Disneyland Paris to Reopen June 17 as Life Gets More Normal Thanks to Vaccinations

The entrance of a vaccination center against the coronavirus at Disneyland Paris in Coupvray on April 24, 2021.

The entrance of a vaccination center against the coronavirus at Disneyland Paris in Coupvray on April 24, 2021.
Photo: Geoffrey Van Der Hasselt/AFP (Getty Images)

Disneyland Paris, the only Disney park in Europe, will reopen on June 17, according to a new statement published on Twitter from the Euro Disney Group.

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The Paris theme park will be the last of the Disney properties internationally to reopen as people in France get vaccinated against covid-19 and wealthy countries gradually return to normal life—provided they’ve purchased enough vaccine doses for their populations.

“We are pleased to announce that Disneyland Paris will reopen on June 17 with Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Studios Park, Disney’s Newport Bay Club Hotel and Disney Village. Our reopening will follow enhanced health and safety measures,” Euro Disney Group wrote in a statement.

“The long-awaited Disney’s Hotel New York – The Art of Marvel will open on June 21, with sales opening on May 18. We look forward to welcoming you back to the heart of the Magic!” the company said.

Disneyland Paris was originally rumored to reopen in early April, according to the large ecosystem of Disney blogs, but those plans never materialized.

France’s vaccination program has accelerated in recent weeks, with over 20.1 million people receiving at least a first dose. Over 8.9 people in France, or roughly 13% of the population has been full vaccinated. Disneyland Paris has even been used as a vaccination site, as you can see from the photo above.

The covid-19 pandemic shuttered Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disney in late January of 2020, a ominous sign that illnesses in China were even more serious than the outside world even realized. In fact, when we wrote about the closures in Shanghai and Hong Kong, international health experts hadn’t given it the name covid-19 yet. The disease was known as “2019-nCoV coronavirus.” But when they close Disneyland you know something serious is going on.

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There were only five cases in the U.S. when Hong Kong Disneyland announced it was closing. What a bizarre year and a half it’s been. And what a relief that things are getting back to normal.

AT&T and Discovery Are Reportedly in Talks to Combine Content to Take on Disney and Netflix

Illustration for article titled AT&T and Discovery Are Reportedly in Talks to Combine Content to Take on Disney and Netflix

Photo: Saul Loeb (Getty Images)

AT&T and Discovery Inc. may soon join forces to improve their chances against leading competitors like Netflix and Disney in the streaming wars. According to multiple reports, the two companies are in talks to merge Discovery’s reality TV empire with AT&T’s catalog of cable channels and other media holdings to create a new entertainment entity.

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AT&T and Discovery are in the advanced stages of negotiations and an agreement could be reached by Monday, sources told the Wall Street Journal on Sunday. So far, the companies have discussed several major players in AT&T’s WarnerMedia division, including CNN and its TNT and TBS cable channels. If they make a deal, AT&T shareholders would own a big stake in the new entity, according to the outlet. People familiar with the negotiations told Bloomberg a deal could be announced as soon as this week.

Tipsters that spoke with both outlets didn’t reveal terms of a potential deal and cautioned that these talks could still fall apart before an agreement is reached. Both AT&T and Discovery have declined to comment on the matter.

One thing’s for sure, the two certainly have enough content to market a joint venture. AT&T’s cable empire includes CNN, HBO, Cartoon Network, TruTV, and Cinemax, among others, along with the movie roster of Warner Bros. studio. Meanwhile, Discovery’s offerings include Food Network, TLC, and HGTV—some of the most binge-worthy trash TV that cable has to offer (and I say that affectionately).

AT&T’s existing streaming channel, HBO Max, has steadily gained subscribers since its debut last May despite its chaotic rollout, but it hasn’t seen the same explosive growth as Disney+ did in its first year. Discovery’s streaming service, Discovery+, is also fairly new on the scene, and both face steep competition from long-established services like Netflix. So teaming up could certainly give them an edge.

On the other hand, AT&T could be shooting itself in the foot here. It already plans to roll out a cheaper, ad-supported tier of HBO Max in June, which could deter existing subscribers from sticking with their more expensive plan. If people can also watch their favorite WarnerMedia programming on another streaming service like Discovery+, that’s one more reason for them to quit paying full price for HBO Max. It’s like AT&T is determined to undermine its own sales pitch.

Anthony Mackie Talks Black Panther’s Legacy and Traveling to Wakanda

Anthony Mackie is Captain America

Anthony Mackie is Captain America
Screenshot: Marvel Studios

When the new title of Black Panther dropped (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), everyone was lit. Since then, actors in the MCU have discussed the Black Panther experience.

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First actress Lupita Nyong’o spoke about returning to the Black Panther set without Chadwick Boseman. Then Michael B. Jordan expressed his excitement on the new title and whether Killmonger is returning to the sequel. Now, actor Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon/Captain America) is weighing in.

Mackie sat down with ET and expressed his feelings about the new title. “It’s dope,” he says. “I feel like continuing that legacy is very important. There are a bunch of amazing actors and actresses under that Black Panther mantle who are now going to come together, and that legacy will live on. So, I’m really excited that they’re showing that it’s not specifically about Black Panther, but it’s about Wakanda.”

Bucky has one foot in Wakanda as he was a guest of T’challa after the end of Captain America: Civil War, and while there, he receives a new vibrainium arm. Falcon and the Winter Soldier often reflects on Bucky’s connection to Wakanda, but Wilson has also benefited from having close ties to the African country as his new flight suit is created by Wakanda genius Shuri.

When asked if Falcon will return to Wakanda via the new Disney+ show World of Wakanda, this is what he had to say, “I do have a Wakanda visa, so I can go to Wakanda as much as I want,” the actor laughs. “I have a passport and a Wakanda visa, and I’m vaccinated so I can go to Wakanda.”

Whether he will appear in the new film is up for debate, but Mackie just wants the Black Panther sequel to honor Chadwick Boseman, “You just want to do everything the right way. I don’t know what that answer is. I don’t know what that right thing is. I just want to make sure that it’s done right for him.”

As the new Captain America, Sam Wilson is bound to show up in some capacity throughout the MCU. For now, we’ll just have to wait for some definitive news!

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Amazon Explains Lord of the Rings’ Giant Budget, Which Is Still Smaller Than Jeff Bezos’ Yacht

Sauron don’t come cheap.

Sauron don’t come cheap.
Image: New Line

Yes, the budget for Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series is almost half a billion dollars, but the woman behind it is happy to explain. In a new interview, head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke doesn’t deny last month’s reports that the show cost the studio about $465 million; she also blames both the market for original content between streamers and a bit of misunderstanding of the process for why the number is so big.

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“The market is crazy, as you saw with the [almost $500 million] Knives Out deal,” Salke told the Hollywood Reporter in a roundtable that included Netflix’s Bela Bajaria, Disney’s Dana Walden and creatives Shonda Rhimes and Ava DuVernay.

“This is a full season of a huge world-building show. The number is a sexy headline or a crazy headline that’s fun to click on, but that is really building the infrastructure of what will sustain the whole series,” she continued. “But it is a crazy world and various people on this Zoom, mostly Bela and me, have been in bidding situations where it starts to go incredibly high. There’s a lot of wooing and we have to make decisions on where we want to stretch and where we want to draw the line. As for how many people need to watch Lord of the Rings? A lot. [Laughs.] A giant, global audience needs to show up to it as appointment television, and we are pretty confident that that will happen.”

Oh, and of note, that $465 million reportedly doesn’t include the $250 million Amazon spent to get the rights to the franchise. (For what it’s worth, $465 million is also less than the cost of Jeff Bezos’ recently acquired “superyacht.”) So, indeed, a lot people are going to have to watch. Basically, all the people.

What Salke says makes sense, of course. Streamers are spending big money to bring in audiences to help sustain those investments. Plus, that $465 million will include lots of sets, props, costumes, and basic needs that won’t have to be paid for in full again. So maybe next season is closer to $200 million or something like that.

Either way, it’s a big bet on a franchise that obviously has lots of name recognition, but almost seems like it’s being slightly overvalued here. We’ll watch the show. You’ll watch the show. But will your parents, grandparents, kids, etc? Only the elves in Rivendell know for sure.


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Gates McFadden on Podcasting With Star Trek Friends and the Franchise’s Enduring Legacy

Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Gates McFadden holding a pair of headphones to promote her podcast.

A new assignment for the Enterprise’s CMO.
Photo: The Nacelle Company

Gates McFadden’s career goes well beyond the ins and outs of the Enterprise sickbay. While she might be best known to sci-fi fans as Star Trek: The Next Generation’s iconic Dr. Beverly Crusher, McFadden’s taught, acted on stage and screen, worked on Jim Henson hits like Labyrinth, and more. Now, she’s picking up a new skill: interviewer of other Star Trek icons.

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The first podcast from the Nacelle Company—the production team behind documentary series like The Toys That Made Us, Down to Earth With Zac Efron, and Disney+’s Behind the Attraction—dropped today and sees McFadden reminisce with notable Star Trek creatives from across the franchise’s history. The 10-episode series includes guests like LeVar Burton, Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, and many more from TNG, but also Voyager and Deep Space Nine favorites, including Robert Picardo and Nana Visitor. Speaking of everyone’s favorite Bajoran, you can actually check out an exclusive preview of McFadden’s chat with Visitor below, making its debut here on io9!

To celebrate the launch of the series, io9 spoke to McFadden to learn about picking up podcasting as her latest hobby in a long career, what Star Trek’s resurgence means to her and to the franchise, and why she wanted her Trek-heavy guest list to still feel fresh and unique to listeners who aren’t fans of the long-running sci-fi franchise. Check out the full interview below!


James Whitbrook, io9: Why was now the time you wanted to do a series like this?

Gates McFadden: Because I was asked! And I actually turned it down twice! Because I couldn’t figure out, “why now?” Brian Volk-Weiss, who is the CEO of Nacelle, is the one who called me out of the blue. I didn’t know him—and he was so charming that he just charmed me into doing this. And I am loving it, I am so glad he did. It seems like the perfect time that it happened during the pandemic because you can record remotely. Sometimes we’d—he’d built a studio, so sometimes we were in, recording some of the beginning ones in the studio… but I think I’m finding my way. I have such wonderful friends, that it’s just fabulous to share our friendship with people, and also try to highlight them. It’s pretty amazing, the group of actors who’ve been involved with the Star Trek franchise. We’re all very close, actually, it’s unusual. I think every conversation, I’ve learned something more about my friends that I didn’t know and I hope the people who listen to the podcast feel the same way.

io9: You’ve had an extensive career both in front of and behind the camera—this is a relatively new situation for you, to have to guide these conversations. What has that process been like for you?

McFadden: I actually love to research things, I’m curious. So even though I know all the things my friends have done, I love to try to find new things I didn’t know about them. And even if I didn’t ask questions, it’s always fun to revisit something they’ve acted in or done. You have to know how to guide it, but I didn’t just want it to be an interview—I didn’t just want to say, “Okay, LeVar [Burton, who played Geordi LaForge on The Next Generation], I’m going to interview you.” I wanted it to be something that was also a conversation and showed our closeness—that we could laugh and joke and all of a sudden, something powerful might come up. And that has happened, I would say, which is exciting. You can go from something that’s very serious, to funny and it absolutely shows our shared history, how we’re dealing with each other. So hopefully that’s the way people will hear it as well. I was nervous in the beginning because I hadn’t done it, then once I learned how to edit sound, I’ve been doing the editing—a wonderful fellow looks over what I’ve done and refines it, but I’m making the choices on the edit. I’ve spent quite a bit of time on it! I’ve learned a lot. In a lot of ways, it’s about finding things that make it flow better… it’s just like anything, like directing, you get into it and it’s similar. I think, sometimes, it’s more like I’m interviewing, sometimes it’s just like we’re having… there’s no there, controlling the conversation as much. Which is really kind of cool.

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io9: You said you’ve drawn quite the roster of friends over the years, not just your colleagues on TNG, it’s people involved with the Star Trek franchise at large—both in front of and behind the camera. Has it changed anything about your perspective of yours and theirs places in the franchise?

McFadden: Amazing, isn’t it? It’s truly amazing. It became clear to me when many of us, from all the different shows, were on different Zooms [last year] raising money for the Democratic candidate for president, Joe Biden. It really hit me when I saw all of these intelligent people on this big Zoom call, and I was so honored to be part of it. I thought, “Boy, the casting people—and the producers—they really had something in their minds,” because every single one of these people I’d want to get to know. They all seem to be passionate about making the world a better place, working for change, really walking the walk, and not just doing something in an occasional interview. I really think it’s quite a stellar group of people.

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The more of the cast members I met, either from Discovery or Picard, the more this pans out for me. I got to work with Ethan Peck—we were improvising together on something, where I was Kirk and he was Spock—on the [official Star Trek] cruise. I had a blast with him. We just totally clicked. And you hang out afterwards and you get to know people from all different shows. It’s been decades I’ve known John de Lancie, and Robert Picardo, and Nana Visitor— people like that. Some people like Denise [Crosby, TNG’s Tasha Yar] and Brent [Spiner, TNG’s Data], I’ve directed in things. So, there’s a lot of ways we intersect in our lives. It’s very unusual, it seems to me, to have a franchise where so many people get along so well.

Illustration for article titled Gates McFadden on Podcasting With Star Trek Friends and the Franchise's Enduring Legacy

Photo: The Nacelle Company

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io9: Trek aside, one thing that fascinated me to discover with this is your history with the Jim Henson Company as a choreographer on Labyrinth. Is that part of your career something you’d like to explore in the podcast, beyond your chats with people from Star Trek history?

McFadden: I don’t know—I haven’t thought that far ahead. There’s so many Star Trek people I could still talk to, really. Before Labyrinth, I had some acting in New York for years and had been teaching at a lot of drama universities and programs all over the United States, and done a lot of theater, a lot of different things. That was more of a fluke that I got asked to do that, and I took it because I was told by Jim I could also play Jennifer Connelly’s mother in the movie—but British Equity would not allow it. Even though that was the reason I took the job and had, for two years, been thinking that was what was going to happen. They would not allow us. Whereas in American Equity, British actors all the time act in our shows, so… that was a disappointment that I didn’t find that out until I was already over in London, working as choreographer.

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io9: To bring it back to Star Trek, you get to talk to your friends as friends here, rather than as stars of the franchise. What’s surprised you most about them connecting in a format like this?

McFadden: Well, I think the thing that stood out to me most is how difficult it is to hear yourself while doing a podcast. It’s sort of an existential dilemma! There’ve been surprises—like, with Wil Wheaton, I tried to play games with him because he’s just a good podcast host. I wanted to not have it so he felt like he was being interviewed, or interviewing me, so, I made us play games. Things like “Never Have I Ever” or answer ethical questions. Really surprising things came up. I learned so much about him, that was super fun. I learned stuff about Jonathan [Frakes, TNG’s Commander Riker]. You know, like dinner time at Jonathan’s house, and how he and his dad behaved one day… really things I’d never heard before, these stories. I hope people who listen will enjoy it as much as I did doing it. We’ll see. I thought better to try something and fail than not try at all. That’s what I was doing. I had a blast!

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io9: You’re doing this at an interesting time for Star Trek—what’s it been like for you, seeing Star Trek become really big again in a way it hasn’t been for a while?

McFadden: I think it’s very, very wonderful. I’m quite thrilled to see Star Trek being embraced so much. The show does talk about our collective future in a way that there is inclusion and more tolerance and seeking for answers—the search for answers instead of just judgemental, “This is wrong. This is right,” but being able to hold contradictions. The thing that I always loved about Star Trek is that it teaches people how to think and discuss things collectively, and that is what we need to do if there is going to be a future if we ever work together to solve some of our crises—be it economic or environmental. So, I’ve loved it. Even if I could go back to the Next Generation, the very idea that there was a character like Wesley Crusher… I think that was such a prophecy of what was coming with young people, and technology, and how they are coming up with robotic things and all sorts of stuff. We have the rover on Mars—what it’s capable of doing it astonishing!

I think that that is why Star Trek is popular. I think all of the generations that followed ours—someone I talked to today, he was seven when he first saw “Encounter at Farpoint,” and technology is totally a part of his life. So, it makes sense it’s come back because that is where it was when we started our show from when the original started. It’s about the future. The writers talked to scientists and people who were futurists—that was their title—and look at all the things that we have now in technology, like the cell phone, and many other things. And that’s just going to happen more and more. So why not be involved in a show that talks about the future in a positive way? I would say that’s why it’s more popular now. We really have seen how some of the things we’re talking about have come to fruition. And that is going to happen more and more if we work together and think about these problems in a positive way.

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InvestiGates: Who Do You Think You Are? launches today and is available where all good podcasts can be hyposprayed into your eardrums, including on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Podbean, Amazon Music, and more.

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Netflix’s Wish Dragon Trailer Looks a Lot Like Aladdin Ball Z

A giant pink and purple dragon puts his arms around a man in a suit.

You ain’t never had a friend like me!
Screenshot: Netflix

Trailer FrenzyA special place to find the newest trailers for movies and TV shows you’re craving.

Finding a wish-granting dragon in a teapot seems a lot easier than summoning a wish-granting dragon by collecting seven Dragon Balls. Or so it seems in Wish Dragon, a new animated movie from Netflix about a young man who stumbles upon his own extremely genie-esque dragon.

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Wish Dragon is the first film for the newly formed Base Animation studio, located in Xiamen, China, and Jackie Chan’s Sparkle Roll Media. Interestingly, Chan will voice the dragon in Long in the Mandarin release of the movie, while the U.S. version has Star Trek’s John Cho in the role. The film also stars Jimmy Wong, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Constance Wu, and Will Yun Lee. Take a look:

I’ve spent the last hour researching whether there’s any mythological basis for the film’s conceit that Chinese dragons grant wishes and/or live in teapots, and all I can find is that in Buddhism, some dragons can have pearls under their chins that can grant a wish if they’re obtained. But there seem to be no dragons that run around giving out wishes willy-nilly, let alone hang out in teapots. So Wish Dragon does seem to take the “dragons grant wishes” premise of the long-running action anime Dragon Ball and then stuffs it deep in Disney’s 1992 hit animated musical Aladdin. The titular Wish Dragon turns from bombastic to wacky at the drop of a dime, much like Robin Williams’ Genie in Aladdin; Netflix’s movie also uses Aladdin’s “phenomenal cosmic power, itty bitty living space” gag when the Wish Dragon returns to his teapot, complete with a high-pitched voice. And the movie is basically about a poor young man desperate to connect with a young, rich, upper-class woman, and uses at least one of his wishes to pretend to be important and wealthy, just like Aladdin.

Where the movie differs, of course, is that it’s set in modern-day Shanghai, where Din (Jimmy Wong) longs to reconnect with his childhood best friend Lina (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), who became a famous actress or model or something. The trailer makes it appear that Din’s only in it for friendship, but if it turns out he has romantic feelings for Lina, it’s going to be even more Aladdin-y. None of this is necessarily a bad thing, of course, and given that Netflix’s last animated movie was the phenomenal The Mitchells Vs. the Machines, it’s worth giving Wish Dragon the benefit of the doubt. Also, the movie was written and directed by Christopher Applehans, who was an illustrator on the equally phenomenal Coraline and a winner of a Children’s Choice Book Award, so that’s more points in the film’s favor.

Wish Dragon premieres on Netflix on June 11.


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We Are Exhausted, We Are the ’90s X-Men Cartoon’s Jean Grey

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Jean really trying to keep the Phoenix contained.
Screenshot: Disney+

By the end of The Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean’s naps were less about her and more about the Phoenix fully subsuming her personality and going on an interstellar rampage that left billions of people dead. At the beginning of the saga, though, Jean was still in the throes of her possession and trying to force the Phoenix out with little success. Out of all the times in Jean’s life where she prioritized lying down, few are as understandable as her Phoenix heel turn considering the effort she was exerting. Easy a target as Jean is for derision (some of it deserved), you’ve got to give her credit for always picking herself back up, eventually, even from death. Her whole resurrection bit’s mostly due to the Phoenix’s power, sure, but it’s nice to think that at least some of it is due to the fact that throughout her superheroic career, she never wasted any energy pretending she wasn’t on the brink of physical and mental exhaustion. Relatable.

X-Men: The Animated Series is now streaming on Disney+.


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This Week’s Toys Definitely Didn’t See This Coming

New toys of Star Trek's Captain Picard, Marvel's Quicksilver, and Star Wars: The Bad Batch

Image: EXO, Hasbro, and Lego

Toys and CollectiblesAction figures, statues, exclusives, and other merchandise. Beware: if you look here, you’re probably going to spend some money afterwards.

Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9’s regular round up of the latest and snazziest merchandise on the internet. This week, Star Wars: The Bad Batch descends on the world of Lego, while Star Trek beams itself back up to action figures, and… no one can withstand beach balls of this magnitude!? Check it out!

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Illustration for article titled This Week's Toys Definitely Didn't See This Coming

Image: EXO-6

EXO-6 Star Trek: First Contact Captain Jean-Luc Picard Sixth-Scale Figure

Star Trek has flirted with 1:6 scale figures before, but CBS’s latest partnership with EXO has high hopes to go beyond and deliver figures from every iteration of the franchise. Things are kicking off with Jean-Luc Picard, and surprisingly, it’s not Patrick Stewart’s captain as he appeared in The Next Generationit’s his later movie uniform, specifically from First Contact. Complete with an alternate vest jacket, a phaser rifle and pistol, and open and closed tricorders, Picard also comes with various sets of hands to hold all those wonderful toys. Added bonus? The gripping hands could just as equally be used to pose him doing the real Picard maneuver: tugging his jacket down in place whenever he stood up from the Enterprise captain’s chair. Picard is set to cost $190 when he releases later this year. [Toyark]


Illustration for article titled This Week's Toys Definitely Didn't See This Coming

Image: Lego

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Lego Star Wars: The Bad Batch Attack Shuttle

Dropping just in time for the Clone Wars spin-off to hit Disney+, Lego’s new 969-piece The Bad Batch Attack Shuttle set includes the shuttle itself, two speeder bikes, a gonk droid, and minifigure versions of Tech, Hunter, Wrecker, Crosshair, and Echo—otherwise known as the bad batch of clones that didn’t turn out quite right. You can pre-order it now, but the set’s not expected to ship until August 1, well after the series will conclude its 16-episode run.

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Illustration for article titled This Week's Toys Definitely Didn't See This Coming

Image: Hiya Toys

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Hiya Toys RoboCop 2 SDCC 2021 Exclusive Robert Cop 2 Variant

Knockoff toys are a genuine problem for toymakers, but at the same time they’re also a source of much hilarity for collectors. One of the most memorable bootlegs of all time, shared across the internet millions of times, is a knockoff RocoCop 2 figure simply named “Robert Cop 2,” which, thanks to its ill-gotten fame, is almost more collectible than the real thing. So for San Diego Comic-Con 2021, Hiya Toys, who currently produces RoboCop figures, is releasing its own 3.75-inch Robert Cop 2 figure as a $20 exclusive for the convention. You’re mostly just paying for the novelty packaging, but you don’t hear us complaining.

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Illustration for article titled This Week's Toys Definitely Didn't See This Coming

Image: Amazon

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Giant Six-Foot Inflatable Star Wars Death Star Beach Ball

The real Death Star was capable of destroying entire planets, but you’ll have to set your destructive sights a little lower with this six-foot wide Death Star beach ball that can only wipe out small groups of children, sand castles, elaborate cakes, and champagne glass towers with a single toss. It’s recommended for users aged 12 and older, because anyone younger and smaller than that will simply be bowled over like Indiana Jones escaping a booby trap. Amazon lists it, but it appears to be currently sold out, so here’s hoping it will restock before the summer officially arrives.

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Illustration for article titled This Week's Toys Definitely Didn't See This Coming

Image: Hasbro

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Hasbro Marvel Avengers Age of Ultron Quicksilver Legends Series Figure

Hasbro isn’t exactly running out of characters from the Marvel universe to turn into action figures, but that hasn’t stopped it from immortalizing one of the MCU’s shortest-lived heroes in articulated plastic: Quicksilver… no, not the Quicksilver that surprised everyone during WandaVision, the other Pietro that died in Sokovia. Pre-orders for the $26.50 figure started earlier this week and despite the character being mostly forgotten in the MCU, it’s already sold out. But a lot can happen between now and its September release, and there could be more chances to pre-order one.

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Illustration for article titled This Week's Toys Definitely Didn't See This Coming

Image: Numskull

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Numskull Back To The Future 3D Desk Lamp and Wall Light

The Back to the Future trilogy might be second only to Star Wars when it comes to the number of coveted props featured in the films. Not only is the time-traveling DeLorean worth drooling over, it comes packed with other collectible gadgets, including the famed flux capacitor and the time circuits—which Numskull has recreated as a $30 desk lamp or wall lamp if you’re willing to go to the trouble of mounting it. It can be powered by a micro USB cable or three AAA batteries if you want to go cordless, and while the numbers indicating when you’re going, when you are, and when you’ve been light up, they unfortunately can’t be changed. Which is too bad because this would have made for a great alarm clock.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Foretold WandaVision’s Plot in Song

Rebecca Bunch realizing that she’s a villain.
Gif: The CW

Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) moved to Westview, New Jersey in hopes of starting a new life with the person she loved, there was Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom). She’s an over-stressed lawyer who, like Wanda, confidently believed that she could will a new life for herself into existence simply by telling people that she’d become a different person.

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Ridiculous as the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend often was, its story was always rooted in Rebecca’s genuine love for the people around her, and her larger process of coming to terms with some longstanding neuroses she needed to see a therapist about. Though it was billed as a comedy, the show also made an effort at multiple points to convey how, even though Rebecca was ostensibly the protagonist, she’d done more than enough messed-up things in pursuit of a man that she became the true villain of her own story. Toward its series finale, WandaVision began circling around a similar conclusion about its own titular heroine, but never quite got around to spelling things out or really having Wanda face the consequences of her actions. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend got to this important point much earlier in its story and with much less wiggle room for its central character at a time when she was doing some genuinely unhinged things.

Rachel’s major reason for moving to West Covina, California in the first place boiled down to the fact that after years of being apart, she was still madly in love with Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III), who she’d dated for a few months as a teenager. Though Rachel had no business in West Covina, Josh being there (and her being unhappy in New York City) was all it took to convince her to pack up her things, and relocate, all of which were wildly irresponsible things to do for a man who wasn’t even really checking for her like that still. But in West Covina, Rachel quickly made new friends and began cobbling together a new chapter for herself, all the while lying to people about her motivations; eventually, Josh did come back into her orbit, figuring that the pair could become pals once again. Clueless a person as Josh generally was, he had no idea the lengths Rebecca was willing to go to in order to “accidentally” show up places he would be in hopes of re-igniting their old flame. Rebecca, by contrast, was always very aware of the wildness of her actions, which is partially why she would confide in people like her colleague Paula Proctor (Donna Lynne Champlin), who could understand that she really didn’t mean Josh any harm.

Though Crazy-Ex Girlfriend’s musical flights of fancy often skewed fantastical, the show always treated its songs as representations of what was going through character’s heads rather than actual things they were saying. But much in the same way that Wanda’s Westview Hex warped those trapped within it to become supporting characters in her domestic fantasy, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend very smartly depicted Rebecca as a chaos agent whose presence encouraged other people to act on their more reckless impulses. Sympathetic and often encouraging as Paula was of Rachel’s decisions, things like her plan to convince Josh to leave his girlfriend Valencia (Gabrielle Ruiz) were quite villainous, and it wasn’t until one of Rebecca’s earliest ploys to ensnare Josh nearly worked that she stopped for a moment to consider whether what she was doing made her the bad guy.

After a surprising kiss made clear that there was some degree of attraction between Rebecca and Josh, in a fit of guilt he felt compelled to confess what happened to Valencia, and planned to take a trip to Hawaii to think about his actions regardless of how his confession played out. Rebecca, trying to grease the wheels a bit, lied to Josh about having broken up with her own boyfriend, and after a conversation with Paula, resolved to stop Josh from telling Valencia what happened in hopes that the kiss might be the beginning of their new relationship. Given how guileless Josh generally was, there’s a good chance that had Rebecca stopped him and said she also “just so happened” to be on her way to Hawaii, it’s likely that he would have fallen for her ploy. But instead, she missed him by mere moments, and when Josh told Valencia about the kiss, she was none-too-pleased about it—though she forgave him all the same, mainly because those kinds of things weren’t what got at her insecurities.

As Rebecca stopped to consider how she’d recently pawned a number of her valued items (including a family heirloom) in order to buy a plane ticket to chase a man, she can’t deny that she’s wandered into a dark place in pursuit of Josh. “The Villain In My Own Story,” a song featured in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s season one episode “Josh Is Going to Hawaii!”, deconstructs and plays with a number of the tropes present in romcom narratives to comedic effect. But while Rebecca daydreams about herself being an evil witch plotting to murder Valencia, envisioned as a Kate Hudson-type princess, the song repeatedly lands on the conclusion that Rebecca is, in fact, the bad guy at hand. Funny as the song is in the moment, it would come define a lot of Rebecca’s characterization in the series as it explored some of the deeper sources of her neuroses and compulsive behavior.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend made no qualms about calling out its heroine for her bullshit, and in doing so, set itself up to be a much more honest exploration of her personality and the consequences of her actions. When Wanda pops up next in the MCU, it would be very interesting if it somehow involved a magical music number, but frankly more surprising if it centered on holding Wanda accountable for the mess she made in Westview.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is now streaming on the CW, and WandaVision is streaming on Disney+.

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Star Wars: The Bad Batch’s Cast and Crew on Omega’s Big Reveal

Welcome to the team, Omega.

Welcome to the team, Omega.
Screenshot: Lucasfilm

One of the most intriguing figures in Star Wars: The Bad Batch’s premiere wasn’t just that surprising cameo. In fact, arguably one of the most interesting additions to the Star Wars prequel canon in years comes in the form of the squad’s newest ally, Omega—and Bad Batch’s crew sees the addition as one of the show’s greatest challenges.

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Ever since Omega was glimpsed in the show’s trailers, fans have speculated just who they could be. Many were right that Omega is indeed a new clone from the same Jango Fett template that the rest of them, including the Bad Batch, were developed from. But what the premiere reveals is that Omega, despite being brought up to believe otherwise, is part of the “Bad Batch” like our titular heroes; it’s just she’s, well… a she. Voiced in the show by Michelle Ang, Omega quickly becomes a driving force. The decision to introduce a female Jango clone wasn’t really at the forefront of producers Jennifer Corbett and Brad Rau’s minds, however. For the duo, it was what Omega represented to the Batch. “Early on in the development, we kept asking ourselves: how we can challenge the Bad Batch, because they are these efficient, skilled elite troopers—and what would really give them trouble along the way? It seemed if we added a child into the mix it would be a sort of fish-out-of-water experience because it’s something they are completely unfamiliar with and don’t know how to deal with,” Corbett told io9 on a recent video call.

That’s not to say Omega’s status as a clone—and specifically like Crosshair, Hunter, Wrecker, and Tech, a “defect” of the Fett template—isn’t an important part of her story. The Bad Batch wants to explore not just the titular squad’s relationship to the Empire, but their relationship to the standard clones that are now its footsoldiers as well, and Omega will play an important part in that parallel. “In terms of her being a clone, it’s really just us expanding on the Batch—in the eyes of the regs, they’re just really seen as these defects. The defective clones in this oddball squad who aren’t really welcomed, because a lot of people don’t really know about it,” Corbett said. “So when they find out there’s another one of them out there and it’s this child who is also considered ‘defective’ and knows what it’s like to be different and not fit in—especially on Kamino—it felt like a bonding kind of moment.”

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Screenshot: Lucasfilm

“It was also fun to show her as this fan of the Batch because she’s looked up to them and heard of them and they are like her,” she added. “It was an interesting dynamic that we got to explore.” A welcome dynamic too, for The Bad Batch’s star: returning Clone Wars and Rebels veteran Dee Bradley Baker, the voice of Captain Rex and the rest of the Grand Army of the Republic, and now approximately 90% of The Bad Batch’s primary cast. “Well, it’s nice to have another member of the ensemble!” Baker joked. “It’s also… it’s a really smart and interesting idea, to add the element of Omega into this story. So it’s not just action and war, but also an experienced grown-up with his own child and interesting capacities, as we start to indicate. So, as with Star Wars—as always—it’s not just these frozen characters, but the dynamic that is playing out: the personal, human story is playing out under the canopy of these greater political, military forces that everyone has to contend with, which are quite profound and dramatic and dire, often.”

“It’s nice that it adds a counterbalancing human element to it, of a personal relationship…to have this little character, Omega, and this A-Team of very different, very independent, improvisational, kind of each-is-his own-warrior kind of team—we have to deal with this sweet, innocent, powerful, capable, smart child,” Baker concluded. “It’s an interesting story choice that I think plays out really beautifully in Bad Batch.”

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Star Wars: The Bad Batch is now streaming on Disney+.


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