From Thor: Ragnarok to Stranger Things – 10 things we learned from Comic-Con 2017 – The Guardian

Stranger Things season two will ramp up the 80s nostalgia

Poor Will Byers might have been rescued from the dark alternate dimension that is beginning to bleed into the town of Hawkins, Indiana (otherwise known as the Upside Down) in the Netflix smash. But it looks as if his ordeal is not yet over. As our gang of pre-teens take a trip to the local arcade to play Don Bluth’s Dragon’s Lair video game, Will suddenly sees the Upside Down flash into reality, with himself once again inside it. What’s more, a new, larger beast – 10 times the size of the Demogorgon from season one and with at least six limbs – appears to be marauding through the darkened skies.

The fact that this is revealed to the gothic musical strains of Michael Jackson’s Thriller – complete with Vincent Price’s doomy narration from the classic 1983 John Landis video – combined with our heroes dressing up as the Ghostbusters to carry out their paranormal investigations, just makes it all the cooler. Is that an actual ghost trap?

Michelle Pfeiffer will join Ant-Man and The Wasp

Pfeiffer was announced as Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp in the comic books, at Marvel’s panel on 22 July. She will appear in Peyton Reed’s upcoming sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp, as the mother of the new Wasp, Evangeline Lily’s Hope Van Dyne, and ex-partner of the original Ant-Man, Michael Douglas’s Hank Pym.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Ruth Madoff in The Wizard of Lies



Michelle Pfeiffer considers her superhero options. Photograph: Craig Blankenhorn/AP

Fans of the comic books will be aware that the character of Janet Van Dyne is a subject of some controversy in the Marvel world, thanks largely to a 1980s episode in which she was assaulted by Pym during a row. Marvel’s latest version of the size-shifting superhero is, of course, the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang, a role that will be reprised by Paul Rudd in the new film. There has been little hint of Pym’s murky past so far in the comic book’s big-screen transfer, so let’s hope it stays that way.

Could there be The Walking Dead without zombies?

Season eight of the zombie apocalypse show looks as if it will be all about the war between Rick’s followers, backed up by King Ezekel’s heavily armoured clan, and the Saviours, led by everybody’s favourite nonchalant psychopath, Negan. But after roughly four and a half minutes of bloody warfare, it’s the final shot of Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes, apparently a decade older and waking up in a hospital bed, that leaves us with the most questions. Is this some kind of flash-forward to a future without zombies?

Ben Affleck’s reign as the dark knight isn’t over just yet

It hasn’t been the easiest time for Affleck since he signed on to play the dark knight. Pitting the DC Extended Universe’s two biggest beasts against each other in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice turned out to be a really bad way to launch a superhero cinematic universe. And while Affleck impressed as the caped crusader, he found himself battling against both Zack Snyder’s wrongheaded interpretation of Gotham’s shadowy defender and the Watchmen director’s convoluted and clumsy attempts at world-building.

Since then, the negative publicity hasn’t stopped. First, Affleck revealed he was walking away from plans to direct himself in upcoming solo outing The Batman; then his successor, War for the Planet of the Apes’ Matt Reeves, disclosed that he had completely abandoned his predecessor’s script. On 21 July, the Hollywood Reporter suggested studio Warner Bros was primed to go one step further and do its best to “usher out Affleck’s Batman” altogether. But at the panel for DC’s upcoming Justice League, the actor and director confirmed he has no plans to give up the cape.

“Let me be very clear,” said Affleck. “I am the luckiest guy in the world. Batman is the coolest part in any universe, DC or Marvel.” The actor also said he would “be an ape on the ground for Matt Reeves”, whose standing in Hollywood could not be higher in the wake of his triumphant shepherding of the second and third instalments of the current Planet of the Apes trilogy.

The Hulk will find his voice in Thor: Ragnarok

The green machine has been a part of the Marvel cinematic universe for the best part of a decade, but we’ve barely heard him mutter more than the odd word in all that time. Now, following Mark Ruffalo’s hints that the superhero’s personality is beginning to merge with that of Bruce Banner, the new Comic-Con trailer for Thor: Ragnarok showcases a Hulk who’s suddenly capable of entire sentences, as he is in some comic book iterations. While a Hulk solo movie still looks a long way off, this will be a gratifying development for fans of the moody behemoth, and suggests Ragnarok’s cribbing from the classic 2006 graphic novel Planet Hulk isn’t just limited to the inclusion of Sakaar and all those monumental gladiator battles.

Star Trek: Discovery’s new hero is Spock’s sister

You might think Leonard Nimoy’s pointy-eared alien would have mentioned a human sibling at some point during his near half-century stint in the role, but presumably CBS’s new space saga will address the previous absence of Sonequa Martin-Green’s Star Fleet first officer Michael Burnham from official canon at some point during the first season. The Comic-Con panel for the show on 22 July revealed that Burnham, who is female but has deliberately been given a male first name, was adopted by Spock’s Vulcan father Sarek, here played by Gotham and True Blood alumnus James Frain, as a child.

The new trailer reveals Discovery will focus on a looming conflict between the Federation and a resurgent Klingon empire. Burnham is second in command on the USS Shenzhou, whose captain is Michelle Yeoh’s Philippa Georgiou. The 15-episode show takes place a decade before the events of the first Star Trek TV show, and is entirely separate from the reset timeline currently being followed in the big-screen instalments. There is no word yet on whether Spock himself is likely to make an appearance.

In Blade Runner 2049, Rick Deckard’s world has changed beyond recognition

What kind of a movie would the original Blade Runner have been without Rutger Hauer’s staggering final monologue as the dying Roy Batty? It seems we’re about to find out, as the weekend panel for Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 revealed the replicants of mid-21st century LA now have an open-ended lifespan. A new timeline – available to read online here – fills in the gaps between the events of 2019, seen in Ridley Scott’s doom-laden sci-fi classic, and the new episode. We discover that the Tyrell Corporation released a new model of replicant, the Nexus 8, in 2020 to replace the decommissioned Nexus 6s. These were then switched, in 2036, to the supposedly safer Nexus 9s, which also have no limit on their lifespans.

How does this feed into the age-old conundrum over whether Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard is himself a replicant? Well, it certainly suggests that both he and Rachel might easily have been age-unlimited prototypes, though that would not explain why Deckard himself appears to have been subject to a very human ageing process. What it does do is remove from the Blade Runner world the wonderful pathos of the replicants’ short lives, surely a metaphor for the brevity of the human condition. As Edward James Olmos’s Gaff tells Deckard, at the end of the original movie: “It’s too bad she won’t live, but then again who does?” Such symbolism now seems to have been itself lost in time, like tears in rain.

The robots will continue to wreak revenge in Westworld season two

After mass host-on-guest slaughter broke out during the final episode of Westworld’s debut season, you might think the authorities would be called in to shut down the park early in season two. But 22 July’s panel for the show, which doesn’t return until 2018, saw the release of a trailer showing Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores and James Marsden’s Teddy gleefully hunting down their former tormentors – suggesting the robots’ revenge has not yet been fully enacted. There’s also a shot of Jeffrey Wright’s revived Bernard Lowe next to a dead tiger, and a brief scene featuring a blood-spattered Man in Black (Ed Harris). Where the Emmy award-winning show travels to in season two remains shrouded in mystery, but it looks like we’ll be staying in Westworld itself, rather than heading out into wider vistas.

The virtual-reality world of Ready Player One is filled with pop-culture phenomena

William Gibson’s cult 1984 book Neuromancer, widely considered the original cyberpunk novel, presents a vision of cyberspace so alien to our sensibilities – with its heavy use of invented technobabble – that its murky virtual-reality world is almost impenetrable. Not so Steven Spielberg’s upcoming adaptation of Ernest Cline’s sci-fi novel Ready Player One, which offers us a Matrix-like technosphere populated by cheerfully familiar pop-culture stalwarts. The weekend panel for the movie saw the release of a debut trailer, in which gamer Wade Watts battles against and alongside The Iron Giant, an orc from The Lord of the Rings and Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, in a dystopian 2044. All of a sudden, Ed Sheeran turning up in Game of Thrones doesn’t seem nearly so incongruous.

The Defenders have work to do to reignite Netflix’s Marvel shows

The first trailer for The Defenders, which debuted at Marvel TV panel on 21 July, suggests the ensemble superhero show has work to do in order to convince us it’s worth binge-streaming next month, especially after the disappointment of the second half of Luke Cage’s debut season – not to mention the “whitewashed” car crash that was Iron Fist.

Sigourney Weaver plays Alexandra, who appears to be a mouthpiece for evil ninja clan The Hand, which to our memory has been set on taking over New York since at least season two of Daredevil – but apparently hasn’t quite got there yet. The problem with these Netflix shows is the low-level stakes: the baddies never seem to want to hold the entire city in subjugation; they usually just want to profit by controlling local crime rackets, setting them up in opposition to the local superheroes who want to keep the streets clean.

When Marvel began its Netflix experiment, this low-key approach was a welcome relief from the CGI mega-destruction of the big-screen outings, but The Defenders surely needs to up the ante with a more ambitiously evil scheme if it’s to justify bringing all these “street-level” heroes together for an epic showdown.

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