BY MATT TUCK
Another marquee name has been added to Thor: Love and Thunder in a mystery role. Meanwhile #RestoreTheSnyderverse is over a million voices strong, but will the trend be enough to sway Time-Warner to produce a Snyder Cut sequel? All this and more in this week’s Frankie’s News Break.
MAXIMUS, MEET THOR
Timing is everything, and, boy, did this bit of news time out perfectly.
Empire Online is reporting that Russell Crowe has been added to an already star-studded cast for Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder.
The two-time Oscar winner was last seen in the superhero realm as Jor-El in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. That film has gained a newfound admiration since the release of the Justice League Snyder Cut on HBO Max. Crowe will join fellow DC-alum, Christian Bale, who will voice and motion-capture the film’s primary antagonist, Gorr the God Butcher.
The real question is, what role will Crowe play? At almost 60 years old, it is unlikely the Australian will exchange blows with Thor, so who will he portray in the MCU? Let the speculation begin.
SPEAKING OF JUSTICE LEAGUE...
It has been over a week since the Snyder Cut hauled in record numbers on HBO Max. The four-hour recut of 2017’s Justice League did so well that it managed to overshadow Disney+’s premiere of its latest MCU series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Even the black-and-white edition of the Snyder Cut is reportedly doing quite well on the streaming platform, and it has prompted a major fan push for a JL sequel and all the other projects Zack Snyder had planned pre-2017.
Even though WB’s Ann Sarnoff has vehemently stated that the JL recut is the end of the line for the Snyderverse, the #RestoreTheSnyderverse has trended with over one million retweets on Twitter and is still going, which broke Endgame’s previous hashtag record.
Despite the fan support, WB is not changing its tune, at least not yet. In apparent retaliation, angry Snyderverse enthusiasts have review-bombed HBO Max’s next streaming release, King Kong vs Godzilla. That’ll show ‘em.
FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER ADDRESSING RACIAL ISSUES AND LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR YOUNG AVENGERS
Of all Marvel’s movies and series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has produced the most social commentary of any of the previous entries. Stepping away from the “theme park experience” and its typical, slapstick-comedy, green screen-heavy formula, FATWS is confronting the racial issues plaguing our country as embodied by Sam Wilson’s struggles on and off the battlefield.
In the second episode, Bucky introduced Sam to Isiah Bradley, an African-American veteran of the Korean War. The bigger picture is that Bradley was part of an effort to replicate the super-soldier serum that created Captain America. What audiences discover is that once Bradley’s wartime efforts were done, he was jailed and treated like a science experiment for 30 years. It has understandably prompted discussion not only about the Super Soldier program, but also how a superhero show can be socially relevant on a human level.
The other part is that it has sparked interest in the first comic appearances of Isiah Bradley, who was rumored to be part of the series from the beginning. More importantly, it has raised questions as to whether or not his grandson in the episode is indeed Patriot, who would go on to lead the Young Avengers in the comics world.
MARVEL’S NEW DISTRIBUTOR
After years of complaining about Diamond Comics Distributors, many shop owners got their wishes granted when Marvel announced a distribution deal with publishing house Penguin Random House Publisher Services.
Until recent months, Diamond had a virtual monopoly on the comic publishing and distribution business with both Marvel and DC Comics having exclusive deals with Diamond. This muddies the waters a bit for Diamond, a company without the best reputation among a growing number of comic shop owners. I have seen many social media posts lambasting Diamond for printing errors and delivery issues. Now, retailers will have the choice of dealing with either Diamond or Penguin/Random House.
WB/DC gave fans a better look at the upcoming The Suicide Squad, and it is looking like another win for the post-Snyder DCEU.
Once again, James Gunn has worked his action/comedy magic, and the trailer is filled with blood, gore, and laughs. It does it so well that The Suicide Squad appears to be DC’s answer to the R-rated and massively-successful Deadpool franchise more so than Gunn’s previous claim to fame, Guardians of the Galaxy.
Don’t forget that there is a new Batman: Arkham-style game on the way starring the Suicide Squad, so look for the comedy troupe to have a bigger presence in the overall DC scope in the next year or two.
Daredevil is about to get some company in the world of disabled MCU superheroes.
Disney+ is reportedly developing a series starring Echo, a deaf superhero of Native American descent. Even though Hawkeye has yet to debut, the word is that Echo will be introduced on that series before starring in her own self-titled spinoff.
The bigger picture in the collecting world is that it adds attention to Daredevil #9 and New Avengers #11. Maya Lopez first appeared as Echo in DD #9 before assuming Clint Barton’s Ronin moniker in NA #11. The live-action news has made both those issues much more valuable now that Echo will be taking a larger role in the MCU.
SOMETHING STRANGE IS AFOOT IN THE MULTIVERSE
Benedict Cumberbatch apparently has a new look for the upcoming Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, and Marvel wants to make it a surprise to fans. In a recent panel appearance via Zoom, Cumberbatch kept the camera away from his face to keep from spoiling the big moment.
What could this mean? The persistent rumor is that the good doctor will have a new costume that is more in line with what we have seen in the comics. In light of Cumberbatch keeping his face off the camera for something as simple as a Zoom panel, it would appear that bit of gossip will get more traction.
PREDATOR #1 RELEASE DATE
The hype machine for Predator began last year, and it will kick into full gear in May with a series of variant comics pitting the Yautja against Marvel’s elite superheroes. Now we know when that Marvel Predator reboot is coming: June 9. That will inevitably affect prices for Predator #1, the interstellar hunter’s first comic appearance from Dark Horse’s 1989 publication, and it should help the initial comic crossover between the Predator and Aliens franchises in Dark Horse Presents #36. So far, the impact on Predator #1 is not as great as what we saw for 1988’s Aliens #1, but that could change if the new comic is a hit.
Although Marvel’s Alien #1 has not exactly wowed audiences (even though I thought Salvador Larroca’s artwork was enough to give it a B by itself), that does not mean the Predator is resigned to the same fate. If the new series becomes a breakout for Marvel, then look for those ‘89 Predator #1s to get an added boost. So far this month, that first Dark Horse issue has been earning upwards of $800, and a sale in the past week netted a record-high $900.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is also a teacher, freelance writer, comic collector, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.