Insights Into Entertainment: Episode 25 “San Diego Comic-Con Special”

In our first event special we take a look at the flood of news that emerged from the 50th annual San Diego Comic Con. Marvel and Disney dominated with the roll out of long awaited details on Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We see how closely tied some of what we’ll be seeing in the cinema will be tied to Disney’s new subscription service Disney+. Then we look at the winners and losers to emerge from the mega-pop culture phenomenon of SDCC. We also steer you in the right directly to find information on things that even this special edition podcast couldn’t cover.

Insights into Entertainment


Show Notes

  • Introductions
    • Insights Into Entertainment: Episode 25 “San Diego Comic Con Special”
    • My beautiful and entertaining co-host Michelle Whalen
  • Marvel Phase 4 Plan Revealed, But Comic-Con’s Big Winner Is Disney Plus
    • But the biggest takeaway from the Saturday presentation inside Hall H was how important Marvel will make Disney Plus, the new digital streaming product and Netflix rival that the Walt Disney Company is launching in November.
    • Marvel’s TV series would share the same worlds of the cinematic universe, it was made abundantly clear by Marvel Studios president that a Disney Plus subscription will be essential for keeping current on the narratives fans will see in theaters.
    • When the sequel “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” hits in May 2021, Benedict Cumberbatch will be joined by his fellow Avenger Elizabeth Olsen, aka Scarlet Witch. But to understand the events that led her to the big screen, you’ll need to watch the Disney Plus original “Wandavision,” coming in the spring of 2020.
    • Likewise, a civilian unfamiliar with the MCU who wants to check out Tom Hiddleston in the Disney Plus original “Loki” will need to rewatch “Avengers: Endgame,” for a blink-and-miss moment that explains Loki’s return after his demise in “Infinity War.”
    • “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” will see Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan face off against “Captain America: Civil War” villain Daniel Bruhl, and Jeremy Renner’s “Hawkeye” looks to be making his standalone series a family affair (his bow-wielding children were referenced often in the final two films of the Infinity Saga).
    • The theatrical slate, on the other hand, is highly experimental. While sequels to “Black Panther,” “Captain Marvel” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” were all confirmed to be in development, the next eight films dated through 2022 have some compelling wildcards.
    • The most curious could arguably be “Eternals,” based on a trippy Jack Kirby comic series about 35,000-year-old alien beings. It’s entirely new intellectual property that takes Marvel back to the drawing board. They’re relying on one of their signature moves to establish that film, in hiring hot young talent and A-list names no film fan could refuse.
    • the cast was revealed, with Salma Hayek in the lead. But it was when Angelina Jolie was announced as the final member of the “Eternals” ensemble that the hall ignited. Fans stood on their feet, and Jolie seemed winded telling the crowd how excited she was to be there. Currently in production, the title is scheduled for a November 2020 release.
    • Equally interesting was director Scott Derrickson’s plan for Doctor Strange. Speaking with Feige on stage, he said he would only return to the franchise if they could explore the darker edges of the sorcerer’s comic narratives — to the point of labelling it the MCU’s first horror film. That’s for May 2021.
    • The most on-brand Marvel offering was also its most culturally significant, with “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” Long brewing as the first ever superhero film to feature an Asian lead, this portion packed additional punch by introducing its just-cast star Simu Liu, and additional casting in Awkwafina and Tony Leung. The character Shang-Chi is known as the master of kung-fu, and will hit in February 2021.
    • Marvel did trot out some familiar faces: Scarlett Johansson is mid-shoot on “Black Widow,” a gritty prequel that some social media users likened to the Bourne series for its brutal, naturalistic violence. Chris Hemsworth will also return for a fourth go at “Thor,” in a sequel titled “Love and Thunder.” That reteams him with director Taika Waititi and costar Tessa Thompson. His founding love interest Natalie Portman returns, but this time as a female version of Thor.
    • In his parting words, Feige revealed that Oscar winner Ma her sha la Ali was joining the family to reboot “Blade,” about a human with vampire strength. He also alluded to getting to work on developing the Marvel properties he inherited when Disney acquired 20th Century Fox earlier this year, including the Fantastic Four and mutants of X-Men.
  • The Winners (and Losers) of San Diego Comic-Con 2019
    • This year of SDCC was kind of mixed. Marvel Studios and Star Trek delivered with big panels and even bigger news, while others like Watchmen and His Dark Materials fell short of getting audiences pumped for what’s to come. Then, there was that one trailer that, while not technically part of San Diego Comic-Con, ended up dominating the whole convention in a way that cannot be ignored. Whether that’s good or bad is, well, up to you.
      • Winners
      • The Expanse Landed on New Ground 
    • Passionate fans of The Expanse, who by all accounts played a big role in helping the show find a new home at Amazon Prime Video, were richly rewarded at this year’s Comic-Con. In 2018, the show had just been rescued from the cancellation pile, and it was way too soon to share anything about season four. But a year later, Amazon and The Expanse came through, dropping the first images in the lead-up to a teaser trailer and a clip, as well as the release date: December 13! While that’s still several months away, all the stunning new visuals as well as fun hints from the cast, showrunner, and writers about what’s to come provided ample assurance that the wait is going to be majorly worth it.
      • The Witcher looked…good??
    • Netflix’s The Witcher TV show has been on our minds for months, mostly because we weren’t sure what to make of it. After all, the first image teased a truly terrible wig on star Henry Cavill, one that’s almost become as ubiquitous to the franchise as the unicorn or bathtub. But we finally got the first trailer for The Witcher at San Diego Comic-Con…and it looks pretty badass. It’s dark and sexy. Cavill does all his own stunts. It’s got giant creepy spiders and a massive masquerade orgy. While the wig still doesn’t look perfect, the series has gotten our attention. Especially because, yes, season one will have a bathtub—a quintessential part of any Witcher adaptation
      • Horror Had a Hell of a Time
    • The biggest headlines belonged to Marvel and Star Trek, but horror fans who sought out Comic-Con’s darker corners also came away smiling. In addition to the news of two more Halloween movies coming in the rebooted continuity, the annual “ScareDiego” event turned its focus on It: Chapter Two, bringing out director Andy Muschietti and the adult Losers’ Club (including Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader) to share exclusive footage and behind-the-scenes tales. Guillermo del Toro headed up a fascinating Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark panel focusing on the practical special effects that will bring the iconic creatures—carefully modeled on the creepy drawings familiar to anyone who’s read the source material—to the big screen. TV series like Creepshow (coming to Shudder) and FX’s What We Do in the Shadows got lively panels that mixed star power with the macabre. Plus…Blade counts as horror, no?
      • Mahershala Ali and Natalie Portman’s surprise entrances
    • The whole Marvel Studios panel was one of the biggest highlights of Comic-Con but, frankly, almost all of the information was already out there. Almost. Marvel had several huge surprises up their sleeve including the return of Natalie Portman as Jane Foster who, in Thor: Love and Thunder, will finally take the mantle of the Mighty Thor. And then, pulling his best Steve Jobs, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige added “One More Thing,” which was the introduction of two0time Oscar-winner (and previous Marvel actor, albeit on Netflix) Mahershala Ali who will be playing the daywalking, vampire-killing Blade.
    • More than just being awesome surprises, decisions like these show that after 11 years, Marvel Studios is finally taking its considerable box office weight and using it for progressive, socially-conscious decisions, which seems to be a theme for everything the company announced at Comic-Con. And we’re here for it
      • Star Trek going boldly
    • When I first realized CBS was going to combine most of its upcoming Star Trek projects into one panel I was a bit disappointed but when all was said and done, “Enter the Star Trek Universe” was a shining beacon of the con. Our first look at the animated Lower Decks was a delightful surprise and while we didn’t see or hear much on Discovery season three, the upcoming Short Treks look like a hell of a lot of fun with great guest stars.
    • The biggest highlight of all though was the Star Trek: Picard portion. James Whitbrook did an excellent breakdown of all we saw but it’s safe to say this one blew us away. That. Trailer. Was. Exhilarating. And hearing Patrick Stewart so enthused about returning to his iconic role was simply joyful. Plus, the little pop-up Picard museum was adorable
      • Losers
    • Comic-Con’s big anniversary
    • San Diego Comic-Con celebrated its 50th anniversary with more of a whimper than a bang. Apart from a retro-style logo and a few lesser-attended panels about previous decades of SDCC, there was very little fanfare about what should be a major milestone for the comic convention. It was especially disappointing because this was supposed to be the year to get fans excited about the Comic-Con Museum. The museum, which is still in early development, had a paltry presence on the show floor. Most of their promotions were offsite in Balboa Park, which is way too far for most con attendees to get to. We wanted 2019 to feel like a celebration of something extraordinary, but instead, it felt like just another year. -Beth Elderkin
    • Cats…was Cats
    • Much like a surly cat who truly doesn’t give two shits what you thought you were meant to be paying attention to, the first trailer for Tom Hopper’s live-action Cats dropped a day early in the midst of San Diego Comic-Con last week, prompting everyone to stop what they were doing and take a look. By now, you’ve seen the memes and gotten the general sense that most people were bemusedly alarmed by their first looks at Jennifer Hudson, Dame Judy Dench, and Jason Derulo as anthropomorphic cats. 
    • Cats was a polarizing musical long before someone decided to cast Bombalurina, and so in a way, the intensely negative reactions that poured out online in the wake of the first trailer were fitting. Here’s the thing: it’s Cats. Cats has always been kind of weird and uncomfortable—it’s the reason why some folks bristle when others mention it as being one of their favorite musicals. Cats wouldn’t be Cats if it didn’t look like it crawled out of the uncanny nexus between furrydom and interactive theater, and like it or not, there’s no chance in hell the studio’s going to try to change much about the movie at this point.