The Fandom Zone Podcast!) as we explore the Matt Smith story, "A Town Called Mercy"!

Exploring this Series Seven episode from 2012, Jesse, Karen and I discuss things like Part 2 of our Ben Browdercrossoverathon with The Fandom Zone Podcast episode 017, Karen still watching Under the Dome, Karen being the Puppet Mistress, Ben Browder's handlebar mustache, Jesse gushing over David Tennant, potential companions that didn't quite make it, Kahler-Jex's search for redemption, why the Doctor shouldn't travel alone, Joss Whedon basing Firefly's Malcolm Reynolds on Farscape's John Crichton, Whataburger vs. In-and-Out Burger vs. Five Guys, the problem with leaving a cyborg marshall around in the 19th century, the importance of filming in Almeira, Spain, casting Ben Browder, Michael Sheen talking to Chris Hardwick, Karen being the Document Arrow Nazi, a very quick Reverse the Polarity, and more!

And for those who still aren't aware of this yet, we're available on iTunes RIGHT HERE as well as Stitcher RIGHT HERE, so please subscribe and tell your friends about us. If you're looking for direct MP3 downloads, you can find them RIGHT HERE as well. Oh, and don't forget we have an officially official Next Stop Everywhere Facebook page and Twitter account, so be sure to Like and/or Follow us, okay?

Be sure to come back next for our review of the Matt Smith story "The Angels Take Manhattan" and look for more of Next Stop Everywhere on iTunes, Libsyn, Stitcher and the Southgate Media Group website!

THE FANDOM ZONE 017: "Suicide Squad" is Up!

"Do you cuties need some counseling?  I'm a trained therapist."
-- Harley Quinn to John Diggle and Lyla Michaels, Arrow: "Suicide Squad"

As you've probably guessed, Karen Lindsay and I are back with another (really, really long) new episode of The Fandom Zone Podcast!  Ah, but this time, we're joined by my Next Stop Everywhere co-host, Jesse Jackson!

This week's reviews of comics on television include:

Birds of Prey 1x04 -- "Three Birds and a Baby"
Arrow 2x16 -- "Suicide Squad"

We talk about things like Jesse being manipulated by puppet mistress Karen, Mr. Peabody meeting The Doctor, Ashley Scott's retweets, Huntress holding a grudge, discovering what notable actors appeared in Birds of Prey, birthday cupcakes for a rapidly aging baby, Karen's secret identity as Helena from Orphan Black, Jesse missing Sara Lance and Oliver Queen begin together, the secret origin of Karen and Jesse's friendship, the abandoned story potential of Oliver's Russian mob ties, Arrow fans hating the flashback scenes and Arrow writers ignoring them, Monty Python references, Amanda Waller being a Vulcan, Harley Quinn in the Suicide Squad film, Ben Browder, some comics on TV news, the closing credits of Ant-Man, and more!

You can check out the episode HERE and for those of you who use iTunes, we're already available HERE, so please subscribe and rate us! If direct download MP3s are more your thing, you can find those HERE as well. In addition, we have The Fandom Zone show page on Facebook, which you can check out HERE. And we're also on Twitter using the account @FandomZoneCast.

Be sure to check out Next Stop Everywhere: The Doctor Who Podcast for Part 2 of our Ben Browder Crossoverathon, then come back next week for the fifth episode of the 2002-03 WB series Birds of Prey, and The Flash Season 1 episode "The Man in the Yellow Suit," right here on The Fandom Zone Podcast!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

GOTHAM Casts Michael Chiklis as Nathaniel Barnes

It's clobberin' time in Gotham City.

TVLine reports that the Fox series Gotham has cast Michael Chiklis as Captain Nathaniel Barnes, a new series regular for Season 2.

Barnes, a new character created for the series, is described in the article as someone who "lands on the GCPD like a tornado, ripping out the dead wood of Gotham’s police force.  He is a law and order zealot; unafraid of making enemies – on either side of the law.  For Gordon (Ben McKenzie), Barnes is a hero and a mentor, someone with whom he can share the burden of heroism.  Captain Barnes proves himself to be a strong ally to Gordon…but one day he will make an equally powerful enemy."

Chiklis, 51, is no stranger to comic book projects, having appeared as The Thing in the two Fantastic Four films directed by Tim Story, and as Jim Powell on the superhero TV series No Ordinary Family.  In addition, he's known for his roles as Detective Vic Mackey on The Shield, Dell Toledo on American Horror Story: Freak Show, and as Curly Howard in the Three Stooges TV movie.  

During the Gotham panel at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, it was revealed that Season 2 is about "the rise of the villains," and will explore "what Gotham can give birth to when people start to feel power within themselves and don’t feel the urge to answer to morality."

"As the villains rise, there’s an arms race, and the good guys have to increase their force as well," said Ben McKenzie at SDCC.  "There’ll be new heroes introduced."

Some other Gotham Season 2 tidbits from SDCC...

Camren Bicondova said that Selina Kyle is "trying to figure out where she stands, whether she’s a bad guy or good guy," which will show viewers "a big part of her background."

Sean Pertwee remarked that "more of a contract is being drawn" between his character Alfred Pennyworth and young Bruce Wayne with the uncovering of his father's secret cave, resulting in a "more adult relationship out of mutual respect and understanding."

As for Jim Gordon's ex-fiancee Barbara Kean, executive producer Danny Cannon said that "She’s the crazy ex-girlfriend from hell, but she also becomes a woman in full in her own right.  It’s a story of insanity, but also fulfilling your potential."

Gotham returns to Fox for Season 2 on September 21, 2015.

Monday, July 20, 2015

BATMAN: BAD BLOOD Animated Movie Cast Announced

Gotham City is about to add two new crimefighters.

TV Insider has revealed the principal voice cast for Batman: Bad Blood, the latest DC Comics animated movie, which continues the Batman storyline that began in Son of Batman and continued in Batman vs. Robin.

Yvonne Strahovski, from The Astronaut Wives Club, Chuck and Dexter, will play Katherine Kane, better known to DC Comics fans as Batwoman.  In addition, Gaius Charles, from Friday Night Lights and Aquarius, will voice Luke Fox a.k.a. Batwing.  Bad Blood also features Ernie Hudson as Lucius Fox, a longtime associate of Bruce Wayne, and Luke's father.

Jason O’Mara, the former Terra Nova and Life on Mars (U.S.) star returns as the voice as Batman. Stuart Allan, who appeared on the television series Bad Teacher, and Sean Maher, who was a regular on Firefly and played Shrapnel on CW’s Arrow, are returning as Robin/Damian and Nightwing, respectively.  Morena Baccarin also returns as Robin's mother, Talia al Ghul.

Created in 2006 by Greg Rucka and Ken Lashley, the current version of Batwoman first appeared in 52 #7 as Kate Kane, whose mother was executed during a kidnapping and her twin sister Beth presumed killed.  Attending the United States Military Academy like her father, Kate was forced to leave when she refused to lie about her lesbian relationship with another student.  Inspired by an encounter with Batman during a mugging, Kate underwent an intensive two years of training across the globe and began fighting crime as Batwoman.

Created in 2013 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Eduardo Pansica, Luke Fox became the second Batwing in Batwing #19, when the first, David Zavimbe, resigned and Lucius Fox designed a new Batwing suit given to Luke by Batman.

Batman: Bad Blood will arrive on Blu-Ray, DVD and On Demand sometime in early 2016.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

NEXT STOP EVERYWHERE 028: "The War Games" is Up!

"Well, it is a fact, Jamie, that I do tend to get involved with things."
"Aye, you can say that again.  Whenever there’s any trouble, he’s in it right up to his neck!"
-- The Second Doctor and Jamie McCrimmon, Doctor Who: "The War Games"

My good friend and co-host Jesse Jackson and I are back with another episode of Next Stop Everywhere: The Doctor Who Podcast!  And this time, we're joined by special guest companion Ken Schaefer as we explore the Patrick Troughton classic, "The War Games"!

Exploring this Season 6 story from 1969, Jesse, Ken and I discuss things like how Ken got into Doctor Who, converting Jesse into a Doctor Who fan, the introduction of the Sonic Screwdriver, the greatness of Jamie and Zoe, Outlander being Doctor Who fan fiction about Jamie McCrimmon, the greatness of Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor, the bombshell of the Time Lords' first appearance in 1969, tying up the "exiles" plot thread, SIDRATs vs. TARDISes, the Second Doctor calling out the Time Lords, Reversing the Reverse the Polarity, speculating on the new Series Nine trailer, and more!

And for those who still aren't aware of this yet, we're available on iTunes RIGHT HERE as well as Stitcher RIGHT HERE, so please subscribe and tell your friends about us. If you're looking for direct MP3 downloads, you can find them RIGHT HERE as well. Oh, and don't forget we have an officially official Next Stop Everywhere Facebook page and Twitter account, so be sure to Like and/or Follow us, okay?

Be sure to come back next for our review of the Matt Smith story "A Town Called Mercy," and look for more of Next Stop Everywhere on iTunes, Libsyn, Stitcher and the Southgate Media Group website!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

THE FANDOM ZONE 016: "Daredevil" is Up!

"You were right, what you told me on the radio that night...Not everyone deserves a happy ending."
-- Daredevil to The Kingpin, Daredevil: "Daredevil"

After a week off for the Independence Day holiday and my recovery for a sore throat, Karen Lindsay and I are back with another new episode of The Fandom Zone Podcast!  

This week's reviews of comics on television include:

Birds of Prey 1x03 -- "Prey for the Hunter"
Daredevil 1x13 -- "Daredevil"

We talk about things like more Funko POP figures, Peter Capaldi giving props to Christopher Eccleston, Darwin Awards for the July 4th weekend, why ice powers make for a great bartender, Sgt. Hulka from Stripes, Huntress' bad guy attack fail, Detective Reese's metahuman issues, wondering where the other Justice Leaguers are in Birds of Prey, Dinah as a superhero who's afraid of being teased, a shoutout to the Batman storyline "No Man's Land," Huntress and Oracle arguing who's the bigger outcast, the Shakespeare bust from the 1966 Batman TV show, Keri Russell cutting her hair on Felicity, Karen Page's awkwardness at Ben Urich's funeral, Leland's huge blackmail fail with the Kingpin, hinting at Leland Jr. as The Owl from the comics, Matt and Foggy moving forward, Luciano Pavarotti's "Nessun Dorma," Matt finally becoming Daredevil, how Matt gets his Daredevil codename, Kingpin staring at a blank cell wall, wanting Arrow to rebound for Season 4, Daredevil raising the bar for other superhero TV shows, some comics on television news, our Ben Browder crossover with Next Stop Everywhere: The Doctor Who Podcast, some Farscape love, and more!

You can check out the episode HERE and for those of you who use iTunes, we're already available HERE, so please subscribe and rate us! If direct download MP3s are more your thing, you can find those HERE as well. In addition, we have The Fandom Zone show page on Facebook, which you can check out HERE. And we're also on Twitter using the account @FandomZoneCast.

Be sure to come back next week for the fourth episode of the 2002-03 WB series Birds of Prey, and the Arrow Season 2 episode "Suicide Squad," right here on The Fandom Zone Podcast!

Friday, July 17, 2015

DAMN Good Movies -- ANT-MAN

You guessed it, it's time once again for another of my movie takes, this one on the film Ant-Man, based on the Marvel Comics superhero.  As always, if you haven't seen the movie yet and you don't want it spoiled for you, then please step back from your computer or whatever electronic device you're reading this on and stop reading now.  If, however, you're wise enough to know that movie reviews with spoilers are always more interesting than the ones without them...well...let's get small...

To say that an Ant-Man movie has been long in the works would be a serious understatement.  Development on the film began as early as the 1980s, when co-creator Stan Lee pitched the idea to New World Entertainment, Marvel's parent company at the time.  In 2000, Artisan Entertainment announced a deal with Marvel to make the movie and in 2003, Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright and his writing partner Joe Cornish wrote a treatment around Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man.  In 2006, Marvel hired Wright to direct the movie, but the project went into Development Hell with script rewrites and wasn't formally announced until 2013.  However, due to "differences in vision," Wright left the project in May 2014 and Peyton Reed was announced as his replacement the month after with production beginning in August.

The movie opens in 1989, where Dr. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, meets with Howard Stark and Peggy Carter and resigns from S.H.I.E.L.D. after finding out that they attempted to duplicate his shrinking technology.  Apart from the obvious fanservice with a couple of great cameos, this opening immediately establishes Ant-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe while giving us a little of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s history with the Triskelion headquarters being constructed.

Meanwhile, we're introduced to the next Ant-Man, Scott Lang, who is released from prison and desperately wants to live a normal life so he can be allowed to see his daughter Cassie. Scott finds out that his ex-wife Maggie is now engaged to a disapproving cop named Paxton, but Maggie won't allow visitation rights unless Scott gets his life on track.  And of course, with a criminal record for theft, Scott can only manage to get a menial job at Baskin-Robbins ice cream, but ends up getting quickly fired after learning of his record because Baskin-Robbins don't play.

The film's Second Act puts Hank and Scott on a collision course, when Scott is forced to return to crime and breaks into Hank's house with the help of his friend Luis and a couple of guys he knows.  Expecting a big score after using some impressive science to break into a huge, 100-year-old safe, Scott only finds a strange suit and helmet that finally gets the film off and running.  Trying on the suit while hiding in his shower, Scott presses a button and shrinks to the size of an insect, giving us our first rollercoaster ride as Scott is washed down the bathtub drain while being addressed by Hank through the Ant-Man helmet's communications relay.

Scott is introduced to Hank's daughter, Hope Van Dyne, and is soon put through the standard training montage sequence of becoming a movie hero.  Hope shows him how to fight and Hank shows him how to use the Ant-Man tech, all for the purpose of breaking into Hank's old company that has been taken over by the film's Big Bad, Darren Cross.  Cross, it turns out, learned about the "legend of the Ant-Man" and decided the shrinking technology would be great for military and espionage uses.  Hank, it turns out, is totally not down with this and wants to stop his former protege Cross from developing his own Ant-Man technology in the form of a Yellowjacket suit.

That sounds pretty simple and straightforward for a Marvel superhero movie, but in this case, it feels like a good thing.  Like the superhero himself, Ant-Man the movie finds that there are advantages in getting smaller, a much-needed change from one world-threatening disaster after another thanks to previous Big Bads like Loki, the Chitauri, Malekith, Hydra, and Ultron.

Ultimately, though, Ant-Man is a story about fathers and daughters wrapped up in superhero packaging.  You have the prickly relationship between Hank and Hope, damaged for years by the apparent death of Hope's mother, Janet, and you have Scott's desperate need to have a relationship with his young daughter Cassie.  The two men complement one another well, with Hank providing the means for Scott to get his life on track, while Scott acts as the catalyst that cuts through years of animosity and brings Hank and Hope closer together.

The movie's eclectic cast have a surprising amount of chemistry with one another, providing a lot of fun and entertaining character moments.  Here are some of the things that stood out:

ANT-MAN/SCOTT LANG -- Primarily a comedic actor, Paul Rudd reinvents himself pretty well as a Marvel superhero.  He's likeable and sympathetic, although feels a bit stiff at times when barking out orders to his army of ants or asked to deliver strong heroic lines.  Rudd seems to work best when playing off others, which means his upcoming appearance in Captain America: Civil War should be promising indeed.

HOPE VAN DYNE -- Evangeline Lilly is having quite the career after her television series Lost, first with the last two Hobbit films and now Ant-Man.  Thankfully, Hope isn't the typical Marvel damsel in distress, nor the typical Marvel love interest (a kiss with Scott takes place behind a closed door).  And best of all, the mid-credits sequence revealed that she's getting a Wasp suit of her very own, presumably for Captain America: Civil War as well.

YELLOWJACKET/DARREN CROSS -- After watching Corey Stoll on House of Cards and The Strain, it feels a bit strange to see him as the main villain.  Cross isn't overly memorable, certainly not on a Red Skull level, but as Scott Lang's first enemy from his first appearance in Marvel Premiere #47, he makes perfect sense.  And as Marvel fans know, Pym's Yellowjacket identity works well as a villain.

HANK PYM -- Michael Douglas is one of the last people I thought I would ever see in a Marvel movie, but hey, if they could get Robert Redford, why not him?  Douglas brings considerable depth to Hank, who only became interesting in the comics when he was creating evil sentient robots like Ultron or having serious mental breakdowns.  And mercifully, the unpleasantness of Hank Pym hitting his wife Janet in the comics isn't even hinted at.

PAXTON -- Anyone who watched Boardwalk Empire knows that Bobby Cannavale can play the hell out of being an asshole.  Here, he's no different, as the douchebag cop fiance giving Scott side-eye glares while bringing up his criminal past any chance he gets.  Rather abruptly at the end, he does a complete 180 where Scott is concerned, allowing Scott to be a part of Cassie's life.

LUIS -- Michael Peña is an odd sidekick for Ant-Man, a motormouth former cellmate and member of Lang's heist team.  He brings some nice comedic moments without being overly annoying, pretty much all you can hope for from the sidekick role.

MAGGIE LANG -- Once again, Judy Greer is given a role that doesn't make the most of her talents, as anyone who also saw her in Jurassic World can testify.  Archer fans know she's capable of so much more, so if Ant-Man rates a sequel, here's hoping she gets more to do.

CASSANDRA "CASSIE" LANG -- Abby Ryder Fortson is as adorable a little girl as you can hope for, and pretty damn funny when she's blatantly rooting for her father Scott against Paxton.

PEGGY CARTER CAMEO -- Hayley Atwell reprises Peggy, becoming a better connection for Marvel Cinematic Universe films and television than Clark Gregg's Phil Coulson.  In this outing, Peggy is forty years older than when she last saw Steve Rogers, but doesn't seem like she's lost a single step.  At least, not until Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

HOWARD STARK CAMEO -- Reprising the role as the older Howard Stark, John Slattery's Howard is a bit further along than when we last saw him in Iron Man 2.  He doesn't resemble Dominic Cooper's Howard Stark much at all, but for some weird reason, both actors manage to make the role work.

THE FALCON CAMEO -- Anthony Mackie has a pretty sizable (no pun intended) cameo here, which includes a great fight sequence between Ant-Man and The Falcon as he investigates a security breach at the new Avengers compound.  He also turns up in the post-credits scene, informing Captain America about Ant-Man's skill set. 

OBLIGATORY STAN LEE CAMEO -- Stan "The Man" turns up as a bartender at the end of the movie, reciting some of Luis' rambling dialogue about a new opportunity.  It's pretty short, but then again, so is Ant-Man.

CAPTAIN AMERICA AND WINTER SOLDIER CAMEOS -- Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan turn up in the post-closing credits scene that appears to tie in with Captain America: Civil War.  Cap needs a specialist for infiltration and The Falcon just happens to know a guy.

All in all, Ant-Man is an entertaining and fun Marvel superhero film, better than you would expect it to be.  It's certainly not up there in the big leagues of Cap, Iron Man and Thor, and it doesn't quite reach the greatness of Guardians of the Galaxy, but thankfully, it's also not bogged down in too much Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity.  After the overly-crowded Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man is quirky and a much-needed breath of fresh air.

And for those who may be wondering, here's the updated list of my Top 20 Comic Book Films:

1. Superman (1978)
2. The Dark Knight (2008)
3. The Avengers (2012)
4. Man of Steel (2013)
5. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
6. Spider-Man (2002)
7. Batman Begins (2005)

8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

9. Iron Man (2008)
10. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
11. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
12. Watchmen (2009)
13. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
14. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
15. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
16. X-Men: First Class (2011)
17: The Wolverine (2013)

18. X2: X-Men United (2003)
19. X-Men (2000)
20. Ant-Man (2015)

Your friendly neighborhood movie reviewer,


Thursday, July 16, 2015

THE FLASH Casts Adam "Edge" Copeland as Atom Smasher

If only we could get the classic Nuklon mohawk...

ComicBook.com has revealed that the CW series The Flash has cast Adam Copeland in the role of Al Rothstein, better known to DC Comics fans as Justice Society of America member Atom Smasher.

Atom Smasher is described in the article as "One of the most powerful enemies we encounter this season, Atom Smasher has come to Central City to kill The Flash.  His incredible strength and ability to grow to enormous size makes him more than a match for Flash and the entire S.T.A.R. Labs team will have to come together to find a way to defeat him."  Rothstein was previously mentioned in the episode "Power Outage" as one of a number of DC characters thought to have died during the particle accelerator explosion.

Copeland, 41, is best known as the former WWE wrestler Edge, but has retired from wrestling and has recently appeared on the television series Haven as Dwight Hendrickson and Sanctuary as Thelo.

Created in 1983 by Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway, Atom Smasher first appeared in All-Star Squadron #25 as Nuklon, a member of the superhero group Infinity, Inc. and godson to the original Atom, Al Pratt.

Albert Julian Rothstein inherited his metahuman powers of super-strength and control over his molecular structure (allowing him to change the size and density of his body) from his grandfather Terry Curtis, who became the reluctant supervillain known as Cyclotron.

As Nuklon, Rothstein later served as a member of the Justice League of America.  Adopting the new identity of Atom Smasher, he was invited to join the reformed Justice Society of America to uphold Al Pratt's legacy. Albert's mother was later murdered in a plane crash engineered by the terrorist Kobra, making him consumed with vengeance, nearly crushing Kobra in his hands before he is talked down by his teammate Jack Knight. Not long after the fatal crash, Albert – with the aid of Metron of the New Gods – went back in time and replaced his mother with the villain Extant.  This ended up saving her life but made Albert a murderer, even though there was no other way to contain Extant and stop him from causing further harm.

This will be the first time Atom Smasher will be depicted in live-action, although he previously appeared in the animated series Justice League Unlimited, voiced by an uncredited Kevin Conroy.

The Flash returns to The CW for Season 2 on October 6, 2015.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

THE FLASH Casts Michael Ironside as Captain Cold's Father

If you think Captain Cold is a bad guy, wait until you meet his dad.

The Hollywood Reporter has word that the CW series The Flash has cast Michael Ironside as Lewis Snart, the estranged father of Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Golden Glider (Peyton List).

Ironside will debut in the third episode of Season 2, "Family of Rogues," and is described in the article as "a cold-blooded, ruthless career criminal.  Recently released from prison, he returns to Central City with a plan that will endanger both of his children."

Ironside, 65, is well-known to comic book and science fiction fans for numerous television and film roles.  His television appearances include V: The Final Battle and V: The Series (as Ham Tyler), Tales from the Crypt, seaQuest 2032 (as Captain Oliver Hudson), Andromeda, Stargate SG-1, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League Unlimited, Wolverine and the X-Men, Castle, and Community.  Ironside's films include Scanners, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, Top Gun, Total Recall (1990), Highlander II: The Quickening, Starship Troopers, Terminator: Salvation, and X-Men: First Class.

Interestingly, Ironside appeared in a role on the WB/CW series Smallville as General Sam Lane, father to Lois Lane and Lucy Lane, who was played by Peyton List.

Created in 2002 by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins, Captain Cold's father first appeared in The Flash (vol.2) #182 in a story titled "Absolute Zero", although he was never named.  He raised his children Leonard and Lisa Snart in a rundown trailer outside of Central City, a former cop on disability who was kicked off the force after being drunk during a routine traffic stop that resulted in his partner being killed.

He was an abusive father, an alcoholic who beat his children and his wife, who would often leave him for days at a time.  Leonard and Lisa often took refuge with their grandfather of ailing health, who delivered ice to restaurants and the ballpark in an ice truck.  When Leonard's grandfather died before he turned twelve, he grew tired of his father's abuse and set out to start a criminal career.

The Flash returns to The CW for Season 2 on October 6, 2015.

Monday, July 13, 2015

SUICIDE SQUAD Comic-Con Trailer Officially Released

Forget about all those crappy bootleg versions, here's the real thing.

After a low-quality version of the Suicide Squad First Look trailer shown in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday afternoon leaked online over the weekend, director David Ayer went ahead and released the official trailer himself.

According to Entertainment WeeklySue Kroll, Warner Bros. president of worldwide marketing and international distribution, stated that the decision was made to combat the numerous bootleg copies across the internet.  "Warner Bros. Pictures and our anti-piracy team have worked tirelessly over the last 48 hours to contain the Suicide Squad footage that was pirated from Hall H on Saturday,” said Kroll.  "We have been unable to achieve that goal.  Today we will release the same footage that has been illegally circulating on the web, in the form it was created and high quality with which it was intended to be enjoyed.  We regret this decision as it was our intention to keep the footage as a unique experience for the Comic-Con crowd, but we cannot continue to allow the film to be represented by the poor quality of the pirated footage stolen from our presentation."

What Kroll fails to mention, of course, is that the only people upset by the forced release are Warner Bros. Pictures executives.  The thousands of DC Comics fans who weren't able to go to San Diego Comic-Con this year certainly aren't going to be shedding any tears.

The 3-minute First Look opens with Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) having a nice dinner with a Navy admiral, seemingly played by Tom Berenger.  "It's taken some work, but I have 'em -- the worst of the worst," begins Waller.  When the admiral asks where, Waller replies, "Let's just say I put 'em in a hole and threw away the hole."

"There's rumors, Amanda, that some of them have...abilities."

"Oh, yeah," replies Waller.  "I have seen things.  Maybe Superman was some kind of beacon for them to creep back from the shadows.  I want to assemble a task force of the most dangerous people on the planet...where they can do some good."

"They're bad guys."

"Exactly.  And if anything goes wrong, we blame them.  We have built-in deniability."

"What makes you think you can control them?"

"Because getting people to act against their own self-interest is what I do for a living."

We see images of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) doing gymanastics in her isolated and highly-guarded cell, El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) blowing out a match, Deadshot (Will Smith) hitting a heavy bag, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) being wheeled in with a facial mask like Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, Deadshot in full armor descending over a rooftop, and The Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) immersed in a bathtub underneath a pentagram.

"So that's it, we're the patsies," remarks Deadshot as the one who not-so-subtly names the team.  "We're some kinda suicide squad."

We see Batman (Ben Affleck) riding the top of an expensive sportscar being driven by a joyriding Harley Quinn.  "I hope you've got insurance," quips Harley.

And then we hear the brief laughter of The Joker (Jared Leto), shirtless with a bunch of prison tattoos and a gangbanger mouth grill.  "Oh, I'm not gonna kill ya..." he remarks, holding up a pair of electroshock paddles and then grinning directly at the camera.  "...I'm just gonna hurt ya...really...really bad..."

If you'd like to see the 3-minute First Look trailer from Comic-Con, you can view it below thanks to the official Warner Bros. Pictures' YouTube account...

Suicide Squad is scheduled to arrive in theaters on August 5, 2016.

SUPERGIRL Casts Maxwell Lord, Livewire & Reactron Announced

Here's hoping Blue Beetle isn't going to make an appearance.

One of the more notable panels at San Diego Comic-Con 2015 was Warner Bros. and DC Comics' three-hour "A Night of DC Entertainment" panel in Hall H that provided some exciting news for the upcoming CBS series Supergirl.

Peter Facinelli has been cast as DC Comics character Maxwell Lord, described by Warner Brothers Television as "Sometimes a villain, sometimes a hero, Maxwell Lord has a storied past with the DC Comics Universe as a powerful business man involved with the Justice League.  On Supergirl, Maxwell is a green tech billionaire who enjoys a friendly rivalry with Cat Grant and a fascination with National City’s newest arrival — Supergirl."

Facinelli, 41, is best known as Dr. Carlisle Cullen in the Twilight films and as Dr. Fitch "Coop" Cooper on Nurse Jackie.  His other television appearances include American Odyssey, Glee, Damages, Six Feet Under, and Fastlane. 

"Greg [Berlanti], Ali [Adler] and I have been fans of Peter for years," said executive producer Andrew Kreisberg.  "We’re beyond thrilled to have him join us on Supergirl’s first adventures bringing the iconic Maxwell Lord to life."

Created in 1987 by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire, Maxwell Lord IV first appeared in Justice League (vol.1) #1 as a successful businessman who worked behind the scenes to establish a new incarnation of the Justice League while under the control of a sinister computer created by Metron of the New Gods.

Freed from the computer's influence, Lord was one of many people on Earth gifted with superpowers during the Invasion event when a gene bomb was detonated by alien invaders.  Lord gained the ability to control the minds of others, albeit with great difficulty.  He was later revealed as a criminal mastermind who spent years gather sensitive information about the world's superheroes, whom he considered to be a threat to Earth.

Lord shot and killed the second Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, after he discovered Lord's secret and refused to join him.  He later controlled Superman's mind and sent her to attack Wonder Woman, making the Man of Steel believe she was his enemy Doomsday.  In order to free Superman from Lord's control, Wonder Woman snapped Lord's neck.  However, he was later resurrected by the power of White Lantern light during the events of Blackest Night.

Facinelli will the second actor to portray Maxwell Lord in live action, after Gil Bellows on the CW series Smallville.

In other Supergirl news, two new villains were announced for the show's first season -- Livewire and Reactron.  

Livewire was Leslie Willis, a former radio shock jock until she was transformed by a thunderstorm into a being of electrical energy and later faced Superman.

Reactron, meanwhile, was Benjamin Martin Krull, a sergeant in the United States Army until he was transformed into a being capable of generating radioactive energy and later faced Supergirl.

Supergirl debuts on CBS on October 26, 2015.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

THE FLASH Casts Jay Garrick, Zoom is Season 2 Big Bad

As if there weren't a ton of announcements coming out of San Diego Comic-Con 2015 already, Warner Bros. and DC Comics' three-hour "A Night of DC Entertainment" panel in Hall H provided some exciting news for fans of the CW series The Flash.

Opening the segment with a five and a half-minute highlight reel of Season 1, the video ends with teases of the Flash glowing blue instead of yellow as he runs, with a voiceover of Barry Allen and Jay Garrick meeting one another for the first time.

"Who the hell are you?" asks Barry.

"My name is Jay Garrick," replies Jay, "and your world is in danger."

This is immediately followed with text showing the words "Zoom is coming".  At this point, The Flash cast of Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, John Wesley Shipp, Carlos Valdes and Danielle Panabaker, arrived on stage with Andrew Kreisberg, Greg Berlanti and Geoff Johns hanging around from the Arrow segment.

Kreisberg confirmed that Zoom will be the Big Bad of Season 2, remarking "He's going to be faster than the Reverse-Flash, faster than the Flash, and it's going to be very hard to catch him."

Teddy Sears was announced as Jay Garrick, who will be the first actor to truly portray Jay Garrick in live-action, although Billy Mitchell depicted him in a brief cameo in the Smallville episode "Absolute Justice,"

Sears, 38, is known as Dr. Austin Langham on Masters of Sex and as Richard Patrick Woolsley on Raising the Bar.  His other television appearances include 666 Park Avenue, American Horror Story: Murder House, Torchwood: Miracle Day, Dollhouse, Mad Men, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Jay Garrick is integral to the Flash mythology," said Kreisberg," and he's never really been portrayed in live action.  Now that we've established our Flash, we thought it would be interesting to bring in the original Flash and create a brand-new episode for Barry to have."

Berlanti added that other Earth-2 characters will be introduced as well.  "This year we're going to be introducing characters from Earth-2," said Berlanti.  "That's obviously the origin of Jay."

In addition, Shantel VanSanten was announced as Patty Spivot, Barry Allen's new love interest and CCPD Detective Joe West's new partner.  As previous reported, Patty is a police officer and science enthusiast along the lines of Arrow's Felicity Smoak.  She is obsessed with metahumans, but has no idea that her new crush is The Fastest Man Alive.

VanSanten, 29, is probably best known as Quinn James on One Tree Hill and as Vera Buckley on The Messengers.  Her other TV appearances include The Night Shift, Beauty & the Beast, The Glades, and CSI: New York.

"We were huge fans of The Messengers and are excited to have Shantel join us to help complicate Barry Allen’s love life in season two," remarked Kreisberg.

Other interesting Season 2 tidbits from the panel:

"We find Barry dealing with some extra tension," said star Grant Gustin.  "He knows that Eddie (Thawne) was ultimately the hero that stopped (Harrison) Wells in the finale and saved everybody.  We find him struggling with his role as a hero.  He’s a lone wolf, working alone."

Iris West has a "new sense of urgency," said Candice Patton, adding that she’s found herself filming in S.T.A.R. Labs more in Season 2.  "Iris is part of the Flash team" and provides "the heart and earth" while Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow are the technology and science.

After Cisco was killed in an alternate timeline by Eobard Thawne and his Vibe powers revelation, Carlos Valdes said "As fans saw in the latter half of Season One, Cisco starts having these dreams and starts underoging these biological changes that take place in his mind.  Those kind of augment themselves over time, and yeah, the beginning of Season Two deals with how Cisco deals with that change."

Danielle Panabaker added that she's "beyond excited" about her character doing more as Killer Frost "one day."

Also, fans of Grodd will be glad to know that the super-gorilla will return, as will Captain Cold and Golden Glider.

If you'd like to see the Flash highlight reel shown during the panel, you can view it below thanks to Warner Bros. TV's official YouTube account...

The Flash returns to The CW for Season 2 on October 6, 2015.