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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

THE FANDOM ZONE 084: "Killer Frost" is Up!


"You and I, we've been through too much together to let each other down now.  Please.  Let me help you."
"Like you helped your mother?"
"Caitlin..."
"Or Wally?  Or me?  You keep messing with everyone's lives, wrecking everything, and we're left behind to pick up the pieces from your mistakes.  Some things you break can't be put back together."
– Barry Allen and Caitlin Snow, The Flash: "Killer Frost"

You guessed it, Karen and I are back with another big episode of The Fandom Zone Podcast!

This week's reviews of comics on television include:

The Walking Dead 7x05: "Go Getters"
Supergirl 2x07 -- "The Darkest Place"
Gotham 3x10 -- "Time Bomb"
Lucifer 2x09 -- "Homewrecker"
The Flash 3x07 -- "Killer Frost"
Luke Cage 1x08 -- "Blowin' Up the Spot"

This time, we talk about things like the X-Men animated series not holding up, the passing of Ron Glass from Firefly and Barney Miller, the coolness of seeing a car being crushed by a tractor, the awkwardness of Gregory losing his stash of scotch while attempting to throw Maggie & Sasha under the bus, the awkwardness of Gregory pilfering a pocketwatch left on Glenn's grave, being amazed if Maggie's baby survives the first trimester, the awkwardness of Mon-El asking Jimmy and Winn if Kara is seeing anyone, wondering why Kelex thought Cyborg Superman was Kara, back in the day when Jack Kirby was on the Jimmy Olsen comic series, me watching the Gilmore Girls Netflix revival, Clobberin' Time for Mario, Karen's husband cosplaying as Harvey Bullock, how to make Karen sing the Super Mario Bros. theme music, the awkwardness of the Riddler cutting off Tabitha's hand, Amenadiel and Mazikeen watching Charlotte and Detective Douche having sex, Karen buying into my theory that H.R. is Abra Kadabra, why freezing a laptop doesn't fix it, Karen's disappointment at Julian being revealed as Doctor Alchemy, Diamondback as Jaws in the James Bond movies, Misty Knight being a really bad detective, some feedback from Ruthie Rink and Justina, my theory of why only Barry can see Savitar, and more!

You can now check out episodes of The Fandom Zone using...

Google Play Music
 -- HERE 
iTunes -- HERE
Direct Download MP3s/Libsyn -- HERE
The Fandom Zone on Facebook -- HERE
The Fandom Zone on Twitter -- @FandomZoneCast

And if that isn't enough for you, you can also check us out on YouTube, Libsyn, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and the official Southgate Media Group website!  Oh, and if you're interested in an officially official Fandom Zone Podcast t-shirt that all the cool kids are wearing, you can get those on TeePublic HERE as well!  Feel free to post a picture on our Facebook page of you or some other cool person you know wearing the shirt!

Be sure to come back next week, as we review the ninth episode of Luke Cage, the big four-part crossover of Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, the midseason finale of Gotham, and new episodes of The Walking Dead, Lucifer and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.right here on The Fandom Zone Podcast!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY Casts Doug Jones as Lt. Saru


Starfleet is starting to fill some key science posts.

Entertainment Weekly has word that the upcoming CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery has cast Doug Jones as Lieutenant Saru.  According to the article, Lt. Saru will be "a Starfleet Science Officer and a new alien species to the Star Trek universe."  It's not known if Lt. Saru serves aboard the Discovery or the Shenzhou.

Jones, 56, is an actor and former contortionist best known as Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movies, and as the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.  In addition, Jones has appeared on episodes of The Flash and Arrow as Deathbolt, The Strain as The Master, Teen Wolf, Sons of Anarchy, Falling Skies, Criminal Minds, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Weird Al Show, and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.  His other film work includes Crimson Peak, Legion, Quarantine, Pan's Labyrinth, The Time Machine (2002), Men in Black II, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Mystery Men, Tank Girl, and Batman Returns. 



Meanwhile, Anthony Rapp has been cast as Lieutenant Stamets, the show's gay character who is an "astromycologist, fungus expert, and Starfleet Science Officer aboard the Starship Discovery."

Rapp, 45, is a stage and film actor best known as Mark Cohen in the Broadway and film production of Rent.  His television appearances include episodes of The Knick, Psych: The Musical, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The X-Files, and The Lazarus Man.  Rapp's other films include The Other Woman, A Beautiful Mind, Twister, Dazed and Confused, and Adventures in Babysitting.

Back in August, former showrunner Bryan Fuller remarked on featuring a gay character on Discovery, saying "Star Trek started with a wonderful expression of diversity in its cast. We're absolutely continuing that tradition. The thing that makes Star Trek such a lasting, vital part of pop culture is that it's us...and where we're going." 

In addition, Michelle Yeoh's role on Star Trek: Discovery was confirmed, although as Captain Georgiou of the USS Shenzhou, and not Captain Han Bo as originally reported.

Star Trek: Discovery is currently scheduled to premiere on CBS in May 2017, with the next 12 episodes airing on CBS All Access.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY Casts Michelle Yeoh as Captain of the USS Shenzhou


Starfleet has a new captain...just not the captain you were expecting.

Deadline revealed yesterday that the upcoming CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery has cast Michelle Yeoh as recurring character Captain Han Bo.  However, it turns out Captain Han won't be the Discovery's captain, but rather the captain of the USS Shenzhou, another ship "set to play a big role in Discovery‘s first season."

Yeoh was first reported to board Star Trek: Discovery in an interview with consulting producer Nicholas Meyer, published by Coming Soon, which provided no information about her character.

Yeoh, 54, is a Chinese-Malaysian actress best known as Wai Lin in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, and as Yu Shu Lien in the films Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny.  She's also appeared in the films Moonlight Express, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Reign of Assassins, Kung Fu Panda 2, Police Story 3: Super Cop, Mechanic: Resurrection, and Morgan.  In addition, she appeared on the 2016 Marco Polo TV series as Lotus.

According to previous reports, the show's main character will be a human but not the Discovery's captain. She is a "Lieutenant Commander — with caveats," said former showrunner Bryan Fuller.  "We've seen six characters from the captain's point of view.  In order to understand something that is so completely alien from her, she must first understand herself.  That's part of our journey on this planet to get along, and that's part of our journey in this first season."

In addition, the new series will be set in the Prime Universe (as opposed to the Kelvin Timeline used in the J.J. Abrams-produced films) and will take place about 10 years before Captain Kirk's five-year mission.  This means Discovery will bridge the first two series in the timeline, about a century after Star Trek: Enterprise (which was a prequel) and a decade before The Original Series.

Star Trek: Discovery is currently scheduled to premiere on CBS in May 2017, with the next 12 episodes airing on CBS All Access.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

THE FANDOM ZONE 083: "Outlaw Country" is Up!


"Where's Rip?"
"He's M.I.A."
"Damn.  How the hell did you miscreants manage not to get yourselves killed without him?"
– Jonah Hex and Sara Lance, Legends of Tomorrow: "Outlaw Country"

That's right, Karen and I are back with another HUGE episode of The Fandom Zone Podcast!  So huge, in fact, we've decided to split it up into two parts!

This week's reviews of comics on television include:

The Walking Dead 7x04: "Service"
Supergirl 2x06 -- "Changing"
Gotham 3x09 -- "The Executioner"
Lucifer 2x08 -- "Trip to Stabby Town"

The Flash 3x06 -- "Shade"
Arrow 5x07 -- "Vigilante"
Legends of Tomorrow 2x06 -- "Outlaw Country"
Luke Cage 1x07 -- "Manifest"

This time, we talk about things like Dwight transferring his hatred for himself onto Daryl, Spencer's secret stash, karma biting people on The Walking Dead, waiting for Short Round to appear on Supergirl, Alex coming out to Kara, wondering about JImmy Olsen's lead-lined helmet, Clobberin' Time in Gotham City, David Mazouz's recent growth spurt, speculating on what the Mystery Necklace Key opens, calling Ella when Barry Allen is busy, Lucifer's concern about breaking Dr. Linda, Detective Douche's confession while under the influence of the Angel of Death's knife, wondering why Dr. Alchemy spells out ALCHEMY by etching it in glass, being disappointed by Savitar looking like Megatron in Michael Bay's Transformers, speculating if Dr. Alchemy is someone besides Julian Albert, more of my theory that H.R. Wells is really Abra Kadabra, being disappointed that The Shade wasn't The Shade from James Robinson's Starman, the hypocrisy of the Arrowlettes being mad at Oliver for killing people, why incriminating yourself to "send a message" is a bad idea, being disappointed at the modulation of Vigilante's voice, why Mr. Terrific shouldn't criticize another vigilante's fashion choice, Cherlene from Archer, speculating on Ray's new Atom suit, everybody loving Karen's impressions, Alex Ross giving Citizen Steel some serious junk, Cottonmouth's first kill, the awkwardness of Luke Cage being shot, why telling Mariah that she led on Uncle Pete was a bad idea, our failed attempt at some feedback from Justina, and more!

You can now check out episodes of The Fandom Zone using...

Google Play Music
 -- HERE 
iTunes -- HERE
Direct Download MP3s/Libsyn -- HERE
The Fandom Zone on Facebook -- HERE
The Fandom Zone on Twitter -- @FandomZoneCast

And if that isn't enough for you, you can also check us out on YouTube, Libsyn, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and the official Southgate Media Group website!  Oh, and if you're interested in an officially official Fandom Zone Podcast t-shirt that all the cool kids are wearing, you can get those on TeePublic HERE as well!  Feel free to post a picture on our Facebook page of you or some other cool person you know wearing the shirt!

Be sure to come back next week, as we review the eighth episode of Luke Cage, and new episodes of The Walking Dead, Supergirl, The Flash, Gotham, and Luciferright here on The Fandom Zone Podcast!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

THE FANDOM ZONE 082: "Suckas Need Bodyguards" is Up!


"Why don't we start by getting some coffee first?"
"I'm not sleeping with you."
"Whoa!  Did I say anything about that?  Why can't coffee just be coffee?"
"Okay, you didn't even touch your coffee this morning, you drank the orange juice.  You don't drink coffee."
– Luke Cage and Claire Temple, Luke Cage: "Suckas Need Bodyguards"

That's right, Karen and I are back with another HUGE episode of The Fandom Zone Podcast!  So huge, in fact, we've decided to split it up into two parts!

This week's reviews of comics on television include:

The Walking Dead 7x03: "The Cell"
Supergirl 2x05 -- "Crossfire"
Gotham 3x08 -- "Blood Rush"

Lucifer 2x07 -- "My Little Monkey"
Arrow 5x06 -- "So It Begins"
Legends of Tomorrow 2x05 -- "Compromised"
Luke Cage 1x06 -- "Suckas Need Bodyguards"

This time, we talk about things like my Cumberbatch Doctor Strange Funko figure, the importance of paying to support comic book movies, trying to cheer everyone up after a down week in politics, Karen wondering why Benedict Cumberbatch is hot, the Community episode about Who's the Boss?, Daryl crying to Roy Orbison, why feeding Daryl dog food sammiches is no big deal, Karen cougaring over Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian, why Polaroid cameras are important in the zombie apocalypse, Alex Danvers being attracted to Maggie Sawyer, why it's important to push social boundaries more than ever, Mon-El makin' copies with Miss Tessmacher, the difference between Infinite Crisis and Identity Crisis, wondering what was up with Lee at her engagement party, the Riddler telling Isabella to leave the glasses on, Lucifer impersonating Detective Douche, Lucifer and Mazikeen giving Chloe a safe space to kill the guy who killed her father, Thea being shocked that Quentin the alcoholic who never quit drinking is still drinking, wondering why Green Arrow's recruits never pieced it together that the Hood, the Arrow and the Green Arrow are all the same guy, the nightmare of a Thea and Evelyn spotlight episode, wondering why characters who should know better refer to shurikens as "throwing stars," Team Arrow's overly repetitive trust issues, the greatness of Lance Henriksen, Heat Wave stealing every damn scene he's in, the first three CDs I ever purchased, why Sara is responsible for creating the Legion of Doom, Mariah's really awkward TV interview, Claire as the Phil Coulson of the Netflix Marvel characters, some feedback from Justina, and more!

You can now check out episodes of The Fandom Zone using...

Google Play Music
 -- HERE 
iTunes -- HERE
Direct Download MP3s/Libsyn -- HERE
The Fandom Zone on Facebook -- HERE
The Fandom Zone on Twitter -- @FandomZoneCast

And if that isn't enough for you, you can also check us out on YouTube, Libsyn, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and the official Southgate Media Group website!  Oh, and if you're interested in an officially official Fandom Zone Podcast t-shirt that all the cool kids are wearing, you can get those on TeePublic HERE as well!  Feel free to post a picture on our Facebook page of you or some other cool person you know wearing the shirt!

Be sure to come back next week, as we review the seventh episode of Luke Cage, and new episodes of The Walking Dead, Supergirl, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Gotham, Lucifer, and Arrowright here on The Fandom Zone Podcast!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

NEXT STOP EVERYWHERE 069: "The Eleventh Hour" is Up!


"So...All of time and space, everything that ever happened or ever will.  Where do you wanna start...?"
– The Eleventh Doctor to Amy PondDoctor Who: "The Eleventh Hour"

My partner in time Jesse Jackson and I are back with a new episode of Next Stop Everywhere: The Doctor Who Podcast!  In this episode, we review "The Eleventh Hour", the classic episode from 2010 starring Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor and Karen Gillan as Amy Pond!

This time, Jesse and I discuss things like my longtime fan perspective of adjusting to a new Doctor vs. Jesse's NuWho perspective, how Jesse started watching Doctor Who, Jesse's Mark Sheppard anecdote, the episode's connection to Superman (1978), the difficulty of beating Tom Baker's record as the Doctor, our first reactions to Matt Smith, more of the cycle of Doctor Who fans embracing a new Doctor, the first time being introduced to a companion as a child, the Eleventh Doctor trying to win the audience over as he tries to win Amy over, the beginning of the Steven Moffat era, back in the day before Doctor Who went mainstream, lifting your spirits up after a rough week in politics, my Reverse the Reverse the Polarity segment, and more!

If you'd like to check out this episode, you can find us on...

Google Play Music -- RIGHT HERE
iTunes -- RIGHT HERE
Stitcher -- RIGHT HERE
Direct MP3 downloads/Libsyn --  RIGHT HERE
Next Stop Everywhere's Facebook page
Next Stop Everywhere's Twitter account

And hey, if you'd like to pick up the officially official Next Stop Everywhere t-shirt, you can find it on TeePublic right HERE!  Help support the show and feel free to post pictures on our Facebook page of you or some other cool person you know wearing the shirt!

Be sure to come back soon as Jesse and I review "The Power of the Daleks", the classic episode from 1966 recently recreated in animation starring Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor, Anneke Wills as Polly, and Michael Craze as Ben Jackson!  Look for more of Next Stop Everywhere on iTunes, Google Play Music, YouTube, Libsyn, Soundcloud, Sticher, and the official Southgate Media Group website!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Marvel's THE INHUMANS Movie is Now an ABC TV Series


So much for the big screen.

Marvel announced late yesterday that their planned Marvel's The Inhumans film based on their characters will now be an ABC television series instead.  However, in an unusual move, the new series will premiere in IMAX commercial theatres before debuting on ABC. This follows on the film being removed from Marvel's film schedule in April 2016.

The Inhumans were introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the second season of ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with further introduction in the third season.  This was the first live-action adaptation of the Inhumans, but has not yet featured any member of the Inhuman Royal Family.

According to the press release, "a version of the first two episodes of Marvel Television’s new series Marvel’s The Inhumans -- produced in conjunction with ABC Studios and filmed entirely with IMAX digital cameras -- will run worldwide exclusively in IMAX for two weeks at the beginning of September 2017.  ABC plans to then premiere the weekly series in fall, with additional exclusive content that can only be seen on the network."

In addition, the release claims that ABC, IMAX and Marvel Television will work together to create a joint marketing and promotion plan for the series across their proprietary media platforms, the first cross-platform marketing launch of a television series.  The agreement also marks IMAX’s first time as a financing participant in a TV pilot and series.

"This unprecedented alliance represents a bold, innovative approach to launching great TV content for a worldwide audience," said Ben Sherwood, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group.  "It highlights Disney/ABC’s unrelenting commitment to finding new and creative ways to showcasing our very best programming and increasing global engagement and reach."

"This first-of-its-kind multi-platform production, distribution and marketing agreement brings together Marvel Television’s unique brand of entertainment, ABC’s unparalleled audience and IMAX’s brand and global fanboy demographic," said IMAX CEO, Rich Gelfond.  "It also takes our decades-long relationship with The Walt Disney Company to a whole new level, jointly breaking new ground in the industry.  We are confident our exhibition partners will be excited to work with us on this innovative launch of a series across the IMAX network."

"We're happy to see this unique deal come together, working with our partners," said Dan Buckley, President, Marvel Television, Publishing & Brand.  "In an ever-changing world of distribution and consumption, it’s very exciting to be part of a groundbreaking initiative that takes us to the forefront of this evolution."


Created in 1965 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Inhumans first appeared Fantastic Four (vol.1) #45.  At the beginning of the Kree-Skrull War, millions of years ago, the alien Kree established a station on the planet Uranus, a strategic position between the Kree and Skrull empires.  Through their work at this station, they discovered that sentient life on nearby Earth had genetic potential invested in it by the alien Celestials.  Intrigued, the Kree began to experiment on Earth's then-primitive Homo Sapiens to produce the genetically advanced Inhuman race.  Their goal was to investigate possible ways of circumventing their own evolutionary stagnation, and to create a powerful mutant race of soldiers for use against the Skrulls.  Although their experiments were successful in creating a strain of humanity with extraordinary abilities, the Kree abandoned their experiment because a genetic prophecy had predicted that the experiments would eventually lead to an anomaly who would destroy the Kree Supreme Intelligence.

Their test subjects, the Inhumans, went on to form a society of their own in Attilan, which thrived in seclusion from the rest of humanity and developed advanced technology. Experiments with the mutagenic Terrigen Mist (a process known as Terrigenesis) gave them various powers, but caused lasting genetic damage and deformities.  This led to a long-term selective breeding program in an attempt to mitigate the effects of these mutations.

Until recently, the Inhumans were led by their king, Black Bolt, and his Royal Family, consisting of Medusa, Karnak, Gorgon, Triton, Crystal, Maximus the Mad, and the canine Lockjaw.  Both Crystal and Medusa have been members of the Fantastic Four, while Crystal has also been a member of the Avengers.  Black Bolt guided the Inhumans through some of the most turbulent times in their history, including several attempts by Maximus to usurp the throne, revolts by the worker class (with their eventual emancipation), attacks by human renegades, the kidnapping of Medusa, the destruction and rebuilding of Attilan, and the revelation of the Inhumans' existence to humanity.

During the events of Infinity, Thanos and his forces attacked Attilan and offered to spare the city in exchange for a tribute -- the deaths of all Inhumans between the ages of 16 and 22. Black Bolt surmised that the offering is a ruse to hide the fact that Thanos actually desired the death of Thane, a half-Inhuman youth he had fathered years earlier.  The search for Thane eventually revealed that secret Inhuman tribes have existed on Earth for years and mated with its population, producing a number of seemingly-normal humans who possess dormant Inhuman genes.  In response to Thanos' threat, Black Bolt and Maximus evacuated Attilan before destroying it as a show of defiance.  The destruction of the city activated the Terrigenisis Bomb, a creation of Maximus, which spread the Terrigen Mist across the globe and activated special abilities within numerous unsuspecting humans who were Inhuman descendants.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

THE FANDOM ZONE 081: "Monster" is Up!


"Halloween is the one night you get to be whatever you want."
– Beatrice "Trixie" Espinoza to Mazikeen, Lucifer: "Monster"

Somewhat healthier this week, Karen and I are back with another HUGE episode of The Fandom Zone Podcast!

This week's reviews of comics on television include:

The Walking Dead 7x02: "The Well"
Supergirl 2x04 -- "Survivors"
Gotham 3x07 -- "Red Queen"
Lucifer 2x06 -- "Monster"
The Flash 3x05 -- "Monster"
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4x06 -- "The Good Samaritan"
Arrow 5x05 -- "Human Target"
Legends of Tomorrow 2x04 -- "Abominations"
Luke Cage 1x05 -- "Just to Get a Rep"

This time, we talk about things like Karen's Ghost Rider Funko figure, making room on your phone for a 3-hour podcast, Carol meeting Ezekiel, Shiva the destroyer, Karen's cougar sound that's actually a jaguar, zombie-flavored pigs, Ezekiel and Carol each having the other's number, Dichen Lachman as Roulette, the unexpected appearance of Draaga, why you shouldn't worry that Miss Martian is a White Martian, Stabby Babs looking hot in the elevator operator outfit, the awkwardness of the Penguin wanting to tell the Riddler his true feelings, Lucifer not coping with the death of his brother Uriel, Lucifer revealing his true face to Dr. Linda, why it's great to have Mazikeen take you trick-or-treating, Mazikeen revealing her true face to Trixie, Emperor Palpatine approving of Caitlin's anger, Julian Albert whining about not getting metahuman superpowers, my speculative theory about H.R. Wells and his wand-like drumsticks, Johnny Blaze as Ghost Rider, my having the Rick Springfield Human Target TV series on VHS, Heat Wave as Schrödinger's cat, Legends of Tomorrow stepping their game up by addressing racism, wondering what Ray Palmer's codename will be as Captain Cold's replacement, Claire Temple meeting Luke Cage again, some feedback from Justina, the welcome return of Karen's Heat Wave and Thea Queen impressions, and more!

You can now check out episodes of The Fandom Zone using...

Google Play Music
 -- HERE 
iTunes -- HERE
Direct Download MP3s/Libsyn -- HERE
The Fandom Zone on Facebook -- HERE
The Fandom Zone on Twitter -- @FandomZoneCast

And if that isn't enough for you, you can also check us out on YouTube, Libsyn, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and the official Southgate Media Group website!  Oh, and if you're interested in an officially official Fandom Zone Podcast t-shirt that all the cool kids are wearing, you can get those on TeePublic HERE as well!  Feel free to post a picture on our Facebook page of you or some other cool person you know wearing the shirt!

Be sure to come back next week, as we review the sixth episode of Luke Cage, and new episodes of The Walking Dead, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Gotham, Lucifer, and Arrowright here on The Fandom Zone Podcast!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

DAMN Good Movies -- DOCTOR STRANGE


That's right, I'm back once again with another movie take, this time on the movie Doctor Strange, based on the classic Marvel Comics mystical 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...welcome to the Sanctum Sanctorum...

As some of you know, It's been a long road to see Doctor Strange on the big screen.  The project first came to life in 1986, with a script by Back to the Future's Bob Gale that went nowhere.  Another script by Alex Cox and Doctor Strange co-creator Stan Lee turned up in 1989, which also went nowhere.  In 1992, Wes Craven became involved to write and direct and (Surprise!) that also went nowhere.  More disheartening attempts followed in 1995 (David S. Goyer), 1997 (Jeff Welch), 2000 (Michael France), 2001 (Goyer again), and 2010 (Thomas Dean Donnelly & Joshua Oppenheimer).

In 2013, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed that Doctor Strange would finally happen as part of Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Scott Derrickson was tapped as director, while the title role almost went to Tom Hardy, Jared Leto, Joaquin Phoenix, and Ryan Gosling, until Marvel wisely decided to change the film's production schedule to accommodate Benedict Cumberbatch, the guy they actually wanted in the first place.

The film opens in Kathmandu, Nepal, with the Slytherin sorcerer Kaecilius and his henchzealots breaking into a compound called Kamar-Taj to steal a ritual from a book belonging to the Ancient One, another sorcerer who is (Surprise!) ancient but was dumb enough to train Kaecilius in the mystic arts.  There's a brief confrontation between the two, but Kaecilius gets away with the pages he wanted because obviously.

From there, we're introduced to Dr. Stephen Strange, acclaimed neurosurgeon and arrogant Tony Stark substitute.  As the smartest man in the room, Strange believes he's infallible and on top of the world, making his inevitable fall that much harder when he lands.  In the most successful "Don't drive and text" ad ever, Strange flips his expensive ride over a hillside, which costs him the use of his skilled surgeon's hands.  Strange, desperate for a treatment that will restore the only thing that gives his life meaning, burns through all his financial resources and makes one last attempt by checking out a lead in, you guessed it, Kamar-Taj. After Strange has a cup of tea (with honey) with the Ancient One, the replacement librarian Wong, and his future arch-enemy another sorcerer named Karl Mordo, we're finally off to the races.

The Ancient One shows Strange her power by shoving him right out of his body onto the astral plane and sending him rocketing through all kinds of dimensions and realities.  The tricksy special effects used from this point on are some of the most disorienting and insane visuals I've seen on film, channeling the classic otherworldly artwork of Doctor Strange co-creator Steve Ditko one moment, then turning the building effects in Inception up to eleven the next.  If Doctor Strange doesn't land at least an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects, it's all the dreaded Dormammu's fault.

While I'm on the subject of ol' Dormie, it turns out Kaecilius' big plan (remember that stolen ritual from three paragraphs ago?) is to use the stolen pages to summon the mega-powerful Dormammu of the Dark Dimension, where time doesn't exist and everyone can live forever. The downside, of course, is that Earth will be under Dormammu's control, which may make things a little awkward at your really big family reunion.  As it happens, three buildings called Sanctums protect Earth from threats like Dormammu, but Kaecilius and the henchzealots take out the London Sanctum, and are about to do the same to the New York Sanctum until Doctor Strange shows up and holds them off until the Ancient One and Mordo arrive.

We head into the film's Third Act with the Ancient One taken off the board in a sequence to briefly reunite Strange with Christine Palmer, his former lover, before sending him to Hong Kong.  There, Strange finds Wong dead and the Hong Kong Sanctum destroyed, but thanks to the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey Eye of Agamotto, it ain't nothin' but a thang.  The final showdown between Doctor Strange and Dormammu essentially becomes a Groundhog Day reset, with Strange creating a really annoying time loop trap that forces Dormammu to leave Earth and take Kaecilius and his pesky henchzealots with him.  At this point, to quote Bill Murray at the end of Ghostbusters, it's Miller Time.

The film ends with yet another tease for Avengers: Infinity War, then teases Thor: Ragnarok and a Doctor Strange sequel for good measure.  So needless to say, you haven't seen the last of the good doctor, especially with Robert Downey, Jr. not long for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  After all, someone has to keep the facial hair status quo...

Okay, some random thoughts about the various Doctor Strange characters:

DOCTOR STRANGE/STEPHEN STRANGE -- To the surprise of no one, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange is perfect casting.  After years of playing guys like Sherlock Holmes and Khan Noonien Singh, Cumberbatch has the whole "smartest guy in the room" act down cold, albeit here with an American accent.  He absolutely nails Strange's initial arrogance and resistance to Eastern mysticism, while gradually shifting his character into a more appealing hero.

KAECILIUS -- Mads Mikkelsen, as anyone who saw Casino Royale or the Hannibal TV series knows, gives good villain.  The problem with Kaecilius, however, is that's he not a villain you love to loathe.  His big plan to have everyone living together in a realm where time doesn't exist doesn't sound all that bad, until you start thinking about being under the role of an otherdimensional dark lord.

KARL MORDO -- Chiwetel Ejiofor may not be the first name you think of when it comes to Baron Mordo, but he does well enough for a character who isn't going to reach his potential until a future sequel.  Ejiofor first hit my geek radar as The Operative in the movie Serenity, so I knew he was more than capable of playing a multi-faceted bad guy.  I can't wait to see Mordo go full Dark Side, hopefully sooner rather than later.

NIGHT NURSE/CHRISTINE PALMER -- As the much-needed female character to break up the film's sorcerer sausage fest, Rachel McAdams kept fans guessing if she was going to be Doctor Strange's disciple and love interest Clea.  That sadly wasn't the case, and McAdams ends up pretty much wasted as Christine Palmer, a character who mainly exists to help show a contrast between Strange's life before and after becoming a sorcerer.  

WONG -- The irony of Benedict Wong being cast as Wong isn't lost on me, but he's terrific as deadpan comic relief.  The scene of Wong listening to BeyoncĂ© is a particular highlight, and it was great to have the character treated as a fellow sorcerer instead of a traditional manservant as he is in the comics.

THE ANCIENT ONE -- Okay, here we go, the controversial casting decision to have British actress Tilda Swinton seems like another awkward whitewashing of a great role for an Asian actor, or at the very least, a misguided attempt to avoid stereotyping the character.  I can appreciate Marvel's desire to work another female character into Doctor Strange's origin and make her more important than Christine, but this wasn't the way to do it.  Swinton being androgynous once again in a bald cap with a few fake scars isn't an acceptable substitute for an older Asian actor with real gravitas.

DORMAMMU -- Big D was a bit of a letdown for me, since he only shows up in the Third Act as a big mo-cap CGI face that's just one step above Cloudactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.  Hopefully, he returns in a future sequel, depicted in a more traditional form, and gets more to do than be suckered into a time loop.

NICODEMUS WEST -- Michael Stuhlbarg plays Strange's rival as a surgeon, initially as the target of Strange's trolling and later on as the surgeon Strange is forced to rely on because his hands are unable to save the Ancient One (who ends up dying anyway, but whatevs). Nicodemus is another character that might be better served in a sequel, especially if he ends up learning sorcery to rival Strange once again.

OBLIGATORY STAN LEE CAMEO -- Stan "The Man" turns up as a bus rider reading Aldous Huxley's The Doors of Perception while a mystical battle rages in Manhattan.

THOR CAMEO -- During the bonus mid-credits scene, Chris Hemsworth reprises everyone's favorite God of Thunder to set the stage for Doctor Strange appearing in Thor: Ragnarok.  It's a fun and interesting cameo, with Strange agreeing to help Thor find his foster brother Loki only if Thor and the other Asgardians leave Earth.  Could this be how Thor gets taken off the board when Hemsworth's contract is finished?

All in all, Doctor Strange is the solid origin story of Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme that fans hoped it would be.  As nice as it would be to skip the origin in a character's first film, there's just so much backstory with Doctor Strange that needed explained and Derrickson does his job well.  When you find yourself leaving the theater dying to see what happens next, as I most certainly did, that's the sign of a great movie.

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. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
4. The Avengers (2012)
5. Batman Begins (2005)
6. Man of Steel (2013)
7. Doctor Strange (2016)
8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
9. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
10. Spider-Man (2002)

11. Iron Man (2008)
12. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
13. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
14. Watchmen (2009)
15. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
16. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
17. X-Men: First Class (2011)
18. Suicide Squad (2016)
19. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
20. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

ARROW Casts Lexa Doig as Talia al Ghul


At this point, Oliver Queen should be wearing a bat logo on his chest.

Variety has word that the CW series Arrow has cast Lexa Doig as Talia al Ghul, the daughter of DC Comics supervillain Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) and half-sister of Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law).

According to the article, Talia will first appear in the tenth episode of Season 5 and is described as "Talia, like Nyssa, is an elite warrior, excelling in multiple different forms of combat.  Unlike her sister though, she refuses to pick sides and instead creates her own."

Doig, 43, is best known as Andromeda Ascendant/Rommie on the TV series Andromeda and as Sonya Valentine on the series Continuum.  In addition, she's appeared in the movie Jason X and other television appearances include episodes of Primeval: New World, Smallville, V (2010), Supernatural, Eureka, The 4400, The Chris Isaak Show, Earth: Final Conflict, and TekWar.


Created in 1971 by Dennis O'Neil and Bob Brown, Talia al Ghul first appeared in Detective Comics (vol.1) #411 as the daughter of Ra's al Ghul, who is rescued by Batman from Dr. Darrk, apparently the leader of the League of Assassins.  It was eventually revealed that the League is just one part of Ra's al Ghul's organization, The Demon, and that Darrk apparently turned against Ra's after failing in a mission and the usual punishment being death.  At the end of the story, she shot and killed Darrk to save Batman's life.

In Batman's next encounter with Talia, Dick Grayson (Robin) was kidnapped and Ra's al Ghul entered the Batcave, revealing to Batman that he knows Batman's secret identity and that Talia was also kidnapped along with Dick.  Batman went with Ra's to search for Dick and Talia, but in the end, it was revealed that Talia loved Batman and that the entire kidnapping was a setup designed by Ra's as a final test of Batman's suitability to be Talia's husband and his successor.  Though Batman rejected Ra's offer, he nevertheless returned Talia's feelings.  Ra's and Talia considered Batman to be married to Talia with only their consent necessary.

A later encounter had Ra's al Ghul successfully enlisting Batman's aid in defeating a rogue assassin who had murdered his wife and Talia's mother, Melisande.  Talia witnessed the murder as a young child.  Batman married Talia and the conjugal relations result in her becoming pregnant, but Batman was nearly killed protecting Talia from an attack by the assassin's agents.  In the end, Talia concluded that she can never keep Batman, because he will be continuously forced to defend her.  She faked a miscarriage, and the marriage was dissolved, with Talia later giving birth to their son in secret.

Their son was grown in an artificial womb and named Damian.  Raised and trained in the League of Assassins, Damian was introduced to Batman by Talia introduces him to Batman as part of a grand scheme involving ninja man-bats and the kidnapping of the British Prime Minister's wife.  Following Batman's apparent death, Talia apparently decided to leave Damian in the hands of his adopted brother Dick Grayson, who later took on the role of Batman, and selected Damian to succeed Tim Drake as Robin.

Doig will be the third actress to portray Talia in live action, after Marion Cottilard in the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises, and Milli Wilkinson, who played Talia as a child in the TV series Legends of Tomorrow.  The character has also appeared in various animated projects, including Batman: The Animated Series (voiced by Helen Slater), Superman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond (voiced by Olivia Hussey), Batman: The Brave and the Bold (voiced by Andrea Bowen), and Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin and Batman: Bad Blood (voiced by Morena Baccarin).

Arrow airs Wednesday nights on The CW at 8:00 p.m. EST.