SciFi Weekend: The 12th Doctor; The Next Batman; SHIELD And The Avengers; Captain America; Star Wars; Star Trek; Homeland; Dexter; The White Queen; Piracy

Last week white smoke emerged from the BBC and soon afterwards Peter Capaldi was introduced as the 12th Doctor on a show simulcast in the U.K., the United States, Canada, and Australia (video above). BBC America has a run down on the news coverage. The Guardian introduces Capaldi to non-Brits.

Every time there is a regeneration, there is speculation that the next Doctor might not someone other than a white male. Neil Gaiman claims that a black actor has turned down the role. Steven Moffat, Matt Smith, and Jenna Coleman discussed the transition in this interview. An excerpt:

Is writing that final story for Matt Smith’s Doctor the biggest pressure you’ve faced, in doing this show?

MOFFAT:  The biggest pressure will always be introducing a new Doctor.  And I can’t imagine it will ever be tougher than with “The Eleventh Hour” because everything changed.  It’s not an ideal way to run television.  It really isn’t.  That was mad.  All the execs left, the producer left, and all the stars left.  You think, “Christ, how do you get away with that?!”  We’re not in that situation this time, and it’s good that we’re not.  People say, “It must have been great and exciting and marvelous that you had all that new stuff,” but not really.  But, we got away with it.  I just remember thinking, “Are people going to buy that this is the same show, when it clearly is not?”

Do you wish that you could just introduce the new Doctor via the show, when he finally shows up?

MOFFAT:  I’d love to, but that’s physically impossible.  It was Russell’s plan not to tell anyone that Chris [Eccleston] was going to change in the last episode, but it leaked after one week.  I wish it were possible.   The fact is that those actors’ agents have to say that they’re available.  They have to take jobs.  It’s going to leak, so you have to take command of that story.  It’s annoying.  I’d far rather not tell anybody anything, seriously.  If you’re telling a joke, you don’t want anybody telling the punchline before you get to the end.  Sadly, I don’t think it’s possible now.  Everybody wanders around with cameras now.  A few years ago, no one had a camera on them.  Now, every little human being goes around with a camera on their phone.  How am I going to keep secrets with that?!  It’s tough.  It can be irritating, but what can you do?

Moffat started with a new cast with both Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. With Jenna Coleman still being relatively new to the series, the show with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman will have a different feel than during most of Moffat’s tenure with Matt Smith and the Ponds.

Now that we know who will play the next Doctor, the next major succession is who will play Batman when he appears in the next Superman movie. Rumor has it that Orlando Bloom is the leading contender.

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Joss Whedon discussed synergy between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the universe of The Avengers:

Speaking at the recent TCAs, Whedon said fans will spot some synergy in the run-up to Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor: The Dark World. “There will be as much as we can allow,” he said. “We’re still working that out. It’s a fun opportunity, but it’s not the reason for the show. It’s not an Easter egg farm, we want people to come back.”

The pilot kicks off with Angel alumnus J August Richards as an “unregistered gifted” that the SHIELD agents must track down. Don’t expect a superhero-of-the-week show, though, “There could be a device, a mystery,” Whedon continued.

“There’s so many aspects as to what’s happened since everybody in the world found out there’s a superhero team and aliens invaded New York. We want to be able to change it up every week: spy stuff, hero stuff, heartfelt stuff. We want to make sure the humor is there, but every week, you get something that feels a little bit different.”

Disney has also released a full synopsis for Captain America: The Winter Soldier

After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk.

Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy—the Winter Soldier.

These Avengers-themed sex toys will definitely never be sold at the many stores around the Disney theme parks, even should the Avengers characters be moved from Universal to WDW in the future.

ABC is in talks to bring another genre show to television–a live action Star Wars show. I really hope this happens, not because I care whether there is a weekly Star Wars show but because maybe this would lead CBS (who appears to own the rights, but it is somewhat murky) to counter by returning Star Trek to television. Star Trek worked far better as a weekly series than intermittent movies which are forced by market demands to be big action movies.

After Disney purchased the rights to Star Wars, there was talk of expanding the Star Wars presence at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. I expressed skepticism over speculation that they would  get rid of Muppet Vision 3D and the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground for this expansion. Earlier in the week I was looking at the refurbishment schedule at Walt Disney World and noticed that Muppet Vision 3D is closed August 6 through September 2 for refurbishment. In addition, the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Playground will be closed September 3 through November 19 for refurbishment. They might not be around forever, but it doesn’t appear likely that they plan to remove them in the near future. As is usually the case at WDW, other areas will also be closed during these times. The most significant is that Spaceship Earth will be closed August 18-24.

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On Orange is the New Black, Kate Mulgrew ran the prison kitchen instead of the Starship Voyager. She was interviewed by Vulture, and told about one Star Trek reference thrown into the show:

At one point Natasha Lyonne has a line, “I thought I was your Spock.”
Yes, they threw that in. I’m sure they’ll do some more of that. I think that was intentional and very clever!

Speaking of Star Trek, Blastr describes how the show was saved by Lucille Ball.

In 1965, Roddenberry got a pilot order from NBC and produced the original Star Trek pilot “The Cage.” It was rejected by the network, reportedly because it was “too cerebral,” and for most shows that’s where the story would have ended. Luckily for Roddenberry, he had Ball on his side. The story goes that she still thought the Star Trek idea had legs, and used her considerable influence in television to push for NBC to give Roddenberry a second chance. The network made the exceedingly rare move of ordering a second pilot from Roddenberry, who overhauled almost the entire cast of characters from “The Cage” and eventually produced “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” That pilot was accepted, the show was given a series order, and the rest is history.

Damian Louis interviewed about his role on Homeland in the video above.

Anna Torv returns to television following Fringe in a show expected to air on HBO next year. Torv will play a lesbian yoga instructor.

Yvonne Strahovski as Hannah McKay (Season 7, episode 6) - Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime - Photo ID: dexter_706_0087

We don’t know yet how Dexter will end but executive producer Sara Colleton realizes that she can’t make everyone happy.

“This has been the ending that we have talked about for years,” she said. “So to us, it feels right for our show and how we feel about it. I hope fans will think it’s right [too].”

The exec conceded that there is no way to make “everybody happy” with the conclusion of the Michael C Hall series.

“At the end of the day, we know that you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t,” she said. “There will be people who hate it, but we can’t try to anticipate that or put it through the lens of any other show’s finale – because that was another show.

“This is our show. This is Dexter.”

It is hard to believe that things will end well for Dexter Morgan. Multiple routes to doom have arisen this season. So far this has included Dr. Vogel and Deb when she is in a crazy mood. Last week episode showed two additional threats. He has decided he wants to be a mentor to Zach Hamilton, but Zach appears unhinged enough to turn on Dexter. Then there was the return of Hannah McKay.

Having a hard time waiting until Game of Thrones returns? The White Queen on Starz might help.

Piracy drops when there are legal ways to view shows. It comes as no surprise that piracy has spiked in response to the Time Warner cable blackout of CBS.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Hannibal; Avengers; Under the Dome; Defiance; Bunheads; Renewed and Canceled Shows; Gone Girl Cast; Cookoo’s Calling

Matt Smith appeared on Craig Ferguson’s show on July 24. Video above.

Steven Moffat says he will clear up some of the hanging plot threads in Doctor Who this year in an interview with I09:

When we caught up with Moffat last weekend at Comic-Con, we asked him, “Do you feel like you owe viewers some closure on the big questions, like who blew up the TARDIS? Or what the Silence was up to?”

And he responded, “Well, we are going to do it all. It’s going to end at Christmas. Yeah, [there will be closure]. But ‘owe them’? I don’t know about ‘owing.’ But yeah, there’s a plan, and we will end the Eleventh Doctor’s run with the answers to some of those questions.”

And what about the biggest dangling plotline in Doctor Who history? Back in 1986, the Doctor met a dark alternate future version of himself known as the Valeyard, who put him on trial and tried to steal his remaining lives. And the Valeyard was never mentioned again — until the most recent Who story, “The Name of the Doctor,” when his name came up.

How does the mention of the Valeyard tie in with the trend of the Doctor acting more dark? Are we going to see him again? We asked Moffat, and he responded,

Well, I couldn’t resist saying ‘The Valeyard,’ because we haven’t mentioned him in the new series. [Laughs] So I thought, ‘I’ll just put that one in.’ I never quite understood, in ‘Trial of a Time Lord,’ what he was meant to be. I never understood if he was a real Doctor, or [something else]. But in a story where we are hinting that the Doctor has a hidden chapter to his life, it was irresistible to mention the Valeyard. But you know, he’ll only ever get so dark, let’s be honest. He’s the Doctor. I think a man who worries about going bad is never really going to go bad. Maybe not.

As for the Doctor’s wife, River Song, she is not a dangling plot any longer — and in fact Moffat seems pretty happy with how he left her in “The Name of the Doctor.” At this point, he seems to feel as though he’s told the story he wanted to tell about her.

He adds that he’s “not quite sure” if we’ll see her again. We could, because we’re seeing her out of sequence in the past, “and clearly the implication is that she’s met more than two Doctors. But the question is whether or not we should” revisit her. He adds that “it’ll now be story-driven”: If he has the perfect idea for a story that involves River Song, she’ll be back. “But I quite liked where we got to at the end of ‘The Name of the Doctor,’ with him saying goodbye to her. So we’ll see.”

It doesn’t sound from this that the theories of the John Hurt Doctor being the Valeyard are correct, but this could also be misdirection on Moffat’s part. There are also rumors that a scene is being filmed showing the regeneration from Paul McGann’s Doctor to John Hurt’s Doctor, which might be shown as a prequel.

The BBC has figured out how to prevent spoilers from getting out after the initial airing of the 50th anniversary episode. It will be aired worldwide at the same time. (Unfortunately November 23 is a football Saturday and I still might wind up putting off watching until later in the day, depending upon the football schedule.)

Hannibal

Bryan Fuller discussed Hannibal with A.V. Club. Some of the question and answers from the four-part interview follow:

AVC: This is a prequel to stories we’ve already seen, and you’ve been very open about your plan for the series going forward. How do you keep the suspense? How do you keep overriding tension when we know where this is going?

BF: Well, we know that Hannibal is going to get caught and that he’s going to end up in the Baltimore State Hospital For The Criminally Insane, but a lot can happen to get there. I think the big move in there was to frame Will Graham and have him take the fall for a lot of these murders, which, right off the bat, introduced a completely new concept to the backstory, but also gave us a way to hold off incarcerating Hannibal Lecter for a while, because we have such a new twist to the story, where Jack Crawford is going to be bonding more with Hannibal Lecter, which really informs his distrust and disdain for this character when we get to the Silence Of The Lambs or Red Dragon era of the story. So it felt like we have now all of this opportunity to tell the specific details of a story that only existed between the lines of the book.

AVC: This episode really starts the relationship with Will and Hannibal together in therapy. You’re really interested in both presenting Hannibal as a credible therapist and in the process of seeing two people in a room talking together, which is different for a crime procedural. How did those two elements come to enter the show’s world?

BF: Well, there’s a certain amount of budgetary restraints with the show, because we are not a big-budget show. In the path we had gone down initially, we laid out a version of the show for the network, and the network said that it wanted it to be much more case oriented and procedural. So we laid out that version of the show, and it was very, very expensive. And nobody wanted to increase the budget, so it was really a matter of going back to… fortunately the budget was our friend in that way, because I did want to tell a psychological horror story, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time at crime scenes when I could be finding out what characters are going through. And the best, simplest way for that was for people to sit down and talk about it. We fortunately are dealing with psychiatrists, so [Laughs.] it’s a great platform to have people say what they mean and what they feel and have it feel relatively natural, given the context of where they’re having those conversations. So it was initially a budgetary thing, but I think for the benefit of the show—and the stories I was interested in telling—were much more psychological and could sustain sitting down and talking about them.

Before I was going to be a writer, I was going to be a psychiatrist, so I’m fascinated with psychiatry and how it can go wrong and how it can be incredibly helpful for the patient. So I thought it was a great opportunity to tell a story about psychiatrists. And we have a lot of psychiatrist characters on the show. [Laughs.] It felt like that’s our world and these are our characters, so they are going to be talking about psychiatry. And we tried to get the psychiatry to be as honest as possible, given what we needed to tell, story-wise.

AVC: Will she be able to be in future seasons? She has a new show at midseason on NBC.

BF: We absolutely want her to be. She absolutely wants to be. It’s going to be working out the schedule with the other show, and we know that it’s about the schedule. We were very flexible with her last year. Actually, she was in five episodes, and we filmed all of her material over three days. We got her for three days, got her in, did the five episodes, and got her out, because she has a family in London that she wants to spend time with. She’s very interested in coming back. Right now, she’s in the first episode of the second season, but we have to work out schedules and see if we can actually pull it off.

AVC: This episode brings Abigail’s arc to an end. Was she always going to die?

BF: We made that decision about halfway through the season. She wasn’t always going to die. It was one of those where we were going to kill off one of the regular characters, and the character that we were going to kill off, we felt like it wouldn’t be as devastating for that person to die, because we hadn’t fully serviced that character. Someone had said, “I don’t really care about that character dying, but if you’re going to kill somebody that’s going to make me upset, then Abigail Hobbs,” and I was like, “Yeah, that’s who we have to kill, isn’t it?” [Laughs.] It’s kind of as simple as, “Whose death would mean the most?” and it was Abigail’s.

AVC: Can you reveal who you were originally going to kill?

BF: No. Because we may kill them in the second season.

AVC: How important to you was it that he have that moment of realization somewhere in this season?

BF: Very important. Because the audience knows from the first frame, before Hannibal is even onscreen that we are telling the story of Hannibal Lecter, who is going to be caught by Will Graham and incarcerated, Will had to figure Hannibal out in the first season. Otherwise, it would feel like we were treading water and artificially distending the story to accommodate a television schedule, and I wanted each of these seasons to feel like a novel, as opposed to episodic television. It felt like, what a great way to begin the story and then end the story at that point. And end it iconographically with the Silence Of The Lambs shot of coming down the corridor of the Baltimore State Hospital For The Criminally Insane, to that last cell on the left and finding, not Hannibal Lecter, but Will Graham. And know that we are now taking a turn away from the canon that will somehow get us back into canon. But right now, we are departing from the literature into uncharted territory that will be unique to the television show. Then when we circle back into the timeline of the books and get to Red Dragon again, so much will have happened between these characters that will further inform their uniqueness to this show.

AVC: Will is incarcerated right now, and if you’re able to go on and do the later seasons, Hannibal will be incarcerated. How do you approach that question of writing a character who’s confined to a room, yet has to be one of the protagonists of the series?

BF: That’s the great thing about imagination is that Will’s imagination can transport him out of that room and into places, cinematically, that will allow him to continue being a pivotal part of the story, even though he’s locked up. One of the things that was really interesting in the books, is the concept of Hannibal’s memory palace, the place where he goes to survive incarceration with the virtual-reality system that exists between his ears. We’ll be seeing Will create his own version of the mind palace over the course of the second season.

AVC: How intricately did you think out Hannibal’s framing of Will? 

BF: It was pretty meticulously plotted. We knew that there were certain changes along the way, like we were originally going to deal with both the copycat killer and the Chesapeake Ripper in the first season, and then it felt like, as we got further into this season, that the story should be about the copycat killer primarily, and that the Chesapeake Ripper should serve to complicate Jack Crawford’s character. Then we could spike that ball in the second season.

Vulture outlines what we know, and what is being rumored, about the next Avengers movie, Age of Ultron. The story won’t be based upon the recent comic arc with this name, and there will be a new origin story. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch will be joining The Avengers. Joss Whedon also says that Black Widow will have a larger role in this movie.

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Under the Dome was disappointing last week (with the entire series so far not living up to my hopes for it). Did anyone really doubt that the mother of all bombs would hit the dome and nothing would happen inside? I could see where the inhabitants would be worried, but I would expect them to see the failure of the bomb to affect the dome as a possible outcome. I was not surprised to see Big Jim question whether to release Angie, and not all that surprised to see her back with Junior. The Hollywood Reporter conducted an interview with producer Brian K. Vaughan which answers some minor questions.

I’m glad I stuck with Defiance and finished the first season last week.  It is not the best science fiction around, but the show did become more interesting at the end of the season with the lives of so many main characters getting shook up. Amanda is no longer mayor and Nolan is now a free agent, leaving the two characters with fewer limitations and more potential. Bastr has more:

But it sounds like the Tarr Family will be the major source of drama for Season Two. Murphy expressed that they are what he’s looking forward to the most, having left them in a precarious position at the end of season one after Datak was arrested after winning the election, leaving the Tarrs broken. He will be missing in the beginning of the season (as will be Irisa).

“The family is constantly changing because the balance of power keeps changing.” Curran explained. “As the second season starts and progresses, if Datak is to survive, wherever he is, he has to learn not to be such a hot head. He has to be more pliable instead of brittle. Like steel when it’s brittle, it snaps. He needs to be more manipulative in his approach. His attack, kill and ask questions later obviously isn’t working for him. You can’t demand respect, you have to earn it. Unfortunately his way is very demanding and the future is going to get him in trouble again.”

Curran has read a few scripts from the second season and shared his excitement for the interesting stuff within the Tarr family that he found to be especially compelling. “It’s a sci-fi show set within this immigrant drama, and a lot of it puts the mirror up to society in many ways for immigrants around the world. I have a wife who’s Vietnamese, she was an immigrant from French-Bosnia-Serbia. So many ways there’s a lot of similarities in a lot of those aspects that I find compelling in the sci fi world as it pertains to our society. I think we’re going to touch on that with a lot of back story.”

Amy Sherman-Palladino’s show Bunheads has officially been canceled.David Weigel had previously called the best show on television. I wouldn’t go that far, but nobody other than Aaron Sorkin can write better dialog than her when she is hot. Unfortunately the show didn’t last long enough to rival Gilmore Girls.

John Williams is going to score the next three Star Wars movies. They wouldn’t be the same without his music .

Netflix is rapidly turning into a major source for new television material. Arrested Developmentwill return for another season. Netflix has also renewed Orange Is The New Black. It appears that HBO will be renewingThe Newsroom, perhaps with an official announcement coming soon.

It is looking like Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck will be playing the leads in the movie adaptation of Gone Girl.

J.K. Rowling says a sequel to Cuckoo’s Calling should be out next year.

SciFi Weekend: SDCC Part 2–Avengers; Karen Gillan Bald for Guardians of the Galaxy; Captain America; X-Men; Superman and Batman; Doctor Who; Matt Smith as Bart Simpson; True Blood; Person of Interest; Revolution; Community; How I Met Your Mother; Veronica Mars

There was lots of news on the Marvel Cinematic Universe out of San Diego Comic Con–video of panel above. This includes the name of the next Avengers movie, Age of Ultron, and a bald Karen Gillan (head shaved for Guardians of the Galaxy).

Comic-Con International 2013 - Day 3

Co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo were interviewed, explaining how Captain America: The Winter Soldier will bridge the two Avengers movies. Among other news is the report of star Chris Evans kissing Scarlett Johansson.

News on X-Men: Days of Futures Past is here.

The rumors of a combined Batman and Superman movie have been confirmed.

Matt Smith walked on the floor at Comic Con disguised at Bart Simpson (video above).

Steven Moffat says “we’re likely never going to see that final date night on Darillium with the Doctor and River Song, the one where he cries because he knows she’s going to die/get digitized on a library planet.”

The reason: Moffat’s too prude to put the Doctor and River in a room alone together. That said he might change his mind.

”I always felt that there were certain things between the Doctor and River that we should never see. So, I don’t know. He sort of said his goodbye in ‘The Name of the Doctor.’ There’s always the possibility, because it’s always out of sequence and you can do anything you like with that. It’s a tough one. I remember I wrote some extra scenes for the DVDs and all that we had available were Alex (actress Alex TK] and Matt, so I had to write scenes for the Doctor and River alone in the T.A.R.D.I.S. and I go, ‘Dear God, that’s the situation I’m always tring to avoid for obvious reasons.’ What does that woman do to him the moment the door is shut? What were they doing that night in Durillion. There are somet things surely the Time Lord must keep to himself.

“The implication is that she had met many more Doctors than just the two of them, so it’s always possible. But I quite liked the good bye in “The Name of the Doctor” and I think there should always be stuff that we never saw, and I don’t just mean that as a laugh.”

The above preview of the remainder of this season of True Blood was shown. There has been talk for a while that a major character would die this season and there does appear to be a funeral in these clips. Cast secrets revealed in these videos. The show has been renewed for another season. While the show has had its problems (including too many characters and story lines), I do see hope for improvement:

Executive Producer, Brian Buckner wants to bring the show back to its roots. While he acknowledges True Blood has a large cast, he wants to condense the number of stories they are telling and  “really come home.” And as for bringing in new creatures, right now he thinks no. He believes the show is about vampires, humans and the town. And wants to bring that back.

The big news on Person of Interest is that, as I had been rooting for, Amy Acker will become a regular next season. Cast interviews here.

Despite all its flaws, Revolution keeps me curious enough to keep watching. A trailer for the second season is above. The cast and crew revealed spoilers regarding the cliff hanger at the end of the first season. From Tracy Spiradakos (Charlie):

“I can tell you that the bombs do drop, so there’s an aftermath to dealing with that.” Holy moly! Randall completed his mission in destroying Atlanta and Philadelphia, apparently, and the destruction of those cities will completely change the feel of the show. The militias will be broken up, the show that was once all about being on the road will now settle into a particular spot near Texas, characters will be more consistent, and the stories will have some room to breathe since people won’t be as busy running from Point A to Point B. Additionally, even though the power went on in the finale, there will be a time-jump of about three months, and you can expect that it will be shut off again pretty soon.”

More spoilers from this, and other reports: The power is off permanently and the Tower is no longer functional. The Patriots supporting the old United States government represent a serious threat which forces Miles and Monroe to work together.

Ronald Moore on Helix and Battlestar Galactica.

Dan Harmon interviewed about season 5 of Community in the video above. News includes the departure of Donald Glover.

News on the final season of How I Met Your Mother posted here. More news here including comments from the kids.

Kristen Bell suggests that Veronica Mars might continue after the upcoming movie, possibly on Netflix as a way to get around contractual restrictions on appearing in two television shows:

CNN: Is this film finally going to give you a sense of closure on “Veronica Mars”?

Bell: No. This could be my whole life. And by the way, what a lucky life it would be if it were. There’s no formula for it, because it just has never been done before. Except — and I’m just throwing it out there — “Star Trek” did it. They did a TV show and then nine movies. Who knows? Why can’t we make a couple films? Or continue to produce content of “Veronica Mars”? It gets tricky because television contracts legally only allow you to do one episode of a different show. They purchase you. I am now the face of “House of Lies.” So the only way I would be able to reprise Veronica Mars (on TV) is in movie form.

CNN: What about if it were on Netflix?

Bell: There are some loopholes that we are already investigating.

Earlier news from San Diego Comic Con was posted here.

SciFi Weekend: SDCC Part 1–SHIELD, Matt Smith, Sherlock, Big Bang Theory, Hannibal, Dexter, Orphan Black, Veronica Mars, Game of Thrones, and More

There’s a lot of news coming out of San Diego Comic Con. Here’s some reports on panels held so far, with more to come.

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel is above. They also showed the pilot at ComicCon.  A description of the pilot can be read here.  Cobie Smulder will be reprising her role as Maria Hill in the pilot, and will have further appearances throughout the season.

Blastr has more:

The unofficial gag order surrounding the details of ABC/Marvel’s new drama, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., finally lifted at San Diego Comic-Con. With the unveiling of the pilot episode and the first press tour at the Con, we have a better sense of what the show will revolve around, aside from the mysterious return of assumed dead Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg).

According to executive producers Jeff Bell and Jeph Loeb, the series will focus on the humanity and smaller scale heroics dished out daily in the S.H.I.E.L.D trenches.

“To me, the movies have always been about people,” Bell explains. “There are all these giant monsters and heroes, but there have always been really interesting humans. Nick Fury is just a guy.”

Loeb adds, “Out tagline is “not all heroes are super” and that’s really important to us. It’s not just a tagline but it talks about the human condition in a way that is really important.”

Bell continues, “Jeph has a thing that I really like, although we can’t say [mutant] on our show because that’s not part of our world, but he says every person has a mutant gift and your job in your life is to figure out what your mutant gift is and how best to use it. I think that’s really cool.”

The embodiment of that everyday heroism is Coulson, a character that has become beloved to audiences.

Why? “Easy,” says Bell. “Clark Gregg. He showed up in the first Iron Man with a couple of lines and people watching said he was interesting. Along the way, he got in a little bit more. In The Avengers they made him a fan. He liked the cards and S.H.I.E.L.D. history. He was the audience surrogate in the movies. You could be this guy who shows up and does his job around these superheroes and is taken for granted. The way Clark presents the lines, people love it, so he is our way into the world.

Matt Smith makes his final appearance as the Doctor at the Brave New Warriors Panel.

Geek Tyrant on the Sherlock Panel:

They dove right into last season’s cliffhanger: How did he survive? They aren’t telling, but they did know how it worked before they filmed it, so they aren’t just flying by the seat of their pants. It is a rational answer, not black magic. Depsite reports that Andrew Scott was back on set to film scenes for the third season, they swear Moriarty is actually dead. “What, did they fake suicide at each other? Were you faking? I was faking, too!” That’s not going to happen. As for speculation that he can’t be dead because they didn’t show the back off his head come off–sorry to say they just aren’t allowed to show that level of violence on BBC1.

Moffatt knows people are excited to learn how Sherlock managed it, but he doesn’t think it’s that interesting. That’s just an answer. But when John Watson realizes that Sherlock is alive, when they come face to face again? “That moment is electrifying.” And it’s funny. Moffatt calls it “the showstopper of the season.”

Moffatt always gives hints about what Sherlock Holmes stories the next season will hit, and for Season 3, he’s said, “Rat, Wedding, and Bow.” The first episode is called “The Empty Hearse” and is very slightly based on “The Adventures of the Empty House.” It is mostly an exploration of the affect of Sherlock’s “death” and reappearance on the people who loved him. The writers realized that there would be a lot of fallout from the events of last season, but they couldn’t spend all of this season talking about last season, so it sounds like they’re going to deal with it in this episode.

Episode 2 is called “The Sign of Three,” and seems to focus on Watson’s wedding, and you guys? They showed us a clip, and it was amazing! They asked us not to even tell anyone about it, but eff that noise! We’re at Watson’s wedding reception, and Sherlock is beginning his toast. Yeah, amazing. He begins awkwardly (of course), “John… John Watson…” and explains that when Watson asked him to be his best man, he was confused. Then it flashes back, to Watson walking in on Sherlock appleying a blowtorch to a disembodied eyeball, which he promptly dips in his cup of tea. Watson says that they need to talk about the best man, and Sherlock starts going on and on about who he thinks the best man is. Watson interrupts and says he means the best man at his wedding. Sherlock starts talking about one of Watson’s friends, Watson says not him, then another, Watson says that he isn’t his best friend, and says that at his wedding he wants the two people who are closest to him and mean the most to him by his side, and tells Sherlock that it’s him. Sherlock’s jaw drops. Cut back to the wedding, and Sherlock is explaining his reaction, how he told him how he was touched and honored… cut back to Sherlock still standing there, speechless. He knew it would be an important and difficult task… cut to Sherlock, still standing there, speechless. Sherlock says he then realized he hadn’t said anything out loud. Sherlock accepts, and promptly drinks the eyeball tea.

There wasn’t much information on the third episode but it was subsequently revealed that the title will be The Last Vow.

Mark Gatiss will be appearing in Season 4 of Game of Thrones. If this sort of combines Sherlock and Game of Thrones, how about combining two other genre franchises? What if Ned Stark and Tony Stark were brothers?

There were reports that the cast of  The Big Bang Theory wouldn’t be present at SDCC due to other commitments but Johnny Galecki made a surprise appearance, posing as a fan in costume waiting to ask a question and Melissa Rauch hosted the panel. Steven Hawking had the recorded message above.

The Hannibal DVD and Blu-ray will be released September 24 (same day as the pilot of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs), including  a gag real (video above)  and an unaired episode. No specific news on the unaired episode, but I want to see it. Screen Rant has this news from the panel:

HitFix kept a comprehensive live blog of last night’s Hannibal panel at SDCC, which featured show creator Bryan Fuller, director David Slade, producer Martha De Laurentiis and stars Hugh Dancy and Aaron Abrams. The team were pretty brave going up against an audience of fans after the rage-inducing season finale that left poor Will Graham behind bars, Hannibal Lecter smiling at him from the other side, and a whole lot of people throwing objects at their televisions. If you think that Bryan Fuller was enjoying Will’s pain, you’re absolutely right:

“Will knows something no one else knows, and it’s a great place to put a character. One of the things I was most excited about in Season 2 was seeing Will Graham hit rock bottom.”

Given the fact that Will spent most of season one hallucinating, perspiring, or doing both simultaneously, it will be interesting to see what happens when he really hits rock bottom. Apparently he will be “scrappy” and “feisty,” though, so that’s definitely something to look forward to. Season two will begin with a two-parter that will serve as “a new pilot for what the season can be” now that the old dynamics are gone and Will is in jail, and the third episode, according to Fuller, “will be a trial.” That sounds ominous.

Video of the full Hannibal panel follows:

The Dexter cast made their final appearance before the show ends and, not surprisingly, there were no hints as to how the show ends.

Walking Dead stars on a bigger season.

The Federal Express truck pulled up with my copy of the Blu-ray of the first season on Orphan Black. I haven’t seen any of it, but the reviews I’ve read this week have sounded fantastic. I’m avoiding the details to limit spoilers, but here’s a report on news of the second season of the show. More here and here. Video of the panel above. (I’ll come back and watch after I finish the first season).

Report on the DC Comics Panel here.

DC has its greatest success in movie adaptations with Superman and Batman. It will be necessary to reboot Batman once again for him to appear in the Justice League of America and in further solo films. It now appears that Batman might return in a joint movie with Superman. As for the last reboot of Batman, a panel even considered the question of whether Bruce Wayne was crazy for dating Catwoman. The Flash is the next DC character to get a solo film.

The Marvel universe is divided in the movies, with Sony holding the screen rights to Spider-Man. Information on plans for this series here and here.

Sneak peak at the Veronica Mars movie above. Those of us who donated through Kickstarter to make this movie possible are acknowledged in the clip. More on the movie here.

In Memoriam–Those who died on Game of Thrones.

Update: More Comic Con news posted here.

SciFi Weekly: Doctor Who; SHIELD; JK Rowling Exposed as Mystery Writer; Star Trek3; Summer Glau; Kristen Bell; The Newsroom

A prom apparently has a different meaning in the U.K. than in the United States. There were rumors that the identity of the next Doctor would be revealed at a prom this weekend. That didn’t occur, but there was an appearance by Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman in the video above.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed Steven Moffat. Following are some of the more interesting/news worthy answers:

Are you hoping the new Doctor will appear in this year’s Christmas special?
Yes. That’s not the hope — that’s the plan. It’ll be the traditional regeneration. You know, the eleventh will fall and the twelfth shall rise. And you’ll see that in the closing moments of the show. I mean, you sometimes sit and think, “Are there better ways of doing it? Is there a different way of doing it?” But quite honestly what could be better than that? It’s just too exciting. [Laughs]

Am I right in thinking that the new series—the first post-Matt shows—will be broadcast in late summer 2014?
I think that’s probably right. But these things change so often.

What can you tell us about this November’s Doctor Who 50th anniversary show?
[Laughs] Oh, well, very, very little. It will feature of course Matt and Jenna Coleman, but in addition there’ll be Billie Piper and David Tennant and John Hurt. But we’ve been really quite careful. We have a philosophy that anything we shot outside we had to own up to but the rest of it…You’re just going to have to wait until November to find out about.

What is the format of the 50th anniversary special? Is it movie-length?
It’s a special episode. I think you could call it movie-length, yeah. I mean, I’m saying that with a slight hint of vagueness because I don’t know the finished running time. [Laughs] It’s certainly well over an hour.

How much longer do you yourself intend to stay with the show?
I think a year at a time. I’ve signed up for this next year, with the new Doctor. It’s one of those jobs when you know when you’ve had enough. At the moment I haven’t had enough and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’m very excited for the challenge of the new Doctor and establishing that new Doctor. So, no plans to leave as yet. But that doesn’t mean I’ll be here for 20 years. There will come that day when I think it’s time someone else had a go and it’s time I did something else.

You’re also the executive producer of Sherlock. Have you finished shooting the new series yet?
Oh, I wish! We’ve done two. But we’ve now got a small gap — a small gap? A large gap! — while Martin (Freeman) goes back to New Zealand to film a bit more of the Hobbit and then he’ll return to us. Hopefully, by that time, I’ll actually have finished the Sherlock script I’m writing and we’ll make another one.

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Entertainment Weekly has picked up some news on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in preparation for their Comic-Con panel. Here are a couple of the top items:

1. The pilot hints at how mild-mannered kick-ass bureaucrat Agent Coulson (Clarke Gregg) was resurrected  to lead the team after being killed off in The Avengers (his S.H.I.E.L.D. colleagues say he must “never know the truth” about his death). Yet you’ll have to keep watching to learn the full story. “We can’t wait to pull the curtain back on that,” says co-creator Jed Whedon. “[But] we’re going to take our time.”

2. The S.H.I.E.L.D. story will work in tandem with the Marvel films, both past and upcoming. In fact, the first episode will pick up a storyline that’s familiar from one of the Marvel hits — and it’s not The Avengers. “We plan on trying to weave in between the films and try to make them more rewarding on both ends,” says Jed Whedon, who points out the trick is to make the audience not ask a certain fanboy-bar-fight-style question: “In any of these [episodes], you can always ask: ‘Why don’t they just call Iron Man?’” Yeah, that would be annoying! So our next question is: Why don’t they just call Iron Man? “They are aware of each other,” Whedon says of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team and the metal-suited Malibu playboy, “but they do have to have their own lives.”

Cuckoo Calling

J.K. Rowling had a detective novel published under the name of Robert Galbraith earlier this year, with her identity leaking out this week. io9 has a rundown of reviews of the novel, which sound quite favorable. Conveniently, the book is scheduled for paperback release later this month.

Zachary Quinto has this speculation regarding the next Star Trek movie:  “Star Trek 3 should be filming, I suppose, next year. It’s going to be made a lot quicker than the last one. That’s the plan, although nothing is confirmed yet.” That would make it difficult for J.J. Abrams to direct as he will be busy with Star Wars. Presumably they will want to release the next movie for the 50th Anniversary in 2016.

With J.J. Abrams directing movies for both franchises, and with the recent Star Trek movies in many ways being more Star Wars than classic Star Trek, the old Star Wars vs. Star Trek fan wars seem to have died out. George Lucas provides more reason for peace between the two:

The documentary “Trek Nation” chronicles Rod Roddenberry’s personal journey to explore the importance of the legendary sci-fi franchise dreamed up by his father Gene.

The film comes to DVD on Tuesday, and among the bonus materials included in the release is an interview with “Star Wars” creator George Lucas talking about the important role “Star Trek” played in paving the way for his own space opera.

“‘Star Trek’ softened up the entertainment arena so that ‘Star Wars’ could come along and stand on its shoulders,” Lucas said in an interview.

While Star Trek worked far better as a weekly show than as movies, it also must be kept in mind that Star Trek probably would have never been released as a movie, reviving the franchise, if not for the success of Star Wars.

Summer Glau

Summer Glau has been cast for a recurring role on Arrow:

Glau, who has amassed plenty of genre street cred in TV series like Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Dollhouse, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and most recently as a recurring on Syfy’s Alphas, is set to play the dangerous Isabel Rochev, Vice President of Acquisitions of Stellmoor International, a company looking to take over Queen Consolidated.

Entertainment Weekly reports that Kristen Bell (currently busy filming the Veronica Mars movie) will have a guest appearance on Parks and Recreations next season, in an episode to air in early October:

After shooting the Veronica Mars movie, Kristen Bell will guest-star in an episode of NBC’s Parks and Recreation as Ingrid, a snooty City Councilwoman from Eagleton. “She’s Leslie’s equivalent, but richer and better dressed,” executive producer Michael Schur tells EW. The two will first meet up at the annual Pawnee-Eagleton high school basketball game. Bell and Parks actor Adam Scott previously worked together on Party Down and Veronica Mars, and she currently stars with frequent Parks guest Ben Schwartz on House of Lies.

A lot happened in last week’s True Blood–the type of changes and revelations we might not have expected until towards the end of past seasons. The show certainly has its flaws, and I almost gave up on it a few times, but enough is happening this season to keep my interest.

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The Newsroom returns for a second season tonight. Oliva Munn discussed preparation for her role on The Newsroom with Vanity Fair:

“I write a lot of notes in my scripts,” she explains. “It’s important for me to have them there as a reference so I can keep on track for what I’m wanting to convey. Sometimes, no matter how much I prepare, I can let my emotions of the day affect my choices in a scene, so I like to have my notes with me to remind myself of what track I should be on. And with scripts as complicated and rich as Sorkin’s, it’s vital for me. My notes become my sheet music.”’

Netflix is quickly establishing itself as a service worth subscribing to for its original content now that there are multiple choices for on-demand movies. Orange Is The New Black premiered this week and is up to premium cable standards, and they are negotiating for a second season of Arrested Development. Besides their original series, Netflix recently released the excellent BBC2 series The Fall before it completed its run in the UK.

SciFi Weekend: Star Wars at Disney World; Lost Doctor Who Stories; Game of Thrones; Obama Cut From One Genre Show And Influenced Another; Emma Watson; Mad Men; True Blood; Dexter; Hannibal; Man of Steel

star-wars-theme-park

Disney makes it profits by using each of its holdings to promote its business. The theme parks promote the television shows, movies, and merchandise and vice versa. Disney has long  had an arrangement with Lucasfilms  with Star Tours at the Walt Disney Studios at Walt Disney World. Now that Disney owns the rights to the upcoming Star Wars movies, it is likely that there will be even more promotion in the parks. The latest rumors are of the addition of a Star Wars Land:

The logical places for that expansion would be on either side of the existing Star Tours ride. From what I’ve heard, it appears that the expansion would take out the area between Star Tours and the auto stunt show stadium, including the Muppet theater and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area. But I’ve also heard of consideration of going in the opposite direction, which would place the new land on the site of the Backlot Express restaurant and Indiana Jones stunt show theater. Given that the Indy theater’s used for several other events throughout the year, and that both the Muppets and Honey I Shrunk the Kids attractions long ago passed the height of their popularity, I’m hearing more forceful arguments for the first option.

This appears to be a five-year project, putting completion in 2018, though Disney could choose to throw money at it and accelerate it by a year.

I wonder if they will really disrupt much of what is already there as opposed to mixing more Star Wars throughout the park. It is common for Disney to mix up different things from different movies throughout their parks. Will they really get rid of Muppet Vision 3D and the Honey I Shrunk the Kids park? While perhaps not as major as The Great Movie Ride or Tower of Terror, I’ve always seen Muppet Vision 3D as one of the icons of the park. Besides, Disney still has plans for those Muppets, such as a live stage show. We are long past the prime for the movie version of Honey I Shrunk the Kids and I could see them remove this exhibit, but it is the best item at the Walt Disney Studios Park for small children.

A Star Wars Cantina would probably be the major addition, but this could be added at various places if there is not room near Star Tours. Increased character involvement in parades and character meets would not require removal of older attractions.  Increased use of Star Wars might not even be limited to Disney Studios.  I wouldn’t put it past Disney to create an exhibit at Animal Kingdom with creatures from the Star Wars Universe or turn Spaceship Earth at Epcot into a replica of the Death Star in time for the release of Star Wars VII. There’s little doubt that the monorail will be used to promote the movies.

In case you are wondering why characters from the Marvel movies are not flooding the Disney theme parks, Universal still owns the theme park rights to these characters. In addition, the movie rights to some Marvel comic characters, such as Spiderman, are owned by other studios. Of course we sort of got to see Iron Man at Epcot in Iron Man 2. The Stark Expo was clearly built in the image of Epcot and the film of Tony’s father looked considerably like old footage of Walt Disney discussing his idea for Epcot.

Joss Whedon isn’t “going Nolan” with Avengers 2.

Bleeding Cool reports on rumors of more lost Doctor Who stories which have been found–an added surprise for the 50th anniversary. This might include the lost first regeneration story. (Update: This may be a hoax. Awaiting further information).

Den of Geek gives a round up of this week Matt Smith replacement rumors.

Jaime Graphic

Now that Game of Thrones has concluded its third season, here are some amusing info-graphics to help explain what is going on. One example above.

Here’s an update to the relationship chart from Person of Interest. While I was initially fearful the show would just use the Machine as a gimmick for a crime of the week show, they have certainly developed a complicated mythology over time.

UNDER THE DOME

An adaptation of Steven King’s novel, Under the Dome, sounds like it might be the biggest genre television show of the summer. Barack Obama was initially heard on the first episode but the scene was cut. They had used a clip from Obama’s speech following Hurricane Sandy but decided against using real life events:

President Obama has been left on the cutting room floor of CBS’ new summer series “Under the Dome.”

An audio clip of the president that was in the first hour of the series that CBS sent to critics earlier this month will be cut from the episode that will ultimately air, a CBS spokesman said. The show, based on a Stephen King book, is about a small town that for mysterious reasons becomes enclosed under a huge transparent dome.

In the scene, which comes at the end of the first hour, Obama is heard amid a slew of fake reports talking about what is going in the town. The audio of the president is actually from his remarks following Hurricane Sandy when he said the nation feels “profoundly for all the families whose lives have been upended. The most important message I have for them is that America is with you. We are standing behind you and we are going to do everything we can…”

Although the standards and practices department at CBS had approved the use, a decision was made to cut it anyway on Thursday. While use of audio from actual news events for a fictional TV show is not unusual, the network and producer Amblin Television decided that having these remarks from a real tragedy inserted in an entertainment show was inappropriate.

Emma Watson at the premiere of The Bling Ring in Los Angeles

 Emma Watson returns to fantasy movies, and Barack Obama’s name comes up once again:

Harry Potter star Emma Watson is returning to fantasy cinema after signing on to play the lead in “Game of Thrones-style” saga Queen of the Tearling, reports Variety.

Watson will play 19-year-old idealistic princess Kelsea Glynn, created by Erika Johansen after the author heard a 2007 speech by a pre-presidential Barack Obama. Johansen signed a seven-book deal in February and the first novel in the series is due next year. It is set three centuries after an environmental catastrophe, when a malevolent Red Queen reigns over the kingdom of the Tearling. Glynn must defeat the monarch to reclaim her deceased mother’s crown, and publishers have compared the tone of the series with that of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga, which is being adapted by US network HBO as Game of Thrones.

Despite the comparisons between Megan Draper and Sharon Tate, Matthew Weiner says that Megan will not die this season. After last week’s episode, the question has now become whether/when Megan will find out what Sally saw and how she will react.

True Blood returns tonight with a new show runner. This might be better because the show really needed a change in direction. On the other hand, we might wind up with the same show but with a show runner who isn’t as good as Alan Ball and have an even worse show.

Dexter returns June 30 and we meet the woman who helped Harry develop The Code. Will bringing in someone who could figure out what Dexter has been up to lead to his end?

Just one more episode to go this season on Hannibal. Lase week we saw how a comb could be turned into a murder weapon, and the murder of another recurring character looks likely. For those who haven’t been watching from the start, it was a very good show for binge watching and highly recommended.

Da Vinci’s Demons is less compelling but I have now made it through the second from last episode and will try to catch the finale this week. I might give up on Defiance after four episodes. Even though SyFy had hoped this would be the next big thing after Battlestar Galactica,  there is little in the show so far to promote any long term interest in what happens to the new town. Moving beyond genre, I just finished the first season of Mr. Selfridge from ITV, also broadcast by PBS on Masterpiece Classic. It is more soap opera than serious historical fiction and fans of Downton Abbey should enjoy it. The show was light and entertaining to watch, and did an excellent job of utilizing plot threads from throughout the season to set up its finale.

I couldn’t make it to Man of Steel this weekend and will limit coverage to this link on the movie (which also gets back to Chris Nolan’s Batman, as in one of the links above).

Have a Happy Captain Picard Day

SciFi Weekend: Revolution Finale; Doctor Who; Star Wars; SHIELD; Once Upon A Time; Hannibal; The Fall; Game of Thrones

Zak-Orth-and-Elizabeth-Mitchell-in-Revolution-The-Dark-Tower

Revolution concluded its first season with what was essentially a two-part finale. They reached the Tower and found multiple excuses for changes in alliances and lots of fights. There were far too many implausible aspects to the story to discuss, including a drainage system several levels underground which leads to the outside and a door which was built to stand up to nuclear attack but which was easily penetrated when in door fights were on the filming schedule.

Aaron, the Google Guy, turns out to have written the operating system for the Tower as a student and it was sold to the Department of Defense, making it easy to turn the world’s electricity back on near the end. Remarkably the lights in buildings around the world are still on and waiting, with all wiring still intact. The president of the Georgia Republic calls on her staff to get their tanks and helicopters ready now that they have power. Was she collecting them in the years with no power anticipating such a moment?

Nora was killed off to make room for a Rachel/Myles romance with a triangle too complicated a concept for this show. Sawyer might also reunite with Juliet. I’m not sure how Grace fits into this, being with those guarding the Tower after having been captured.

Randal apparently has been planning for this moment all along, even though he never gave any indication of wanting to get to the Tower until Monroe found out about it. As he was surprised that the security system didn’t allow him in, it isn’t clear why he didn’t just go there earlier on his own or with allies (considering how many back doors there appear to be). He then revealed a rather drastic plan of launching ICBM’s towards Philadelphia and Atlanta and then shooting himself. He says he is a patriot and you can’t have a house divided against itself. Apparently only these two areas are considered a threat to the old United States government which is in hiding at Gitmo and now planning to return.

Presumably having the guy who wrote the operating system will allow them to take control and prevent the ICBM’s from hitting their targets. Perhaps this will cause the electricity to go off again. Or maybe they will even allow for Philadelphia and/or Atlanta to get destroyed and center the story in other parts of the country. While it is a plus that the story keeps advancing, one problem with the show is that nothing really seems to matter. We have a setting with the United States destroyed. Add a city or two which are bombed, or have the electricity on or off. The show just is not well written enough to really make me care about these outcomes (but does have me curious enough to keep watching despite all the faults in the show).

Queen TARDIS

If you read the speculation and rumors on line it seems like everyone except Steven Moffat and Jenna-Louise Coleman know which actor (or actress) will play the Doctor when Matt Smith leaves. Supposedly Wil Wheaton knows. Today The Telegraph claims the part was offered to Rory Kinnear, who denies any knowledge of this.

Jenna-Louise Coleman  got to meet the Queen and discuss time travel with her.

Before Guardians of the Galaxy (and after Doctor Who), Karen Gillan is staring in the romantic comedy Not Another Happy Ending. Trailer above.

J.J. Abrams discussed plans for Star Wars Episode VII:

Abrams spoke in only general terms about how he’ll approach the latest “Star Wars” and would not comment when Hudlin pressed him on whether the film will be derived from any of the “Star Wars” novels.

“It is so massive and so important to people,” he said. “I think the key to moving forward on something like this is honoring but not revering what came before.”

Star Wars fans might be wary after how Abrams handled Star Trek. Destroying Vulcan did not revere what came before, and I don’t think it was honoring it either. At least Abrams couldn’t possibly do as much harm to the franchise as Lucas did with the three prequel movies.  Time will tell whether more Star Wars is a good thing, but sometimes it is best to stick with a classic as opposed to trying to turn one into a series of less successful movies. It is possible that Star Wars might wind up the best if left as a classic trilogy.

New promo for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. above. Samuel L. Jackson has expressed interest in guest staring. It would be a good way to enhance continuity between the show and the Marvel movies. More about the Whedon universe from an  interview with Joss here. Cast interviews here.

Once Upon A Time’s audience is probably not primarily hard core genre fans, but with so many genre shows being canceled or ending their run it is now one of the most successful currently on network television. Here’s some news on how season three begins.

At times I think Hannibal is plotting to destroy Will, seeing him as a threat, but this week it looks like he wants Will for a friend. I also think that having Hannibal for a friend can turn out to be quite dangerous.

One of the many reasons to watch Hannibal is that Gillian Anderson appears on the show as Hannibal’s psychiatrist. It is a minor role which won’t completely satisfy Scully fans, but more of Gillian Anderson can be seen in The Fall. After hearing favorable things about this BBC 2 show I decided to watch this weekend and was pleasantly surprised to find that Netflix has the entire series even though the finale has not yet aired in the U.K. The series trailer is above.

The show involves a serial killer, whose identity is revealed from the start, with Gillian Anderson’s character brought in to handle the case. The concept certainly isn’t anything new, but it is handled very well. In a review after the third episode, The Telegraph calls this the sexiest show on TV:

It’s taken a while but, at last, British TV cop drama has caught up with The Killing. As DS Stella Gibson in The Fall (BBC Two), Gillian Anderson gives us our own incarnation of Denmark’s Sarah Lund: cold, distant, brilliant, flawed but, above all, crackling with sex.

In fact, The Fall is the sexiest show on TV at the moment, which isn’t what you’d expect from BBC Two on a Monday. It’s also the most contrary: we’ve known from the outset, two weeks ago, that Paul Spector (played by Jamie Dornan) is the killer. This is a whydunit, and a canhegetawaywithit, not a whodunit.

Unless British television is devoid of sexy situations I doubt this is really the sexiest show on television. It does go further than American network television can, and at least this characterization demonstrates that it isn’t just a dull police procedural. I am happy they already announced renewal for a second season as they leave a lot of things hanging in the finale (which airs tomorrow on BBC 2 and is already up on Netflix). The season ends with a change in the interplay between Gillian Anderson’s character and the serial killer, but things are far from resolved. After Doctor Who and Sherlock, this is now the British show I’m most anxiously waiting for the next season of. (Even more so than Utopia)

Continuum has been renewed for a third season.

Last week’s Game of Thrones was quite a shock for those of us who have not read the books. George R.R. Martin discussed the historical roots of the Red Wedding here. More at Entertainment Weekly.

 

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Merlin; Iron Man 3; Avengers; SHIELD; True Blood; Gillian Anderson; Person of Interest; The Americans; Firefly

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The Crimson Horror is perhaps the sweetest episode of Doctor Who ever, and starts out without the Doctor. The episode provides a vehicle for two sets of characters: 1) Jenny, Vastra & Strax and 2) characters played by Diana Rigg and her real-life daughter Rachael Stirling. This is the first time that the mother-daughter combination have ever worked together. Bringing back Jenny, Vastra, and Strax also helps with the continuity of the season. Jenny even had a scene which reminded me of Diana Rigg’s old  character Emma Peal from The Avengers, combining the two sets. Victorian England episodes tend to have the most realistic look of episodes taking place in different places or times. Undoubtedly appropriate sets and costumes are easiest to obtain.

The Doctor, and even later Clara, don’t become involved until later, but their absence in the early portions of the episode is handled well. There was a far better payoff to find that the Doctor was the monster when we did not see what happened to him until later. We were brought up to date by a sepia-toned sequence which gives the information viewers need without taking  time to provide excess detail.  Going through the earlier aspects of the Doctor’s involvement in a condensed manner was also helpful because Mark Gatiss had so much going on this episode that he already had to wrap it up too quickly. This would have worked better as a Sherlock-length story.

Being Doctor Who, there are invariably some things which seem unbelievable even if we believe in the Time Lords and the rest of the mythology surrounding the Doctor. It is hard to believe that a rocket of this type could have been built back in that era. The kid, Thomas, who sounded like my phone’s GPS raising further questions. I suspect this one might be cleared up in the season finale when we return to the Doctor’s friends. (As I also went to see Iron Man 3 Saturday night after watching Doctor Who, it was a big night for kids getting into the action.)

The reference to past Doctors was more subtle this week. When the Doctor wound up in Yorkshire instead of London he mentioned his past difficulties in making it to the right place, including problems getting an  Australian to Heathrow, referring to the fifth Doctor and Tegan. I suspect that I missed the meaning of some of the references to Yorkshire versus London which would mean more to those living in the U.K.

When Clara returned home, the kids she cares for had found old pictures of her, demonstrating her travels in time. It is highly unlikely for either these pictures to exist and for the kids to realize they are of Clara (as opposed to someone who might look like her) but this was probably done for two reasons. First Clara was surprised by seeing a picture of her from London where this Clara has not been. Secondly this was probably done to lead into next week’s episode, Nightmare in Silver, which includes the kids. I wouldn’t be all that upset if the kids wind up being assimilated by the Cybermen (who have been looking increasingly like the Borg). Nightmare in Silver will reportedly also include stock footage of William Hartnell and Jon Pertwee.

Quote of the episode: “I’m the Doctor, you’re nuts, and I’m going to stop you.”

The Behind the Scenes video is above

Jenny, Vastra & Strax will be returning in the season finale, The Name Of The Doctor. The episode will also include River Song, post-library. Here’s the official synopsis:

“Every journey taken by a time-traveller tears a wound in the fabric of reality, and the Doctor has time-travelled more than anyone. But the trail runs cold in Trenzalore, the one place in all of time and space that he should never go. The most dangerous place in the universe…

This quote from the episode was also released:

“The path I carved through time and space, from Gallifrey to Trenzalore. My own personal time tunnel, leading back to every moment I ever lived. Every step, every tear, every kiss. Even the days I haven’t lived yet. Which is why I shouldn’t be here. The paradoxes… very bad…”

Trenzalore has been linked with the fall of the eleventh and thought to mean the time when the eleventh Doctor regenerates. If we are to see the fall of the eleventh it must mean something different. Moffat says someone will die in the episode. As they are only seen occasionally, they could easily kill off one of the three Victorian detectives. As this is a p0st-library River, she can also die. Considering that the Doctor and River meet in a mixed up order, this wouldn’t prevent the Doctor from running into River in the future, at an earlier point in her time line.

David Tennant will be the only former Doctor on the 50th Anniversary episode but there will be an  homage to the very first episode of the series, An Unearthly Child.

The Guardian has an interview with Steven Moffat here.

One of the more implausible scenes in The Angels Take Manhattan was having the Statue of Liberty, as a Weeping Angel, travel across Manhattan. Among the many problems raised by this scene is the question of how the Statue of Liberty could make it very far since Angels freeze if anyone is watching. Most fans probably just let this pass as a good scene regardless of whether plausible. Steven Moffat has now provided an explanation (but I’m not sure this is any more plausible):

“The Angels can do so many things. They can bend time, climb inside your mind, hide in pictures, steal your voice, mess with your perception, leak stone from your eye… New York in 1938 was a nest of Angels and the people barely more than farm animals. The abattoir of the lonely assassins!

“In those terrible days, in that conquered city, you saw and understood only what the Angels allowed, so Liberty could move and  hunt as it wished, in the blink of an eye, unseen by the lowly creatures upon which it preyed. Also, it tiptoed.”

I’ll go with “it tiptoed.”

It has been ages since I finished watching Merlin by downloading episodes, but they have just resumed broadcasting the final episodes in the United States. While much of the final season was weaker than earlier seasons, the final few episodes did provide an excellent finale for the series. There has been talk of a movie version of MerlinColin Morgan is moving on to other projects and isn’t interested in playing Merlin again.

As Iron Man 3 breaks box office records, there is lots of attention on the future of the Marvel movie universe. There are conflicting reports as to whether there will be an Iron Man 4. I don’t think I am spoiling anything by saying that Iron Man 3 could easily serve as a conclusion of a trilogy, or the lead in for the probable future movies.   Robert Downey, Jr. has even left open the possibility of appearing in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and will most likely return to The Avengers 2. The next Avengers movie reportedly will add Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. These reports must be taken cautiously as there is the possibility of characters winding up on the cutting room floor at this stage.

Above is the trailer for True Blood Season 6 which returns on June 16. Humans are fighting back, which provides for a change from previous seasons. I hope that this, plus a new show runner, solves some of the problems plaguing recent seasons.

Gillian Anderson of The X-Files is appearing in a five part thriller for the BBC 2 entitled The Fall. A review can be found here.

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I’ve been undecided as to whether to consider Person of Interest true science fiction or a mystery series with a science fiction element. The two-part season finale, which we are in the middle of, moves the series much further towards science fiction as the machine takes on a more active role beyond spitting out the numbers. Plus there’s the return of Amy Acker.

The Americans ended the season well. I’m glad they avoided a true cliff hanger. As we can assume Elizabeth will recover from her injuries, the finale leads us back pretty close to how the series began. Besides the danger of being exposed by their FBI agent neighbor, their daughter Paige is becoming suspicious. After having viewers root for having Claudia reassigned, I bet most changed their mind during the finale. Margo Martindale has been cast in a comedy pilot so the episode leaves open the options of her leaving or Philip and Elizabeth plausibly requesting that the decision be reversed. Show runners Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg discussed the finale with Salon.

With Netflix bringing back Arrested Development, there has been hope that they might bring back some genre shows such as Firefly which didn’t survive more conventional television runs.   Netflix chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, gave this reason for not remaking Firefly:

“Let me give you one broad statement about these recovery shows. In almost every case the cult around the show gets more intense and smaller as time goes by. Arrested Development was the rarest of birds in that the audience of the show grew larger than the original broadcast audience because people came to discover it years after it was canceled. The Firefly fan is still the Firefly fan from when it was on TV and there’s fewer of them and they’re more passionate every year. Whereas with Arrested Development we’re going to be serving a multiple of the original audience. Any of the other shows we could bring back would be a fraction of the original audience.”A

Arrested Development probably would have more viewers than Firefly, but I don’t buy his explanation. I think that many others interested in this are more like me. I didn’t watch Firefly when it was on, but did buy the CD’s due to all the buzz after it was off the air.  I’m not super-passionate about the show, but I did enjoy it and if Firefly came back I would watch. I bet many other people have become fans after the initial run ended, providing for a larger audience in a remake than was present when on the air. Besides, Joss Whedon is now one of the hottest (perhaps the hottest) names in entertainment right now. I don’t think anything with his name attached should be ignored.

Other possibilities I’d suggest would be The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which ended at a point which begs for a conclusion, and Jericho which has some similarities to Revolution but did it much better.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; S.H.I.E.L.D.; Defiance; Continuum; Community; Dexter; Once Upon A Time; Zooey Deschanel, Terrorist; And A Warning From The Future

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Hide looked like a ghost story, but this week’s episode of Doctor Who was actually a love story involving two couples (or maybe a third). The young assistant Emma was the real reason for Doctor showing up where he did, to see if the clairvoyant Emma could detect anything unusual about Clara, “the only mystery worth solving.” While nothing unusual was revealed about Clara, Emma did warn Clara about the Doctor’s icy heart. I suspect this will play a part in whatever is revealed in the season finale.

The episode picked up on the theme of the TARDIS not yet accepting Clara, but by the end they worked out their differences and went on to save the Doctor. Last week in Cold War it was necessary to contrive a way to get rid of the TARDIS to avoid a simple solution to being trapped in the submarine. This week did something which few too many episodes do–use time travel as part of a story. This did wind up leaving one time traveler just hanging around, possibly a loose end to come up in  a future episode. It also showed Clara the full meaning of time travel and the Doctor:

Clara: “To you I haven’t been born yet, and to you I’ve been dead a hundred billion years. Is my body out there somewhere, in the ground?”

The Doctor: “Yes, I suppose it is.”

Clara: “But here we are, talking, so I am a ghost. To you, I’m a ghost. We’re all ghosts to you. We must be nothing.”

The behind the scenes video is above.

This was actually the first episode filmed with the modern Clara Oswald, written by Neil Cross, who subsequently wrote The Rings of  Akhaten. Cross did better with his first attempt in Hide.  Like previous episodes since Doctor Who returned, there is an homage to a previous Doctor. This time it is John Pertwee’s Doctor, from a scientist with assistant (or is it companion?) using 1970’s oscilloscopes to the need for a blue crystal from Metebelis III. Will next week’s Journey To The Center Of The TARDIS include references to Tom Baker? I suddenly feel like some Jelly Bellies.

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Hide played with Doctor What while Steven Moffat has made the question Doctor Who? a recurring theme.  The official synopsis for The Name of the Doctor, the final episode of the season is “Someone is kidnapping the Doctor’s friends, leading him towards the one place in all of time and space that he should never go.” Moffat says we really will learn something we haven’t known about the Doctor, telling Radio Times: “There’s going to be a revelation. I’m not teasing. I’m not wrong-footing you – you’re about to learn something about the Doctor that you never knew before. And I think you’re in for a shock.”

River Song, who proved her relationship to the Doctor by being the only person to know his name in Forest of the Dead, will be returning in this episode. The Wedding of River Song included this warning:

“The Fields of Trenzalore, the fall of the eleventh and the question. The first question, the question that must never be answered hidden in plain sight, the question you’ve been running from all your life. Doctor who? Doctor who? DOCTOR WHO?”

The fall of the eleventh has been interpreted as meaning the time of his regeneration, but it might mean something different if the Doctor’s name really s revealed, or this might not be the secret which is revealed. Even if his name is revealed, there would have to be more to the secret for it to be meaningful. Finding that his name is the Gallifreyan equivalent of John Smith would not mean very much. Perhaps the Grammar Daleks have been correct and  his real name is Doctor Whom.

There is yet another possible clue to a secret in this rumor about the 50th Anniversary episode:

…there are several sites claiming that two very reliable sources have independently revealed that John Hurt will be playing the real 9th Doctor :O Basically Eccleston, Tennant and Smith’s Doctor have either forgotten or have repressed Hurt’s incarnation for some unknown reason, and it is very possible that the secret due to be revealed in the season finale next month is that Smith is the 12th Doctor rather than what his real name is.

I suspect that if this is the case John Hurt’s character might not really be the Doctor, similar to the misdirection in The Next Doctor. The order of the Doctors has become ingrained too much to disturb this chronology. If Matt Smith’s Doctor really is the twelfth, it might give Moffat an opportunity to answer the question of the number of regenerations. Originally Time Lords had thirteen but obviously they will not end the show when this limit comes. There was a throw away line when David Tennant was in an episode of Sarah Jane Adventures claiming 507 but the line wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. They already have had two events in the new episodes which could alter the original limit. As the Time Lords have been overthrown, nobody knows if the old rules apply. There is also the possibility that the Doctor obtained additional regenerations when River Song gave up her future regenerations to save the Doctor’s life in Let’s Kill Hitler There is plenty of precedent for transfer of regenerative powers in Doctor Who, giving Moffat a number of possible routes. Plus, unless the number is extended, where will the Valeyard fit into this–or has the Doctor managed to avoid that fate?

Clark Gregg has a lot of information on S.H.I.E.L.D in the video above. Transcript below via Bleeding Cool:

If you watched The Avengers it was hard to miss the moment where that Asgardian bastard stabbed me quite thoroughly. And I died in The Avengers and it was a sad day because I loved Agent Coulson, and I loved going to the cons and hanging out with the Coulson fans. I was a little heartbroken. The Marvel guys said “You’re dead. You’re dead. But it’s the comics so it’s a different form of dead. Who knows, maybe we’ll see you again some day.”

I thought “You know what, I had a hell of a time playing this guy, I loved the death scene, I loved what Joss did so much,” to want any more of it felt greedy. So when I got a call a couple of months ago to say ‘We want you to come to New York Comic-Con. We’re going to announce that perhaps Coulson lives” I was very curious but also wasn’t sure that I was necessarily down with it.

I didn’t want to do anything to undermine the integrity of The Avengers and Joss didn’t either. So I had a conversation with joss and he explained to me that this [show] takes place after The Avengers, after ‘The Battle of New York’. I’m from New York, I’ve lived in a world after somebody has attacked New York, I know that there’s fall out.

The Avengers version of that world is a world that has superheroes and doorways to other dimensions and chaos. And the way Joss described to me the mystery that takes place in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, and the complexity and the unanswered questions about Phil Coulson standing there trying to deal with this, I found it so fascinating and so true to the world of the comics and mythology in general as I understand them that I was immediately in.

I don’t know you could not change going through what he went through in The Avengers. If he hadn’t gone through some kind of change it wouldn’t be any good. That said, I don’t know if he understands how much he’s changed.

It would be surprising to me if this was a world where there wasn’t some reckoning…the fact that there was some level of deception must have been perpetrated on The Avengers. It must have been.

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Defiance has been billed as the next big thing from Syfy but I was not very impressed. The computer-generated special effects looked fake and I just don’t see the point in computer generated graphics which fail to give a sense of reality to scenes which could not otherwise be filmed. The town of Defiance, which is St. Louis around thirty years after a war which has altered earth, provides a scene which could just as easily be an alien planet or a spaceship which contains civilians. Julie Benz is the mayor (or if this was a spaceship, she fulfills the traditional science fiction role of the Captain). In this case, the future looks like the old west, but is far less fun than Firefly. The backdrop will allow for a wide variety of stories, with stories which felt very familiar filling the two-hour premier. Now that we have the setting down, perhaps the series can move onto more original stories.

Continuum is returning to a second season. Star Rachel Nichols was interviewed here. An excerpt:

What can we expect from the new season?
The second season is very interesting. Obviously the first season was very centered on getting home. I wanted to go home. I would be friends with the baddies, I would partner up with Liber8, whatever it took to get home. It’s obviously still important to me in the new season. However, the theme of Season 2 is responsibility. Kagame had a speech at the end of the last season about how, if you drop a pebble on one side of the world, it will become a tsunami on the other. For Keira that’s very, very important, because she wants to get home to her husband and her son. Very early on in season 2, she starts asking questions: what am I going to be returning home to? Am I costing my husband and son their lives? Will they never be born? Will I never be born because of what I’m doing now? It’s a lot to wrap your head around!

This week’s Community brought up the dark timeline. There was also a lot of nonsense such as the group believing they failed, with the grade changing to a C to an F and back again, and a knot which was not a knot. It is clear that new producers David Guarascio and Moses Port do want to keep this show as offbeat and original as it was under Dan Harmon. They just don’t have the ability to pull it off.

Dexter will be returning for its final season. A sneak peak at part of the first episode is above. The final trajectory for the series is in motion, but a spinoff isn’t ruled out.

Emilie de Ravin of Lost teased tonight’s episode of Once Upon A Time by describing her character (after losing her memory) as “young, scantily-clad chick, Lacey.” Okay, she sold me on watching, even if it is on network television.

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Zooey Deschanel was identified on the closed captioning as the suspect being chased in Boston on Friday by one television station. Needless to say, it was a Fox channel. This is no more ridiculous (and false) than most of the type going by while watching Fox, such as identifying Barack Obama as a socialist from Kenya.

From 2068, above is a documentary on The Internet: A Warning from History. The Internet was one of the greatest disasters to befall mankind…

 

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sherlock; Star Trek Into Darkness; Veronica Mars; Firefly; Batman; Pepper Potts; Gwen Stacy Meets Mary Jane Watson

Doctor Who returns March 30. Trailer above.

Here is an interview with Matt Smith on the Jonathan Ross Show. For those who are just interested in the Doctor Who Clip, here is a clip from The Bells of St. John, which appears to take place shortly after Clara first enters the TARDIS  (which has a new look):

Here is an interview (audio only) with Jenna-Louise Coleman and producer Marcus Wilson:

Executive Producer Caroline Skinner is leaving Doctor Who. Faith Penhale, head of Drama at BBC Wales, will be producing the 50th Anniversary episode. Steven Moffat has gone through three executive producers but rather than dwelling on rumors of conflict, let’s look back at the days when Julie Gardner spent four years working with Russel T. Davies. Above is The Ballad of Russell and Julie. This is a must-see video for Doctor Who fans who have not seen it yet:

They are starting filming on the third season of Sherlock and Benedict Cumberbatch has confirmed that he is willing to return for a fourth season:

“We’ve already agreed to two more series”. Those were the seven words Benedict Cumberbatch uttered today that set a sizeable section of the internet afire. Speaking at this afternoon’s South Bank Show Awards, the Sherlock and Star Trek: Into Darkness actor revealed, “All I know at the moment is that I’m doing these three and another three”.

Cumberbatch recently won a British Press Guild award as Best Actor. Interview with him above.

Alex Kingston is also interested in returning to Doctor Who as River Song:

I’m so attached to that character. I never expected her to grow and develop in the way she has. You never know whether she’s going to be hard-ass or good. As long as Steven Moffat has storylines that include her, I will always say yes.

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Damon Lindelof on Star Trek Into Darkness and the secrecy surrounding the movie:

“If the first movie was about meeting and introductions, this movie is about becoming a family,” Lindelof said. “The title of the movie is not just about the mission that the Enterprise is going on but what happens when you get to know each other a little better and the hurdles you must jump over in order to truly become family.”

“If anything, we’ve become more terrified,” he said. “We kind of got it right the first time, [we thought], ‘Let’s really not screw it up this time.’ You really have to honor the 40-plus years of canon and legacy that this amazing franchise had before we put pen to paper.”

Lindelof said they settled on the villain for the movie and decided very early on to say little about him — apart from the fact that Cumberbatch’s antagonist is named John Harrison.

“The audience needs to have the same experience that the crew is having,” Lindelof explained. “You’re Kirk, you’re Spock, you’re McCoy, so if they don’t know who the bad guy is going to be in the movie, then you shouldn’t know. It’s not just keeping the secret for secrecy’s sake. It’s not giving the audience information that the characters don’t have.”

Game of Thrones returns March 31. Trailer above.

As I posted earlier in the week, I am helping to finance a Veronica Mars movie. Along with over 50,000 other people I have pledged money for a Kickstarter campaign which made its goal the first day. Don’t let that stop you from pledging–the  more money that is pledged the better the movie might be.

The success of this Kickstarter campaign immediately led to speculation that this might be done to finance other genre movies, and Firefly was one of the first to come to mind. Buzzfeed spoke with Joss Whedon:

Buzzfeed talked to Whedon, a long-time Veronica Mars fan, and he admitted that he was thrilled to see the movie project funded, and funded in the way it’s been. “It feels like a real game-changer”, he admitted.

And then the obvious question. Is this something he’d consider to get more Firefly off the ground?

“I’ve said repeatedly that I would love to make another movie with these guys, and that remains the case. It also remains the case that I’m booked up by Marvel for the next three years, and that I haven’t even been able to get Dr Horrible 2 off the ground because of that”.

He added that “I don’t even entertain the notion of entertaining the notion of doing this, and won’t. Couple years from now, when Nathan’s no longer [working on] Castle and I’m no longer the Tom Hagen of the Marvel Universe and making a giant movie, we might look and see where the market is then. But right now, it’s a complete non-Kickstarter for me”.

Whedon suggests that Kickstarter “doesn’t just open the floodgates”, although we’d imagine that a flood of projects will be testing the water very shortly. He clearly still sounds keen to make more Firefly, though, and we’ll keep you posted as we hear more…

Batman in the Movies.

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Pepper Potts is no damsel in distress in Iron Man 3. From Marvel Studies President Kevin Feige:

In this movie [Iron Man 3] we play with the convention of the damsel in distress. We are bored by the damsel in distress. But, sometimes we need our hero to be desperate enough in fighting for something other than just his own life. So, there is fun to be had with ‘Is Pepper in danger or is Pepper the savior?’ over the course of this movie.

In the comic books she does get a taste for the suit and becomes her own hero named Rescue, who doesn’t necessarily battle other people, but is on missions to help people and to save people. Will we do that down the line with Gwyneth Paltrow? Who knows. But her being in the suit is something we have been playing with since ‘Iron Man 2,’ where we did some designs and it didn’t end up fitting in that movie.

Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy) meets Shailene Woodley (Mary Jane Watson). More Amazing Spider-Man 2 set photos available here.

Gwen Meets Mary Jane Spider-Man