Loki Theories: Let’s Hear Your Best and Your Worst

Tom Hiddleston and Wunmi Mosaku confront an unseen threat as Loki and Hunter B-15 on Marvel's Loki.

Not everything is as it seems on Loki… or is it?
Image: Marvel Studios

The second episode of Loki is here, and the show is already twisting its own twists enough to make a contortionist blush. But one major reveal in particular already has everyone talking—and we want to know what you think is going on!

Advertisement

Illustration for article titled Loki Theories: Let's Hear Your Best and Your Worst

The climax of “The Variant” pulls the rug under ours, the God of Mischief’s, and probably half the TVA’s proverbial feet by revealing the identity of the mysterious Loki Variant Mobius has tasked our Loki with helping to hunt down. Not only does he successfully find them, but he also discovers the identity of his fellow Loki is actually the Goddess of Mischief. Or is she? The Variant, played by Sophia Di Martino, certainly looks like she’s taking an aesthetic page out of the appearance of Lady Loki in Marvel’s comics. First appearing in 2008’s Thor #5, the female version of Loki was not a shapeshifting trick or a “variant” as it appears to be in the Disney+ series—it was Loki’s actual body, after the Asgardian was reborn alongside his fellow gods on Earth in the wake of Ragnarok. The character remained female for a while, joining Norman Osborn’s Cabal in the events of Dark Reign, but eventually returned to a masculine form after breaking away from Osborn in an attempt to bring Asgard back to its proper place within the Realms (Loki actually died in the attempt, being reborn as a new “Kid Loki,” because, well, it wouldn’t be comics if it wasn’t at least mildly confusing).

Illustration for article titled Loki Theories: Let's Hear Your Best and Your Worst

Screenshot: Marvel Studios

But while Di Martino certainly looks like a female Loki—she wears his classic golden horns, her costume is evocative of Loki’s original Thor/Avengers-era outfit in the MCU—and we’ve been told by the TVA that the Variant attacking their agents is the Loki of another timeline, Marvel fans are already wondering if all is not as it seems. While Di Martino is credited as “the Variant” in the English credits of the episode, fans took to Twitter after noticing that, in Disney+’s credits for the Castillian Spanish language dub of the episode, the character, voiced by Elisa Beuter, is credited as “Sylvie”… another name familiar to Loki fans in the comics, but, very crucially, not Loki themselves.

Illustration for article titled Loki Theories: Let's Hear Your Best and Your Worst

Screenshot: Marvel Studios

Around the time Asgardians were being reborn in human bodies after the cataclysmic events of Ragnarok, Loki decided to use their powers to give a human magical abilities—convincing them they were a reborn Asgardian themselves, essentially for shits and giggles. That human was Sylvie Lushton, a young high schooler from Broxton, Oklahoma (the then-current residing place of what was left of Asgard), who decided to use her abilities as the second incarnation of Asgardian mage Amora, better known as the Enchantress. Sylvie fought alongside the Young Avengers for a brief time as Enchantress, but was eventually shunned by them and turned to a life of villainy… until the actual Enchantress showed up very mad that someone was pretending to be her, and banished her to a random Realm as punishment, never to be seen again.

Advertisement

Sylvie alongside Wiccan on the cover of Dark Reign: Young Avengers #4.

Sylvie alongside Wiccan on the cover of Dark Reign: Young Avengers #4.
Image: Mark Brooks and Christina Strain/Marvel Comics

The credit spot aside, there is reason to believe that Di Martino’s variant may not be Loki even beyond that. She actively recoils at being referred to as such as she hops through people’s magically possessed bodies in her chat with Loki, and even her pointed line after revealing her true form to Loki (“This isn’t about you”) might indicate that she herself either may not be Loki or is at the very least uninterested in being seen as such. So is she really just Lady Loki, or is there more to her than she seems? Is “Sylvie” a knowing misnomer for diehard comics fans, or a slip up for another twist on top of Loki’s already considerable pile of twists? Sound off with your theories in the comments… until they get upturned all over again next week, probably.

Advertisement


For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.

Advertisement

Black Widow Had Some Surprising Influences

Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh are Widows on the run in Black Widow.

Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) and Yelena (Florence Pugh) are on the run.
Image: Marvel Studios

It’s sort of wild to think about, but after an extremely long and winding road, Black Widow is finally coming out in less than a month. This will be more than two years after the last Marvel movie, Avengers: Endgame, hit theaters, meaning people are going to flock to the film—but they might be surprised by what they see.

Advertisement

In an interview with Fandango, director Cate Shortland discussed the movies she watched before filming Black Widow, and it sounds like watching Marvel’s “Infinity Saga” was only part of the preparation: “First, we looked at things like No Country for Old Men. And then we looked at things like Thelma and Louise. And the Marvel film—people that have seen it have said it reminds them of it—[is] Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” But that’s not all. While Shortland didn’t get into more specific films, there were other inspirations: “I looked at a lot of combat films and a lot of stuff where we were looking at armies and militia. And then, I put females in those roles.”

The combat films make sense, but “armies and militia” is very curious. We know that Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) isn’t the only Black Widow, but is one of many assassins churned out by the Widow program. But I wouldn’t think they’d be considered an army, per se…unless the Widow program was borne out of an army of female soldiers sometime in the past? That could be pretty cool. Also cool: This Black Widow clip that Fandango also debuted.

As you can see two Widows are chasing our Black Widow and her partner Yelena (Florence Pugh). The action is frenetic to say the least—and, according to Shortland, this scene alone took over three weeks to shoot. Additionally, a small (very small) featurette dropped that showcases some more of the movie’s action scenes, which look just as compelling:

And here’s another tiny for you, featuring a very good look at film’s villain, the Taskmaster, to round everything out:

All three videos have dropped within the last few days. Hey, Marvel? We’re quite aware Black Widow is coming out next month and we’re quite excited about it. You can chill out a little.

In addition to Johansson and Pugh, Black Widow stars David Harbour as Red Guardian, Rachel Weisz as Melina, and even have an appearance by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, reportedly. It premieres on Disney+ July 9.


For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.

Marvel’s She-Hulk Adds Jameela Jamil as the Villain

Tahani (Jameela Jamil) holds an axe in a scene from NBC's The Good Place.

Jameela Jamil is going from The Good Place to the Marvel…place.
Photo: NBC

After the defeat of Thanos and restoration of half the the galaxy, the Marvel Universe seemed like a rather good place to live. So it’s fitting that a star from The Good Place is now on her way to stir shit up. Jameela Jamil, who played Tahani on the hit NBC show, is joining Marvel’s upcoming Disney+ series She-Hulk as its villain.

Advertisement

According to Variety, Jamil will play Titania. Real name Mary MacPherran, Titania was once a social outcast given the chance to gain super powers by Doctor Doom during the events of the original Secret Wars. Transformed into a giant, domineering woman with super strength and durability, Titania was recruited into Doom’s army of supervillains, and quickly made herself a rival to She-Hulk, kickstarting an on-again, off-again rivalry that’s lasted for decades of comics. Here, she’ll be in opposition to lawyer Jennifer Walters, played by Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany, who is a cousin of Bruce Banner and gains his Hulk powers. Mark Ruffalo is reprising his role as Banner on the show, which will also co-star Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton) and Ginger Gonzaga. Tim Roth will reprise his role as Abomination.

Jamil is an interesting choice to play a villain because in her real life, she’s anything but. She’s a strong feminist voice who regularly speaks out in public about a litany of important issues. Kind of like, we assume, She-Hulk will on the show. However, on The Good Place, her character was cunning in a bunch of unique ways. You never quite knew what she was thinking or up to, and she could jump all over the emotional spectrum. It’ll be very fun to see how evil she can get here, and what if any visual effects or costumes the series uses to bring Titania to life.

Jessica Gao is She-Hulk’s head writer and executive producer. She’s sharing those EP duties with Kat Coiro, who’ll also direct some episodes. The show is likely to hit Disney+ sometime next year along with Ms. Marvel and Moon Knight; the former started shooting earlier this year and the latter is gearing up for production.

How do you feel about bringing Titania in as the villain of She-Hulk? And do you think Jamil is the right choice for the part?


For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.

Advertisement

Patrick Stump’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends Theme Is a Web-Slinging Bop

Ms. Marvel, the Hulk, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man, Miles Morales, and Black Panther pose for a super-selfie in Spidey and His Amazing Friends.

Oh no, they’re cute.
Screenshot: Disney

Whether it’s the classic ‘60s bop, the ‘90s heavy metal guitar wails, or the pop-rock goodness of Spectacular Spider-Man, Peter Parker’s animated adventures have always had some pretty banging theme songs. His latest animated show, aimed at younger audiences, is no exception, thanks to Fall Out Boy vocalist Patrick Stump… and honestly a theme for a kid’s show shouldn’t go this hard??

Advertisement

Disney revealed Stump’s track for Spidey and His Amazing Friends this week, Disney Junior’s new CG animated Marvel series about, well, Spider-Man and his amazing friends. Alas, no Firestar or Iceman to be found here; instead the friends are fellow webslingers Gwen Stacy and Miles Morales, as well as a few more cutesy takes on Marvel heroes like Kamala Khan, Black Panther, and the Hulk, helping the spiders save the day from villains like Doc Ock, Green Goblin, and the Rhino.

It’s all very twee, and I’m sure the show will be fun for its audience of preschoolers, a market I have long since aged out of. The market I haven’t aged out of, however, is having every Fall Out Boy album burned into my brain and ears as an adolescent with a never-ending emo phase, alongside devouring page after page of Spider-Man comics. So there’s just something very specifically delightful about Stump singing “They’re your friendly neighborhood spiders/whoa-oh, go webs, go!” as Gwen, Pete, and Miles swing around saving the day.

Neither Stump nor Fall Out Boy are strangers to the pop culture theme space of course, having soundtracked the excellent “Night Begins to Shine” for Teen Titans Go!, or having done the, uh, distinctly less excellent riff on the classic Ghostbusters theme with Missy Elliot for the 2016 reboot of the franchise. Thankfully, this is much more closer in quality to the former than it is the latter, which means in spite of myself, I shall probably check in to watch a Marvel show aimed at five-year-olds when Spidey and His Amazing Friends hits Disney Channel and Disney Junior this summer, if only to bop along and do web-thwip poses like a responsible adult.


For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.

Updates From Indiana Jones 5, Dungeons & Dragons, and More

Harrison Ford returns as Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Indy’s back, back again.
Image: Lucasfilm

James Gunn’s full steam ahead on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Get a glimpse of a Cisco-Less Team Flash on The Flash. More Loki clips tease time weirdness and Owen Wilson’s Mobius. Plus, Space Jam: A New Legacy gets the ESPN treatment in the silliest way possible. Spoilers now!

Advertisement

Illustration for article titled Updates From Indiana Jones 5, Dungeons & Dragons, and More

Refuge

Bloody-Disgusting has word Jason Flemyng, Raza Jaffrey, Sophie Simnett, Johanna Harlin and Aston McAuley have joined the cast of Renny Harlin’s latest film, Refuge, in which “a U.S. military veteran returns home changed and dangerous after a tour of duty in Afghanistan where he suffered an attack by a mysterious force. While officials dismiss his behavior as PTSD, and order trauma therapy, Rick’s wife Kate discovers her husband has been possessed by a malevolent spirit.”


Abraham’s Boys

According to Deadline, Natasha Kermani (Lucky) will direct a feature adaptation of Joe Hill’s short story, Abraham’s Boys, for Tea Shop Productions. Though the original story followed Max and Rudy Van Helsing— the children of Abraham Van Helsing — as their father became increasingly more deranged, Kermani’s adaptation will “explore the boys’ trauma through the eyes of a young Asian woman who is no stranger to death.”


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

James Gunn is now storyboarding Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

Advertisement


Indiana Jones 5

The Daily Mail has a photo of a stuntman riding a motorcycle while wearing a (significantly younger-looking) Harrison Ford mask from the set of Indiana Jones 5.

Advertisement


Dungeons & Dragons

Meanwhile, set the first set photos from the new Dungeons & Dragons movie have surfaced. Check them out here, here, and here.

Advertisement


Disenchanted

Director Adam Shankman also has a new crew photo from the set of Disenchanted.

The best part of my job? Being able to employ 75 dancers for a @disneystudios @disneyplus movie and watching them rehearse their masked faces off. My heart swooned watching them all dance. I can’t wait to share their beautiful work #Disenchanted

And yes. I’m the guy in the air. Like usual.

Advertisement


Space Jam: A New Legacy

ESPN has produced a tie-in 30 for 30 documentary about the time LeBron James had to team up with the Looney Tunes to rescue his son from another dimension.


The Nest

Meanwhile, a teddy bear houses some sort of mutant whip scorpion (!) in the trailer for The Nest.


The Flash

Comic Book has photos from “Masquerade” — the June 15 episode of The Flash. More at the link.

Advertisement

Illustration for article titled Updates From Indiana Jones 5, Dungeons & Dragons, and More

Photo: The CW

Illustration for article titled Updates From Indiana Jones 5, Dungeons & Dragons, and More

Photo: The CW

Advertisement


Loki

Owen Wilson discusses joining the MCU in a new featurette.

We also have two additional Loki clips.


Vikings: Valhalla

Netflix has a new behind-the-scenes promo for its upcoming Vikings spinoff, Valhalla.

Advertisement


Motherland: Fort Salem

Finally, Motherland: Fort Salem returns for a second season June 22.


Banner art by Jim Cook

Advertisement

Updates From Doctor Strange 2, Loki, and More

Doctor Strange, Thor, and Loki meet in at Strange's Sanctum in Thor: Ragnarok.

Doctor Strange and Loki being suitably snippy at each other.
Image: Marvel Studios

The Toxic Avenger may have found its villain. Get a glimpse of Diggle’s return on Batwoman. Filming beings on Evil Dead Rise. Plus, new clips from Luca, and what’s to come on Legends of Tomorrow. To me, my spoilers!

Advertisement

Illustration for article titled Updates From Doctor Strange 2, Loki, and More

The Toxic Avenger

According to a new report from The Illuminerdi, Elijah Wood has been cast as Bob Garbinger, the lead villain of the Toxic Avenger remake. The character is described as a man with “leonine hair and eerie plastic surgery” aged 40-50 who is the “evil head of the shady company, Garb X. He has no regard for the well being of anyone but himself and embarks on a murderous spree to become as powerful as Toxie. His ego is bolstered by his standing amongst the towns official but in reality he lives in fear of the underworld gang he’s indebted to.”


John Wick: Chapter 4

According to Deadline, Shamier Anderson is the latest to join the cast of John Wick: Chapter 4 in an undisclosed role.


Firestarter

Deadline also has word Mr. Robot’s Gloria Reuben will have a “leading role” in Blumhouse’s Firestarter remake.

Advertisement


Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

During a recent interview with Vanity Fair, writer Michael Waldron described Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as being “very Sam Raimi.”

I can tell you that it’s a ride…very Sam Raimi. The film is incredibly visually thrilling. John Mathieson, our D.P., who shot Gladiator and Logan—I think the look of it is going to be unlike anything you’ve seen in the MCU before.

Advertisement


Evil Dead Rise

Production has officially begun on Evil Dead Rise in New Zealand.

Advertisement


Black Widow

Yelena mocks Natasha’s signature hair flip in a new clip from Black Widow.


Luca

Pixar has released a new Luca clip and featurette.


The Time Traveler’s Wife

Deadline additionally reports Caitlin Shorey, Everleigh McDonell, Michael Park, Jaime Ray Newman, Taylor Richardson, Peter Graham, Brian Altemus, Jason David, Kate Siegel, Josh Stamberg, Chelsea Frei, Marcia DeBonis, Will Brill and Spencer House have joined the cast of The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Advertisement


Doom Patrol

Filming has officially wrapped on the third season of Doom Patrol.

Advertisement


Loki

Get a glimpse of Loki’s TVA file in a new Twitter tease.

Advertisement

Relatedly, Disney+ and Marvel have released three more Loki TV spots.


Fear the Walking Dead

Lennie James discusses next week’s sixth season finale of Fear the Walking Dead in a new trailer.


Batwoman

David Ramsey’s Diggle pays Batwoman a visit in the trailer for next week’s episode, “Rebirth.


Legends of Tomorrow

Finally, Amelia Earhart is committed to Shady Acresthe fictional mental hospital from Ace Ventura: Pet Detectivein the trailer for next week’s episode of Legends of Tomorrow.


Banner art by Jim Cook

Advertisement

Into the Spider-Verse 2 Recruits Issa Rae as Spider-Woman

Issa Rae, seen here in 2020, is joining the Spider-Verse.

Issa Rae, seen here in 2020, is joining the Spider-Verse.
Photo: Rich Polk/ESSENCE (Getty Images)

We don’t know what the sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is actually going to be called yet, but its first new cast member has just been revealed. It’s Issa Rae, best known for creating and starring in the HBO show Insecure, who’ll be voicing Jessica Drew, aka, Spider-Woman. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news.

Advertisement

Spider-Verse 2, directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson, is expected to bring back most of the cast and characters from the first film but Spider-Woman’s addition adds a whole new dimension to it. In the comics, Drew is a former Agent of SHIELD who’s not really a “Spider” hero in the way the characters from the first film like Peni Parker, Spider-Noir, or Spider-Ham are. Infamously originally created just so Marvel could avoid rivals capitalizing on Peter Parker’s success with a female Spider-Man, Jess has had multiple origins over the years—but they all mostly revolve around her not being bitten by a radioactive spider. Instead being affected by spider-blood or through radiation in the womb. That then alters her DNA, giving her not-dissimilar spider powers, like bioelectric venom blasts and energy projection, pheromone manipulation, and wallcrawling. She’s usually a spy for various Marvel organizations, including SHIELD, as much as she is a frontline Avenger.

Which way the movie decides to go with her remains to be seen. In fact, everything with the movie remains to be seen. But you don’t cast Issa Rae as Spider-Woman without the role being significant—especially as she was expected to appear in the previously detailed Spider-Gwen spinoff alongside fellow spider-heroine Silk. We hope this is just the first piece of casting news to come from this highly anticipated project. Written by Phil Lord, Chris Miller, and David Callaham, the sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is scheduled for release October 7, 2022.


For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom. 

X-Men’s Hellfire Gala Is Already a Scandal, Surprising No One

An image from Marvel's Marauders #21 featuring Conan O'Brien, Emma Frost, Rogue, Doctor Strange, and more at the Hellfire Gala.

Emma Frost making sure everyone gets a good look at her second look of the evening before she changes again.
Image: Matto Lolli, Edgar Delgado, Cory Petit/Marvel

After weeks of hype-building, the X-Men’s 2021 Hellfire Gala kicked off this week in the pages of Marvel’s ongoing Hellions, Marauders, and X-Force series. Unsurprisingly, the extravagant mutant gathering is already threatening to upend the delicate balance of power keeping humanity from going to war with Krakoa. Let it be said, though, that everyone arrived to the party looking absolutely stunning.

Advertisement

Hellions #12, from writer Zeb Wells, and artists Steven Segovia and David Curiel; Marauders #21, from writers Gerry Duggan, Chris Claremont, and artists Matteo Lolli and John Bolton; and X-Force #20, from writer Benjamin Percy and artist Joshua Cassara, begin the Hellfire Gala event as the X-Men open Krakoa’s gates for the first time to a select few non-mutant celebrity guests invited to fete mutantdom’s ascendance. Organized by Emma Frost, the Hellfire Gala’s billed to the public as a fashion-forward celebration and chance for superhuman schmoozing between heroes and (former) villains willing to set their differences aside in the name of nation-building. What becomes clear in Marauders #21, though, is that while there are many delights to be found at the Gala, the event, much like the X-Men as of late, isn’t exactly what it seems.

After many of the guests arrive thanks to temporary access granted to them by special flowers, they’re called into one of the party’s gathering rooms for a unique musical performance by the mutant Rhapsody, Jean Grey, and Emma Frost’s cloned quintuplets, the Five-In-One. By linking their seven minds together, the performing mutants are able to create a psychic light show. It allows the audience to not only hear the music emanating from Rhapsody’s instrument, but to feel what it’s like to play the tune with her deep understanding of music. The spectacle of it is a beautiful display of the kinds of art that can be borne of mutant talents, and the X-Men’s newfound fondness of using their powers in concert with one another. But Doctor Doom’s demeanor as the Gala’s human guests “ooh” and “ahh” draws attention to how frankly unsettling the X-Men’s actions have been as of late.

Illustration for article titled X-Men's Hellfire Gala Is Already a Scandal, Surprising No One

Image: Matto Lolli, Edgar Delgado, Cory Petit/Marvel

There’s nothing overtly malicious about much of what’s put on display in the Hellfire Gala’s opening acts, but a number of characters like Captain America and Iron Man—both of whom have fought the X-Men on multiple occasions—are quick to point out how unsettling the event is because of the sheer amount of power concentrated there. This isn’t a new reality about the X-Men, who have always been beings with outsized super abilities, but the observations have a different gravity to them in this Dawn of X era where Charles Xavier and his cult-like following have begun devising ways to do things like cheat death.

The Hellfire Gala is a celebration of the X-Men’s greatness, but it also highlights how the X-Men have become a different kind of body as they’ve worked to establish Krakoa as a nation on the world stage. Hellions #12, Marauders #21, and X-Force #2o all touch upon how the presence of so many telepaths on Krakoa means that there’s a certain degree of privacy that’s given up while on the island. Though the Five-In-One and Jean’s telepathic projection might have seemed invasive to guests who weren’t expecting it, it’s likely they’d be much more concerned about Quentin Quire and Sage’s surveillance if they were fully aware of it. Though none of these concerns have yet been articulated on the page, seasoned heroes like Captain America and Iron Man have sense enough to know that altruistic as the X-Men’s intentions may be, their ambition makes them formidable. What has the potential to make the Hellfire Gala dangerous, though, is that many of the power players aren’t exactly on the same page.

The Five-In-One deciding to reveal the truth to a guest.

The Five-In-One deciding to reveal the truth to a guest.
Image: Matto Lolli, Edgar Delgado, Cory Petit/Marvel

Advertisement

While most X-Men in good standing spend the night on the dance floor and socializing, Sage and the rest of X-Force monitor the function to keep tabs on those invited and to signal the alarm in the event of danger. As in control as Emma is of most everything at the Gala, X-Force #20 introduces a very interesting twist of events as Sage and Beast proceed with a plan to bug a number of unsuspecting human dignitaries from the countries bordering the Central American country Terra Verde. Back in X-Force #10, innocent humans living in Terra Verde lost their lives as a direct consequence of an underhanded decision Beast made and concealed from the rest of X-Force, one that ultimately led to Jean Grey leaving the team after beating Beast into the ground for what he did.

Beast’s tendency toward letting his intellectual hubris blind him to his moral failings isn’t new, but X-Force #20 underlines how the scientist still refuses to learn from his mistakes, even when they’re the kind that have people on high alert about his behavior. By shifting into her organic diamond form after taking note of a handful of suspicious things, Emma briefly leaves the festivities to get the jump on Sage, whose telepathy can’t detect her presence when she’s in that state. Like Beast, Sage’s mind has always been what made her truly gifted, and Emma knows well enough that trying to wrest the truth out of her psychically would likely be more difficult. Instead, Emma plays a much more traditional mind game of very gently threatening Sage with her gleaming physical presence. She insists to her fellow mutant that Beast will be the only person held responsible for almost jeopardizing everything the X-Men have been trying to build with Krakoa. Were humanity to learn that the X-Men were actively spying on them, it would undercut all of the goodwill the team’s been fighting to build as part of its larger “rebranding” in the public eye. Espionage is not a Krakoan innovation, but the mutants being caught trying to stack the deck in their favor would confirm many people’s fears about the danger Krakoa poses to non-mutant nations.

Advertisement

Emma Frost confronting Sage.

Emma Frost confronting Sage.
Image: Joshua Cassara

All of this is likely very apparent to Sage, which makes the tidiness of how Emma “catches” her feel like just a prelude for more drama that’s to come down the line. What none of the mutants could have anticipated, however, was that Beast’s telefloronic spying devices might backfire and transform the bugged humans into plant monsters. Ordinarily, this sort of mishap could be attributed to an untrained mutants’ powers going haywire per se during an open house. But within the setting of the Hellfire Gala, Beast’s latest mistake has the potential to completely derail Krakoa’s ascendance as a country and tear the X-Men apart.

Advertisement

What’s wild to consider is that the Hellfire Gala event’s only just begun, and many of the X-Men’s most interesting players have yet to make their proper entrances. Helions #12, Marauders #21, and X-Force #20 are on sale now.


For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom

Advertisement

Black Widow Offers One Last Peek Before the Movie Finally Comes Out

Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff Outruns an Explosion in Black Widow.

The cool part is Black Widow isn’t running from the explosion so much as she has somewhere else to go.
Screenshot: Marvel Studios

It’s been a long, long time since we got our first look at Marvel’s long, long-awaited Black Widow movie. How long? Well, the first teaser trailer came out on December 2, 2019. But now that it’s currently scheduled to premiere next month, we’ve received one final look before we (hopefully) get to see the dang thing.

Look, we’ve been getting smatterings of Black Widow footage for a full year and a half, so I cannot possibly remember if everything we see in this “special look” is new. However, based on my faulty memory, the majority of it feels new, including David Harbour’s lovable Red Guardian tossing a shield like a certain American captain, several clips of the Taskmaster on the attack, Florence Pugh’s Yelena attacking a Russian military base with a rocket launcher, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow escaping an explosion, and more. Feel free to point anything else new or tell me I’m wrong in the comments (we both know you were going to do the latter anyway).

Advertisement

Either way, it all looks good… just as the movie has for the last year and a half. Only one more month to go, as Black Widow premieres on July 9, 2021. (Hopefully.)


For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom

Disney’s Avengers Theme Park Is Nerdy in the Mighty Marvel Manner

The Walt Disney Company’s latest theme park creation opens Friday at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, California and every corner of it is filled with winks and nods to all things Marvel. But the film, TV, and theme park giant’s new “Avengers Campus” won me over when I saw the Lego Death Star.

Fans will remember that in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and Ned (Jacob Batalon) built a giant Star Wars Lego set of the famous Death Star. In Avengers Campus, it’s sitting in the workshop holding area for Web-Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure, one of the park’s brand new interactive attractions. Web-Slingers is without a doubt the highlight of the new land that, frankly, is pretty dang small. But the Disneyland Resort (which includes Disneyland itself and California Adventure, which holds the Marvel land) has used the limited space incredibly well, packing it with non-stop reminders of why we love Marvel so much, just like that Lego Death Star. On Wednesday, io9 attended a media preview of Avengers Campus, which included free entry to only that section of the park. For three hours, the Campus was our oyster, and we enjoyed as many rides, live experiences, and food as we could. Here’s how it went down.


What are the rides at Avengers Campus?

The pre-show for Web-Slingers. It’s very dark but if you look above the film canisters to your left, Spider-Man’s right, you see the Death Star.

The pre-show for Web-Slingers. It’s very dark but if you look above the film canisters to your left, Spider-Man’s right, you see the Death Star.
Photo: Disney Parks

Officially, Avengers Campus is opening this week with two rides. There’s the aforementioned new Web-Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure and then Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. However, the Guardians ride has been open at the park since 2017 (it took over Tower of Terror)—so for most fans, it’s been there, done that. You can read much more about that admittedly awesome ride at this link. The main reason Disney fans will flock to Avengers Campus starting this week (hopefully following all covid safety measures) is Web-Slingers and we think it’s worth the wait. The basic story is that Peter Parker (played by Holland, who reprises the role in the ride via voice and video) and a team of students working at a place called Worldwide Engineering Brigade (referred to as W.E.B) have created a few cool new pieces of technology. One of them is tiny Spider-Bots that can self-replicate, which of course quickly gets out of hand as the Bots begin to take over all of Avengers Campus. It’s up to Spider-Man, and you, to stop it.

You do so by shooting webs at the Bots on giant screens—it’s sort of like a virtual, interactive shooter game; for every Bot you hit with your webs, you rack up points. If you’ve been to a Disney theme park before, basically this is like a super high-tech Toy Story Midway Mania (which, it’s important to note, is my favorite Disney ride so I might be a tad biased here). Some robots are worth more points, and there are all kinds of cool different mechanics you can activate and new animations to unlock. Over the course of four different areas, the onslaught of bots only gets more overwhelming. Each ride vehicle has eight seats, four on each side, and it moves along a track stopping four times for four different areas of carnage. What’s truly awesome, though, is each stop is a major area of Avengers Campus, so it really feels like you’re playing a role in the entire space. You start in the W.E.B. labs, then move to the Pym kitchen, then the Guardians of the Galaxy ride, and, finally, outside in the park, right next to the large Avengers HQ building and its Quinjet. The ride basically just does a virtual circle around the park, fighting Spider-Bots.

You shoot webs with your real arms using motion capture technology.

You shoot webs with your real arms using motion capture technology.
Photo: Disney Parks

“But how do you shoot webs?” you might be asking. That’s the best part. You don’t sling webs with a gun or anything, and you don’t even need a Web Shooter (though you can buy one in the gift shop which makes it easier and, as a result, your score higher), you fling webs just by moving your arms. Disney has developed a new motion detection technology that allows you to just flick your hands like Spider-Man and shoot webs. And it works really well. I was fortunate enough to ride Web-Slingers three times and got higher scores each time, mostly because I figured out how to shoot faster and more accurately with every ride. Every time you go back, odds are you’ll be very excited to try it again. But note: when it opens, guests will only be able to ride once daily via a virtual queue system. Details can be found here.)

Here are the downsides: the ride seems short. I would have loved to spend another 15-20 seconds in each room, exploring all the places Spider-Bots are hiding. This might be because Disney is basically forcing you to exercise as entertainment—if you are really going all out with your web-slinging, your arms will get tired. (It should be noted that like most of Disney’s interactive rides, this one may be difficult for folks with disabilities.) I’m definitely down for more though to try and build up a rhythm and a strategy because there’s so much variety and opportunity in each room. One time you’ll pull down a ledge. Another time, you’ll make a pipe explode. It’s also true that you can kind of cheat with the Web Tech add-ons (Read more about those here). But, on the leaderboards posted on the way out, it lets you know which scores were achieved with Web Tech and which weren’t, so you’ll know how you stack up. In the end, Web-Slingers is pure sensory overload and a lot of fun. It’s leaps and bounds better than Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run over in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge (but not Rise of the Resistance), just because here you truly feel like you’ll be able to see, do, and achieve new things every single time you ride.


What live experiences are available at Avengers Campus?

The Dora Milaje take command at the center of campus.

The Dora Milaje take command at the center of campus.
Photo: Disney Parks

Since there’s only the one new ride in Avengers Campus, the bulk of what you can do there is… not that. The next biggest component is live entertainment experiences, areas you can watch and interact with members of the Marvel Universe. On our visit, three such experiences were available, though videos released by Disney have revealed that even more characters and experiences might be coming in the future (one includes Taskmaster from Black Widow fighting Natasha and Black Panther, for example). The first we experienced was Okoye and two other members of the Dora Milaje giving a recruitment demonstration. You know they’re coming because Ludwig Goransson’s Oscar-winning score to Black Panther begins blaring over the speakers and the Dora enter from almost all the way across the space. They walk through the crowd, stopping outside the large Avengers HQ building. During the roughly 10-minute performance, we’re shown some cool battle moves, participate in traditional Wakandan chants, and are regaled with tales of inspiration. It’s one of those “If no one volunteers it’s going to get weird” scenarios but the actors rolled with it and made it work.

This photo looks like a Hot Toys figure but it’s actually the park’s Doctor Strange.

This photo looks like a Hot Toys figure but it’s actually the park’s Doctor Strange.
Photo: Disney Parks

Next, we headed over to the Ancient Sanctum, a small section of the Campus dedicated to the mystic arts. There, Doctor Strange emerges from a portal and an encounter with Dormammu (both of which are seen on a large screen). He’s looking for help from people who will have talents using the mystic arts, which really means: get ready for a Marvel-themed magic show. Strange makes things disappear, change shape, move without his hands, and even time travel, if you can believe it, all of which is very entertaining. There’s crowd interaction here too, though not as much as with the Wakandans, and the show ends with Strange saving the world and sending everyone on their way.

The last big set piece in the land was a demonstration by Spider-Man. Up on a tall platform above his ride, Spidey does a few flips and spins before trying out some new tech that’ll allow him to jump very high. At which point the live Spider-Man disappears and a newly designed creation by Disney flies through the air high above Avengers Campus. Once it lands, the live Spider-Man comes back, attaches to a wire, and crawls down the wall before taking photos with the crowds. All of this takes under five minutes but it’s as crowd-pleasing and as exciting as both of the other events.

You’ll believe a Spider-Man can fly.

You’ll believe a Spider-Man can fly.
Photo: Disney Parks

To some, this might seem like a waste of space but in reality, it’s all very versatile. While I was walking around, I also saw Black Widow patrolling on the walkway of Avengers HQ. She saluted me when I waved. At other times, Ant-Man and the Wasp might be there, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Thor, you name it. Are any of these experiences mind-blowing? No. But it adds a really nice level of immersion to see the characters in the flesh, doing what they do best. The fact all the music and costumes look straight out of the MCU movies helps a lot too. Kids especially will eat this stuff up. Oh, speaking of which…


What kind of food can you eat at Avengers Campus?

For after defeating an army of aliens.

For after defeating an army of aliens.
Photo: Disney Parks

Avengers Campus wouldn’t be a proper theme park if you couldn’t eat and drink there. If you’re just on the run, multiple “Shawarma Palace” stands exist around the land, allowing you to try Tony Stark and the Avengers’ unforgettable post-victory meal (I had a “New York’s Tastiest” which is the meat version and it was fine, but nothing to get overly excited about.) There’s also something called Terran Treats, which wasn’t open. If you have some time though, Pym’s Test Kitchen is where it’s at. The story behind it is that Hank Pym and his crew (Scott Lang, Hope Van Dyne, etc) are using their shrinking and enlargement tech on food resulting in some really weird, different types of thing. You can look at the full menu here, but since I’m only one person and I’d already had a few bites of shawarma, I decided to sample only two things: the “Not So Little Chicken Sandwich” and the “Pym-ini.” And my god, were they both delicious.

The Not So Little Chicken Sandwich

The Not So Little Chicken Sandwich
Photo: Disney Parks

As you can see in the ridiculous image above, the chicken sandwich is basically a huge piece of fried chicken on a slider bun to make it appear as if some Pym tech is at work. You eat it with a fork and knife and it’s just a really well seasoned, tasty, piece of chicken with some sauces on it. Then, if you make it to the middle, you can finish it as a traditional slider. The Pym-ini has gotten a lot of press of late because it’s also available as the “Family Size Pym-ini” which costs $100. But that feeds up to eight people and if you were to buy separate meals for that large a group, $100 would probably be a bargain. The delectable sandwich has salami, ham, and provolone, with a sun-dried tomato spread on toasted focaccia, and comes with an awesome marinara dipping sauce and arugula salad too. It’s a legit great meal, with all kinds of flavors and spices—and that’s just a sample of the full menu you can see here.

Pym’s Tasting Lab—a bar—wasn’t open to us, but it will have cocktails, multiple beers on tap, snacks, you name it. Plus, in a wink to the way Doctor Strange served Thor his beer in Thor: Ragnarok, some of the beers fill from the bottom up. It sounds cool. Again, much like Web-Slingers, the food options of Avengers Campus made me want to go back just for them. Sure I’ve already tried a few items, but what about the big pretzel? The different sodas? All of the booze? I can’t wait. Nothing blew me away like a Galaxy’s Edge Ronto Wrap but it was still all really delicious.


What do I need to know when visiting Avengers Campus?

Avengers HQ, complete with Quinjet, is more of a set than anything right now. That could change in the future.

Avengers HQ, complete with Quinjet, is more of a set than anything right now. That could change in the future.
Photo: Disney Parks

Basically? That’s it. Not including Mission Breakout, Avengers Campus is one ride, one big restaurant, a store, a few shows, and food stands. If you wanted to do all of it, without crowds, you could cover it in probably two hours as I did. (Which, we know, is likely to never ever happen.) But even in that time, you’d never be able to see everything—like the Lego Death Star, which I just happened to spot by chance. Web-Slingers is filled with other cool stuff including joke-filled whiteboards, graffiti-covered lockers, a Mary Jane skateboard, you name it. I also noticed a few of the screens outside Pym’s kept getting text messages from multiple Marvel characters (“Hey buddy! Can you please do me a favor this one last time and pick up my mobile order? Thanks” read a text from Bruce Banner that popped up on the screen. I saw one from Korg too). All the rock formations around the area have mysterious crystals in them, and of course, who knows what Avengers you’ll see walking around and what they may say or do.

This is Marvel though so there are two questions every fan has about everything the company puts its name on: how does this fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and what’s coming next? Don’t worry, there’s plenty of corporate synergy to be had. Asked during a Q&A session about when during the MCU timeline Avengers Campus takes place, Executive Creative Director of Walt Disney Imagineering Brent Strong said the following: “The mission to inspire and empower the next generation of heroes is so important that we’ve assembled heroes from across all of space and time. And as we’re all about to discover in a couple weeks when Loki comes out, time is a lot more squishy than a lot of us think. So trying to put a specific date to it can be challenging but, to us, Avengers Campus is here and now. We get to live in the moment and these heroes are here with us taking part in that story.” That’s a long way to basically say the characters die in the comics all the time and the company didn’t want to make a land where Iron Man, Black Widow, and Captain America are dead. It’s sort of what Marvel said when Mission Breakout opened in 2017. Same character. Unique universe.

Black Widow keeping an eye on things from Avengers HQ.

Black Widow keeping an eye on things from Avengers HQ.
Photo: Disney Parks

As for what’s next, a few things were teased. Other Campuses will be popping up at Disney’s parks across the world, adding to this story of recruitment. We know a new big attraction will be added in the future, which will have the other Avengers in it, but no update was given. Also, as new characters are added to the MCU, they could also appear at Avengers Campus (no names were given but I instantly thought Eternals, and Shang-Chi himself, Simu Liu, appeared as a tease in a promo video). Disney has “baked in” flexibility, according to Scot Drake, Portfolio Creative Executive at Walt Disney Imagineering. That’s all very exciting—but also, the land as it stands now is rather lovely. It’s small, there’s not a lot to do, but everything is handled with such care for the characters, the world, and the storytelling that even if you drop by for one bite to eat, to see one hero walking around, or shoot down one Spider-Bot, you’d feel like you had a successful day at the park. It doesn’t quite reach the levels of detail or immersion you can get at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, but it’s a great start.


What kind of merchandise is available? What kind of alcohol?

The two park exclusive Funko Pops.

The two park exclusive Funko Pops.
Photo: Disney Parks

  • One thing I really didn’t get into too much was merch because I didn’t really buy any. (OK fine, one park exclusive Spider-Man Funko Pop but that’s it.) Most of the new items are geared either towards Spider-Man and the Web-Slingers ride, or Avengers Campus itself. The one standout (besides the Funkos) are the Spider-Bots, which come in multiple sizes, but those were revealed a while ago.
  • Unlike Galaxy’s Edge, none of the beers in Avengers Campus are exclusive to Avengers Campus. The cocktails, however, are: the Honey Buzz (gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup with a honey straw), the X-Periment (tequila, Minute Maid lime juice, and mango and habanero syrups with mango popping pearls), and the Molecular Meltdown (marshmallow milk stout and vanilla ice cream topped with miniature marshmallows).
  • During the Q&A, Drake said that Avengers: Endgame contains a tease of the Quinjet that stands at the top of Avengers HQ. Maybe the universes are more connected after all…

Avengers Campus opens at Disney California Adventure on June 4. If you’d like to go sooner rather than later, visit Disney’s site to read its up-to-the-minute covid-19 protocols and breakdowns on how to get tickets, make reservations, and more.


For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.