Godzilla vs. Megalon Might Be a Mess, But It Kind of Knows It

Jet Jaguar and Godzilla exchange a friendly handshake in 1973's Godzilla vs. Megalon.

Now that’s teamwork.
Screenshot: Toho

In just a few more weeks, Godzilla Singular Point is finally hitting Netflix, and that means we’re getting a brand new version of one of our favorite super robot pals, Jet Jaguar. To celebrate, we’re looking back at his origin story in Godzilla vs. Megalon, and finding a movie that is, for better or worse, the embodiment of the dumb-fun monster movie.

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Treating monster films as nothing but dumb schlock that’s all big silly fights and nothing beneath the surface is nothing new. From the genre’s origins all the way up to western hits like this year’s Godzilla vs. Kong, there’s always going to be a place for a monster movie that trades depth—or in some cases even logical coherence—for the wide-eyed spectacle of monster-on-monster action. Who needs brainpower when you can have cities being leveled by larger-than-life titans, anyway? Godzilla’s cinematic career is no exception to this, of course, but 1973’s Godzilla vs Megalon might be the ultimate example of a film that rides or dies on how much you can appreciate some giant-sized shenanigans and gleeful silliness over any semblance of seriousness.

A film that feels almost in equal parts embraced (especially for its special guest star and its final fight sequence) and reviled (for its lackluster plot, over-reliance on reused footage, and its absurdist elements) by the big G’s fandoms in the years since, Godzilla vs. Megalon really is the kind of film to know your expectations for going in. It never presents itself as trying to be more than the sum of its parts (parts that are, admittedly, stretched to breaking at times), but if you go in expecting the franchise to say something about the world like its greatest entries are capable of doing, well, what you’re going to find here is instead something more on the lines of “What if Godzilla dropkicked a fool, and it was so nice he did it twice?”

Godzilla vs Megalon’s threadbare plot mostly pulls us away from Godzilla as a focus. After their underwater civilization is ravaged by humanity’s nuclear testing—the same tests that gave us the King of the Monsters in the first place—the vengeful Seatopians, lead by Emperor Antonio (Robert Dunham), unleash their monstrous god Megalon to destroy the surface world. While Godzilla and his pals on Monster Island are sidelined by shockwaves from a recent nuclear test, the Seatopians target a Japanese inventor named Goro Ibuki (Katsuhiko Sasaki). They want to use Ibuki’s latest invention, a humanoid robot named Jet Jaguar, to control Megalon’s path of destruction on Earth. As Goro and his assistants wrestle with captivity to regain control of Jet Jaguar—and the JSDF struggles to stop Megalon’s assault on Tokyo—eventually, Goro succeeds and uses Jet Jaguar’s control system to get the robot to call Godzilla for help. After Jet Jaguar inexplicably gets his Ultraman on and grows to monstrous size, the robot and the King of the Monsters team up to tag-team brawl both Megalon and Godzilla’s then-recent rival, Gigan (mostly via footage reused from 1972’s Godzilla vs Gigan).

That’s… it, really. Godzilla vs Megalon just doesn’t really have much going on to justify its already pretty threadbare 80-minute runtime, as it flits about between the unconvincing threat of the Seatopians and Goro’s attempts to break free of their captivity to regain access to Jet Jaguar. The focus on Jet Jaguar—infamously created as part of a children’s contest by production studio Toho to design a new monster for the franchise—makes the movie feel less like a Godzilla film and more of a pastiche of Ultraman’s greatest hits. As much fun as the robot is, it’s hard not to have it feel like it’s almost out of place for what Godzilla was at this point in his history, well into his arc of evolution from monstrous, horrifying threat to one of Japan’s biggest heroes. Even then, the film struggles with what it wants to do with Jet Jaguar when it brushes up against the liberal re-use of prior footage, as production buckles under the intense asks of Godzilla’s resurgence in the cultural conscience post-King Kong vs Godzilla.

And yet, when you put aside the bits of Godzilla vs. Megalon that don’t quite gel (which is, admittedly, quite a significant chunk) there is still something there, deeply primal in its base simplicity, that makes elements of it charming. The last fight between Jet Jaguar, Godzilla, Gigan, and Megalon is a messy delight, and the first time the film feels like it actually has any kind of kinetic energy to it after its meandering build-up. Even if you put the infamous dropkick aside—in which Jet Jaguar pins Megalon so Godzilla can slide in on his tail like he’s spitting in the face of whatever god physics answers to in order to deliver a two-footed kick right to its chest—it’s a wonderful bit of monster-on-robot-on-monster action. After making 80 minutes feel more like 120, it feels like Godzilla vs. Megalon finally just goes “Well, you like the fights, don’t you?” The movie never aimed higher, and at least it delivers.

Whether the legacy it left on the franchise in this regard—the perception of the monster movie genre as nothing more than shock and awe, and silly rubber suits smashing against each other—has been an entirely positive thing is a different question altogether. On the one hand, Godzilla vs. Megalon’s cultural cache in the years since means monster movies, Godzilla or otherwise, always face that uphill battle of whether or not they want to be more than spectacle. On the other, it’s a reminder that franchises as big as this, as varied as this, have space to sometimes just go for the cheap thrills that make blockbusters the joy they are. No matter how you feel about Godzilla vs Megalon’s flimsiness, or Jet Jaguar’s bizarre origin in its threadbare roots, there is something satisfying about a giant robot and the King of all Kaiju shaking hands after a job’s well done and calling it a day, no matter how serious you take your monster movies.

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This Interactive Map Shows Just How Awful America’s Internet Is

A map of the U.S. covered in red. The red areas are communities with median broadband speeds below the FFC's recommended benchmark.

Screenshot: NTIA/Gizmodo

Today the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released an interactive map illustrating who doesn’t have access to the FCC’s recommended minimum broadband speeds. Folks, look above: It’s all the red areas.

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The “Indicators of Broadband Need” tool lets you apply different filters to a U.S. map based on aggregated data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the FCC, internet speed-testing companies M-Lab and Ookla, and Microsoft. The highlighted areas are those with median broadband speeds below the FCC’s recommended benchmark speeds of 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload—a standard that many consider to be outdated in the modern area. If you want to feel particularly depressed about the state of infrastructure in this country, you can also toggle on filters to see where underserved areas overlap with high levels of poverty, tribal lands, and communities where more than 25% of households do not have access to broadband, computers, smartphones, or tablets. Having tried all of them, rest assured there’s no scenario where broadband access in the U.S. looks good.

“Broadband is no longer nice to have. It’s need to have. To ensure that every household has the internet access necessary for success in the digital age, we need better ways to accurately measure where high-speed service has reached Americans and where it has not,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in an NTIA press release.

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A map of the US showing the overlap between areas where the median speed is below 25/3 Mbps and where 20% or more live below the poverty line.

The pink areas are areas with high levels of poverty. The outline black areas are tribal lands. And, as we noted, the red areas are where the median broadband speeds are below 25/3 Mbps.
Screenshot: NTIA/Gizmodo

The pandemic underscored the importance of fast broadband. According to Pew Research, 53% of Americans said the internet was “essential” during the pandemic for remote work and online learning. The reality is the pandemic shed light on the millions who didn’t have adequate or affordable access to the internet. You’d think that would inspire some legislative initiative. And it has—just not in the way you’d hope, particularly with regard to municipal broadband.

Municipal broadband has been touted as a way to ease the digital divide by providing fast and cheap internet as a public utility. Its detractors, however, argue that it’s an inappropriate use of public funding and that taxpayers get saddled with the cost of maintaining service. In February, House Republicans introduced a bill that would prevent cities nationwide from establishing their own networks if they were in an area served by more than one commercial ISP. Meanwhile, in Ohio, Republicans are pushing to ban municipal broadband for roughly 98% of the state. The amendment in question defines broadband access as 10 Mbps downloads and 1 Mbps uploads—well below the FCC’s benchmark. While those speeds might suffice for casual web browsing for a household of one person, it’s not enough for smooth group Zooms or streaming Netflix.

A zoomed in view of areas in Ohio with inadequate broadband speeds and high levels of poverty.

Seems like a lot of overlap.
Screenshot: NTIA/Gizmodo

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Using the NTIA’s map, you can see there’s plenty of counties in Ohio that fall below the 25/3 Mbps standard, and that many of those areas also happen to be in communities where 20% or more of households are below the poverty line. One might say municipal broadband might be a good solution for those folks.

As grim as this looks, all is not completely lost. As part of the American Jobs Plan, President Biden has proposed a $100 billion investment to bring “affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to every American.” But the bill is facing strong opposition from some lawmakers and lobbyists who say it’s bad for competition. The FCC also announced in October that it was planning to set aside $9 billion over the next decade to fund 5G wireless broadband expansion in rural America—though the FCC’s inaccurate service maps are a major hurdle. Others have floated the idea of satellite internet services like Starlink as a potential solution, though that’s also unlikely to bridge the digital divide. OK, so maybe it is pretty grim.

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Aardman Teams With Netflix for a Truly Adorable Holiday Special

Bronte Carmichael voices titular hero Robin in Netflix and Shaun the Sheep Studio Aardman Animation's new festive movie, Robin Robin.

It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!!!
Image: Netflix

We have officially hit the point in the northern hemisphere where it’s very hot outside but every studio wants to tell you about all the festive holiday programming they’ve got coming later this year. We’ll excuse Aardman and Netflix’s latest though, because look how fuzzy those animals are.

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The streamer has announced a new partnership with Aardman—the beloved UK-based studio behind Chicken Run, Shaun the Sheep, Wallace & Gromit, and more—to develop Robin Robin, a new animated special to launch this Holiday season. The special stars Bronte Carmichael as the titular Robin the Robin, a hatchling whose egg falls from her nest, leading to her being raised by a family of mice, and giving her a life where she’s not quite a bird, not quite a mouse, but a feisty go-getter nonetheless, looking to prove herself in the strange world she’s grown up in.

Carmichael is joined in the main cast by Adeel Akhtar as Dad Mouse, the loving father to four of his own mouse children before adopting Robin into the family, and acting legend Richard E. Grant as Magpie, a collectible hoarder who takes the young Robin under his wing on her journey of self-discovery. But perhaps the most delightful casting of all is X-Files icon Gillian Anderson, who will play Robin Robin’s villain Cat, a…well, cat, whose voracious appetite to eat all things around her puts her at odds with our avian hero. If all the above adorable imagery wasn’t enough, here’s a new poster as well, which is mostly an excuse to melt over Robin’s faux-mouse ears:

Far too cute. You almost forget that it’s hot as hell outside and that you’re going to have to wait another five months before you can see more in action—Robin Robin will stream on Netflix from November 27.


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A Classic Horror Story Looks Gory and Terrifying

A blood-covered woman holds a shotgun in a screengrab from Netflix's spooky A Classic Horror Story.

Matilda Lutz in A Classic Horror Story.
Screenshot: Netflix/YouTube

Ever since Scream kind of reinvented the idea, meta-horror has been a rather familiar subgenre. These days, a horror movie barely even feels like a horror movie if one of the characters hasn’t seen Halloween 50 million times or drops in a few references to David Cronenberg or Dario Argento. Netflix’s new film, A Classic Horror Story, looks like it’s built on that skeleton as well, but takes things to a whole other level.

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Directed by Roberto De Feo and Paolo Strippoli—with a story by De Feo, Strippoli, Lucio Besana, David Bellini, and Milo Tissone—A Classic Horror Story is a new Italian horror film coming to Netflix on July 14. A teaser was released last month that described it as “Italian Midsommar meets Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and from this trailer, that description is right on the money.

So, so many horror references here. The idea of a group of people in a camper getting stranded is exactly Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Those shots of large groups of cult-like people gathering is exactly like Midsommar. The torture devices bring to mind Saw. The characters directly reference It. There’s a character in some kind of wooden, almost Jason Voorhees type mask. The main character toting a shotgun feels like The Evil Dead. Everyone literally ends up in a cabin in the woods, which is both Cabin in the Woods and about a billion other horror films. The font in the trailer is the font from Halloween. We could go on and on.

We don’t really know much about the film beyond that but the official YouTube description couldn’t be more tantalizing: “A camper. A car crash. An abandoned house. Children’s music in the background. Think you’ve seen it before? Look again.” We have no idea what that means but if somehow the film subverts all this in an interesting, scary way, this movie could be special.

A Classic Horror Story comes to Netflix on July 14.


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Forget 5G, Super-Fast 6G Is Already Here

Samsung researchers: Wonsuk Choi, Shadi Abu-Surra and Gary Xu with the THz proof-of-concept system.

Samsung researchers: Wonsuk Choi, Shadi Abu-Surra and Gary Xu with the THz proof-of-concept system.
Image: Samsung

The march of technology waits for no one, so despite the fact that the blazing fast 5G speeds we’ve been promised are nowhere close to blanketing the entire country, Samsung’s already testing 6G in its labs. The test hardware delivers blistering speeds that promise towell, we’ll figure that part out later.

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A team of researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Samsung Research and Samsung Research America successfully completed another test of a 140GHz transmitter and receiver that was first developed by UCSB Electrical and Computer Engineering professor Mark Rodwell back in 2017. While 5G wireless signals exist in a frequency range up to 40 GHz, 6G would instead occupy the wireless spectrum past 100 GHz, in the terahertz spectrum, allowing for considerable performance improvements.

The 6G hardware, operating at a frequency of 140 GHz and a bandwidth of 2 GHz, successfully transmitted data at 6.2 Gbps—around 775 MB/s—across a distance of about 50 feet. Back in March, Nokia and Turkey’s Turk Telekom set a 5G speed record that reached over 4.5 Gbps using special hardware that consumers will presumably never get their hands on. So even the earliest implementations of 6G already show considerable promise over its predecessor, but its potential is much greater than that.

Operating in the lesser-used terahertz spectrum means that 6G could potentially hit transfer speeds of up to 1 Tbps, or 125 gigabytes of data wirelessly flowing in and out of a mobile device every second. What does that mean for most people? That remains to be seen. Telcoms and service providers have struggled to find ways to convey the virtues of 5G to most consumers who can’t tell the difference between watching an HD Netflix stream on their smartphone’s tiny screen versus a 4K feed. The benefits are more apparent for those living in isolated areas who struggle to get high-speed internet into their homes or businesses. As 5G coverage areas expand, it could easily deliver broadband speed internet access without the need for expensive and expansive infrastructure upgrades.

There will certainly be similarly useful applications for 6G when it eventually rolls out, by then our smartphones might project 8K holograms, or stream complex virtual reality worlds streamed in real-time from a powerful remote server handling all the complex rendering. With a timeline that sees 6G arriving in 2030 at the earliest, however, even bleeding edge early adopters shouldn’t pay much attention to the technology just yet.

New Thor: Love and Thunder Pictures Reveal Jane Foster’s Mighty Costume

Jane Foster's Mighty Thor licked by flames on the cover of Marvel Comics' The Death of the Mighty Thor.

Oh, the thunder in her veins.
Image: Marvel Comics

The seventh Transformers film is expanding its cast. Vin Diesel teases Groot’s future in the MCU. Work on the next Scream is nearly done. Plus, what’s to come on The Flash and Superman & Lois, a new teaser for American Horror Stories, and raise your ax to a new Green Knight poster. Spoilers get!

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Illustration for article titled New Thor: Love and Thunder Pictures Reveal Jane Foster's Mighty Costume

Thor: Love and Thunder

A crew t-shirt circulating on social media has our first look at Jane Foster’s Mighty Thor, alongside Thor and Valkyrie in new armor.


Stopmotion

Deadline reports Aisling Franciosi is attached to star in Stopmotion, a horror film from director Robin King and writer Robert Morgan about “a stop-motion animator struggling to control her demons after the loss of her overbearing mother.” Aisling will play animator Ella Blake, “who embarks upon the creation of a film that becomes the battleground for her sanity. As Ella’s mind starts to fracture, the characters in her project take on a life of their own.”


Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Meanwhile, Shemar Moore revealed he’s joined the cast of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in a currently undisclosed role.

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Transformers 7

According to Comic Book Movie, Luna Lauren Velez has joined the cast of Transformers 7 as Anthony Ramos’ mom.

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Gundam

During a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Jordan Vogt-Roberts revealed his live-action Gundam movie will be “an amalgamation of several” incarnations of the franchise, drawing from “different things, different timelines and what not.”

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Scream

The latest Scream film is both “locked” and fully scored according to directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett.

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The Green Knight

Here’s a delightful new Green Knight poster.

Illustration for article titled New Thor: Love and Thunder Pictures Reveal Jane Foster's Mighty Costume

Photo: A24

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Gunpowder Milkshake

Netflix has released a second trailer for its star-studded action film, Gunpowder Milkshake.


Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans

Guillermo del Toro’s Tales of Arcadia draws to a close with the latest trailer for Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans.


Manifest

Sad news: NBC has canceled Manifest after three seasons. [TV Line]


Guardians of the Galaxy

Vin Diesel teases in a recent interview with Comicbook.com that Groot could return to his homeworld, Planet X, in future movies.

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Batwoman

Kate wears a Pearl Jam t-shirt in photos from this week’s episode of Batwoman. Head over to Comic Book for more.

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Illustration for article titled New Thor: Love and Thunder Pictures Reveal Jane Foster's Mighty Costume

Photo: The CW

Illustration for article titled New Thor: Love and Thunder Pictures Reveal Jane Foster's Mighty Costume

Photo: The CW

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The Flash

The Flash gets its first Allegra-centric episode with the trailer for next week’s “Rayo de Luz.


Superman & Lois

Superman’s newly-revealed brother, Morgan Edge, unleashes the Eradicator in the trailer for next week’s episode, “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events.


American Horror Stories

Finally, FX released has another teaser for the upcoming American Horror Story anthology series.

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Banner art by Jim Cook

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Peloton Bike+ Was Vulnerable to Remote Hacking, Researchers Find

Peloton Bike in front of the Peloton Studio in New York City

Photo: Scott Heins/Stringer (Getty Images)

Following news that Peloton’s API exposed private user account data, McAfee’s Advanced Threat Research team says the Bike+ had a dangerous flaw that could enable hackers to invisibly and remotely gain control of bikes.

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McAfee says its researchers began poking around Peloton’s systems once the workout-at-home trend took off during the pandemic. In the process, they found that the Bike+ software wasn’t verifying whether the device’s bootloader was unlocked, enabling them to upload a custom image that wasn’t meant for Peloton hardware. After downloading an official Peloton update package, the researchers were then able to modify Peloton’s actual boot image and gain root access to the bike’s software. The Android Verified Boot process wasn’t able to detect that the image had been tampered with.

Or put more simply, a hacker could use a USB key to upload a fake boot image file that grants them access to a bike remotely without a user ever knowing. That hacker can then install and run programs, modify files, harvest login credentials, intercept encrypted internet traffic, or spy on users through the bike’s camera and microphone.

This vulnerability may not sound all that serious for home users, as it requires physical access to the Bike+ to pull off. However, McAfee says that a bad actor could load the malware at any point during construction, at a warehouse, or in the delivery process. Peloton bikes are also popular fixtures at gyms and fitness centers in hotels and apartment buildings—an area that the company is keen to expand in. Peloton dropped $420 million to acquire Precor in December, and a big reason why is that Precor had an extensive commercial network that includes hotels, corporate campuses, colleges, and apartment complexes.

Peloton reportedly patched the issue on June 4 during the disclosure window, and there are no indications the vulnerability has been exploited in the wild. The company also confirmed that the flaw was also found on the Peloton Tread, which was recalled last month along with the Peloton Tread+.

This is usually the point where we tell you to go and make sure you have the most recent firmware update. That said, it’s not super easy to tell whether your Peloton has the most recent update, especially since the company doesn’t publicize software release notes. It’s an omission that Peloton should perhaps fix, considering how popular connected fitness has become in the past year. In cases like these, it’s a good idea to enable automatic updates if possible. Another thing to keep in mind is Peloton prohibits users from downloading other apps, such as Netflix or Spotify, onto its bikes and treadmills. (Though there are ways to get around that.) So, if you ever happen to be on a public Peloton and it has other apps… you probably shouldn’t use it.

Jennifer Lopez Will Battle a Killer AI in a New Netflix Movie

Jennifer Lopez wearing dramatic hair and make-up in a scene from her previous sci-fi film The Cell.

Twenty years after The Cell, Jennifer Lopez is going back to sci-fi.
Photo: New Line Cinema

A person doesn’t get to be as famous as Jennifer Lopez without having a wide-ranging career. Music, movies, television—she’s basically done it all, with a few small exceptions. One of those is science fiction. Oh sure, she was in The Cell and Anaconda, but those came out decades ago. Now, Lopez getting back into sci-fi in a big, big way with the biggest streamer there is.

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Deadline reports she’s set to star and produce a new film called Atlas, which is being made for Netflix. Brad Peyton (Rampage, San Andreas) is attached to direct from an original script by Leo Sardarian (Crackle’s StartUp), which is being polished by Aron Eli Coleite (Heroes, Star Trek Discovery, Locke & Key).

The premise is intriguing but oddly familiar. Apparently Lopez plays “a woman fighting for humanity in a future where an AI soldier has determined the only way to end war is to end humanity. To outthink this rogue AI, [she] must work with the one thing she fears most—another AI.” Wait. Is AtlasTerminator 2? It sure sounds similar, what with the whole two artificially intelligent beings, one of which is teaming up with a powerful woman to save the world” thing and all.

“I’m so honored to be working with Jennifer, Elaine [Goldsmith-Thomas], and the rest of the team at Nuyorican Productions along with our partners Joby [Harold] and Tory [Tunnell] at Safehouse,” Peyton said in a statement. “Having the chance to direct Jennifer in the title role of this movie is a dream come true, as I know she’ll bring the incredible strength, depth, and authenticity we’ve all come to admire from her work. Furthermore, Jeff [Fierson] and I are so excited to be back working with… the entire team at Netflix. They have been nothing short of amazing to work with and we are blessed to have the opportunity to make another movie on the service.” That last movie Peyton is referring to is an action thriller called Sweet Girl, which he produced; it stars Jason Momoa and comes to Netflix later this summer.

Really, though, the main event here is Jennifer Lopez and an AI battling another AI to save humanity. And you can sign us the hell up for that.


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The Witcher Anime Prequel Will Explore What It Takes to Be a Witcher

Geralt and Vesemir in their video game appearances for The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt, crouching in some tall grass in front of trees..

Geralt and Vesemir appearing older and wiser in The Witcher 3.
Image: CD Projekt Red

It is, apparently, not all sitting around in a tub before you kill a monster for coins and bardic inspiration, apparently.

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Speaking during a pre-recorded panel at the online Annecy Film Festival (as reported by Variety), Witcher showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich and co-executive producer Kwang Il Han opened up about Studio Mir’s work on the new Witcher animated prequel Nightmare of the Wolf. “There are things I wanted to know about what it takes to become a Witcher, how Geralt became a Witcher, where his journey started and who was important to him,” Hissrich said of the series’ goals. That important person, the focus of Nightmare of the Wolf, is Vesemir, a major character from the Witcher novels and CD Projekt Red’s gaming adaptations, and Geralt’s Witcher mentor. While Vesemir will appear in The Witcher’s second season in live-action, played by Kim Bodnia, its still unknown if the Killing Eve actor will voice the younger Vesemir in Nightmare of the Wolf. According to Variety, the Vesemir we meet in the series is “seemingly unshakable” until a crisis affecting the entire Continent will force him to “re-evaluate why he does the work he does.”

As well as exploring the origins of the Witchers as an organization—and the climactic events in the Continent that gave rise to the existence of magic and monsters alike, as well as the eventual distrust between mages and Witchers—Hissrich emphasized that Nightmare of the Wolf will explore Vesemir’s arc and how that maps onto Geralt’s eventual worldview, as well as the latter’s burgeoning relationship with his young ward, Ciri. “Families are multi-generational. The things I teach my children, I learned from the generation ahead of me. When we meet Geralt in The Witcher he is a full adult, he’s 100 years old and he’s been living on his own for a very long time,” Hissrich said. “But you can’t help wondering how he learned the things he practices regularly and is going to teach Ciri.”

Nightmare of the Wolf is set to hit Netflix sometime later this year, ahead of the second season of the show.


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How Masters of the Universe: Revelation Updates He-Man for 2021

A still from Netflix's Masters of the Universe: Revelation featuring Orko, Andra, Teela, Roboto, and Evil-Lyn.

Orko (Griffin Newman), Andra (Tiffany Smith), Teela (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Roboto (Justin Long), and Evil-Lyn (Lena Headey) on Masters of the Universe: Revelation.
Image: Netflix

The first thing you’ll notice about the new Masters of the Universe show is that “He-Man” isn’t in the title. The original ‘80s cartoon was called He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and this new Netflix version was named Masters of the Universe: Revelation. That’s not because He-Man isn’t in it—of course, he is—but it speaks to how the Kevin Smith-led series will be more team orientated than it originally was and more inclusive for 2021.

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Last month, io9 spoke with Revelation showrunner and executive producer Kevin Smith about his new coffee table book, Secret Stash, and snuck in a few Masters of the Universe questions. We asked him if making a show about, and starring, someone that’s so hyper-masculine he literally has two man-names posed any challenges in a more inclusive, understanding society. “Good news about He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” Smith said. “Yes, of course, He-Man was [the] main character, but every episode it was He -Man and the Masters of the Universe. It was a team-oriented show that was not just He-Man.”

He continued, “You got Teela, you got your Man-at-Arms, you got your Orko, you got your Cringer, your Sorceress. So they were always fairly widely cast in terms of gender. One of your top villains was Evil-Lyn. He-Man is the Sorceress’ champion technically—he serves the Sorceress and the power of Grayskull. Teela was there to protect him as Adam and of course, doesn’t know that he’s He-Man and whatnot. So we didn’t feel going in like, ‘Oh, man. Now we got to explain what these cats did in the ‘80s.’ They actually did a pretty good job of explaining it themselves or making it at least boy and girl friendly.”

He-Man (Chris Wood) with Sorceress (Susan Eisenberg).

He-Man (Chris Wood) with Sorceress (Susan Eisenberg).
Image: Netflix

Smith obviously had thought about this a lot and realized while the gender representation was actually pretty good, especially for the early ‘80s, it wasn’t 100% on the up and up in other areas. “Now the difference is it was an awfully white show back then and that’s something we felt like we needed to update a bit,” Smith said. “Masters of the Universe had one black character in Clamp Champ, who naturally evolved in our show as well. But we felt like we were able to diversify the world of Masters of the Universe a bit more than the original was.”

One of the main ways they did that, according to Smith, was to give more prominence Andra, a Black character in Revelation. In the larger mythology of Masters of the Universe, Andra wasn’t super famous—she doesn’t even get her own link on the Wiki page. She was also white in the original series, something that’s already causing certain areas of fandom—you know the ones—to cry foul. But Smith and the team have given the character a massive, important role this time around. She’s voiced by Tiffany Smith who is a woman of color and identifies as multiracial, an important distinction with all the discussions in recent years about white actors voicing animated characters of color.

“She’s our way into the show for the people who don’t know the show,” Smith said. “In the show itself, she’s the one that’s kind of outside of the previous mythology a little bit… She represents the wide-eyed wonder of the audience in as much as she’s the character that has not dealt with the mythology of Eternia. She’s never met He-Man or Skeletor or been to Castle Grayskull. She’s just somebody who lives on Planet Eternia outside of Eternos. So, by way of our story, she’s our audience’s eyes into that world. She reacts with the same amount of wonder that we hope our audience reacts with as they watch the show. So, there are moments like that where we get to diversify more than they did in the ‘80s.”

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Masters of the Universe: Revelation debuts on Netflix July 23 and we’ll have more on it soon.


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