Bad news, Batfans: Ben Affleck is no longer the man behind the man behind the cowl. Yep, he’s stepping away from the director’s chair for the in-development Batman solo spin-off from this year’s Justice League.
The news broke yesterday, with Affleck releasing a statement in which he said that, really, he’s still super into making The Batman, just in a different way. “Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give,” he explained. “It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require. Together with the studio, I have decided to find a partner in a director who will collaborate with me on this massive film. I am still in this, and we are making it, but we are currently looking for a director. I remain extremely committed to this project, and look forward to bringing this to life for fans around the world.”
That’s a lot of reassurance for one statement.
Of course, maybe reassurance is what The Batman needs. It’s already been used as an example of a blockbuster where quality isn’t a priority, and Affleck himself has said “if it doesn’t come together in a way I think is really great I’m not going to do it.” And just a couple of weeks ago, he still seemed ambivalent about the current state of the script, telling IGN, “There’s great stuff in it now, it just needs to get better and better.” That… almost sounds like enthusiasm? Nearly?
If fans are looking for silver linings in this news, the obvious bit is that the movie might actually be more likely to happen if Affleck is replaced by someone more enthusiastic about hitting the targeted 2018 release date. It also means Warner Bros. can put a director at the helm who doesn’t have a half dozen other projects currently vying for their time. Now all Affleck and the studio have to do is pick one. Hey, we hear Joss Whedon is free.
Masaya Nakamura, the man who founded Namco and was known as the “Father of Pac-Man,” has died. He was 91 years old.
Nakamura founded Namco as Nakamura Manufacturing in 1955. Originally a provider of mechanical kids’ rides for department stores, the enterprise expanded to arcade games in the 1970s. In 1980, Namco released designer Toru Iwatani’s Pac-Man–the colorful ghost-chase classic that has been a pop culture mainstay ever since.
Thanks to Namco, which became an incredibly successful videogame developer and publisher that eventually merged with Bandai in 2005, Nakamura was one of the people credited with launching the Japanese videogame industry. In addition to Pac-Man, Namco also released other arcade classics like Galaga, Pole Position, and, of course, Ms. Pac-Man.
Nakamura passed away on January 22 but his death was only announced today by Bandai Namco, which did not note the cause.
The year is young, but the plot for Colossal is currently the front-runner for the strangest (and best) movie storyline of 2017. In the movie, a woman named Gloria (Anne Hathaway) realizes that she’s been unwittingly controlling a kaiju that’s crushing Seoul. When she discovers this she is, obviously, shocked, but soon learns the fun side of manipulating a giant monster: making him dance. (Whee!) It’s not all fun and tailfeather-shaking, though, as Gloria soon discovers that every blunder or drunken stumble she makes could have dire consequences. Check out the new trailer for writer-director Nacho Vigalondo’s new movie above.
In 2018, even angels and devils will cross party lines to prevent the coming of the End Times–on the small screen, at least. In an apropos bit of news, Amazon announced today that author Neil Gaiman will be adapting his novel Good Omens into a “comedic apocalyptic” miniseries, set to be released on Prime Video next year.
Good Omens, beloved by generations of fantasy readers, tells the story of humanity’s last bumbling steps towards the Apocalypse, as angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley try to procrastinate towards the end of the world–turns out, life on Earth is pretty comfortable for the manifestations of Good and Evil. The four horsemen of the Apocalypse include War, a female war correspondent, and Famine, a diet book author. And due to a mix-up at the county hospital, Adam Young, the Antichrist, grows up in a quiet British town. The comedy may have seemed far-fetched when Gaiman co-wrote it with Terry Pratchett in 1990, but considering tomorrow’s inauguration of a one-time reality TV star to the highest office in the land, the apocalypse comedy of Good Omens seems more like parody than fantasy.
Gaiman will write the script for the six-part limited comedy series for Amazon and the BBC, and will also serve as showrunner. Today’s news promises a good couple of years for Gaiman fans: In addition to Good Omens in 2018, an adaptation of his 2001 novel American Gods is set to premiere on Starz in April.
It might be the adaptation that the world needs by 2018–until then, we’ll have to wait and see if the Amazon series was foretold by that 17th century classic, The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch.
The final trailer for Logan, the sequel to 2013’s The Wolverine, and reportedly Hugh Jackman’s last movie as the popular X-Men character, has been released, and while it’s not as immediately grim as the first, it’s another sign that this is going to be very unlike any other superhero movie out there.
While this new glimpse is more action-packed than the first teaser–and shows Dafne Keen in action as Laura Kinney, the mysterious young girl who may or may not be a clone of Logan himself–it also purposefully plays against any expectations the audience might have about the character from the X-Men movies. In fact, it even opens with Logan leafing through an X-Men comic Laura is reading, saying, “Maybe a quarter of it happened, and not like this.”
Logan, once again directed by The Wolverine’s James Mangold, and also starring future emoji poop Sir Patrick Stewart as an aged Professor Charles Xavier, slashes into theaters March 3.
After a missed opportunity with this year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, Miles Morales–Marvel’s other Spider-Man, the one that isn’t Peter Parker–is finally swinging his way onto the big screen. Sony Pictures Animation confirmed today that Morales will be the web-slinger at the heart of the studio’s upcoming Spider-Man animated movie.
The movie will be written by The Lego Movie’s Phil Lord, who also acts as co-executive producer on the project with his Last Man on Earth and Lego Movie partner Chris Miller. The Little Prince’s Bob Persichetti and Rise of the Guardians’ Peter Ramsey will co-direct.
Morales was created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli in 2011 as the primary Spider-Man for Marvel’s “Ultimate” imprint. The character–a mixed-race teenager of African-American and Hispanic descent–quickly became a break-out star, to the point of being one of the few characters to be folded into the mainstream comic book line of the publisher in 2015’s All-New, All-Different Marvel line-wide relaunch. Currently, he appears in the Spider-Man and Champions series from the publisher.
Outside of comics, he’s appeared in the Disney XD animated series Spider-Man: Web Warriors, and will be one of the leads of the upcoming Marvel’s Spider-Man animated series launching this summer. He was once rumored to be in the running to anchor the movie franchise when Marvel and Sony partnered to reboot it for a second time two years ago. Obviously, that didn’t happen–and his forthcoming animated movie debut won’t tie into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe–but good things happen to heroes who wait, apparently.
The as-yet-untitled Spider-Man animated movie is scheduled to hit theaters December 21, 2018.
Drew Barrymore: Hollywood flower child, former Angel of Charlie, and now … zombie. In the new trailer for Netflix’s upcoming original series, Santa Clarita Diet, she plays a wife, mother, and real estate agent who finds herself turned into one of the undead and is rather upbeat about it. Turns out, she has more energy and confidence as a zombie, and if she can just manage to not eat her family, she’ll be all set! (This dark comedy, from Better Off Ted producer Victor Fresco, is definitely more Warm Bodies than Walking Dead.) All in all, this series, which premieres February 3 on the streaming service, looks like a good time. We may not need another thing about zombies, but we do need binge-able doses of Drew Barrymore and Justified’s Timothy Olyphant (he plays Barrymore’s husband), so we’ll put this on the must-watch list.
— Golden Globe Awards (@goldenglobes) January 9, 2017
Last night, Hollywood elite Meryl Streep won the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes and used her acceptance speech to tear apart the performance of reality TV elitist Donald Trump in the role of “Presidential Hopeful Who Mocks a Disabled Reporter.” Her pronouncement? Pitiful! But effective. “There was nothing good about it, but it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth,” she said. Trump fired back this morning.
Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2017
The Internet, asleep like a cat before a roaring fire, cocked back its ears. Wait, did it hear correctly? Was he going after Streep? Our Streep? What was he about to call her? Nine minutes later, Trump completed his thought:
Hillary flunky who lost big. For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him…….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2017
This was a step too far. Call Washington insider Hillary Clinton a nasty woman? Sure. Attack a union organizer in Indiana? Fine! Go after car companies and foreign currencies and religious groups? That’s OK, too. But call the literal queen of the silver screen overrated? And tell her she misinterpreted his performance? Um no. If anyone knows from acting, it’s perennial Oscar front-runner Meryl Streep. The Internet had had enough. The cat jumped into action.
First, the pro-Streepers/anti-Trumpers launched the hashtag #thingstrumpthinksareoverrated. Like most joke hashtags, it set people up to make the same joke over and over again, which they happily did:
Decency, humanity, empathy, truth, national security, the intelligence of Americans. 140 char. isn’t enough #ThingsTrumpThinksAreOverrated
— Steve Redmond (@sjredmond) January 9, 2017
The moon landing.Cancer cure. Permission before grabbing genitals. Martin Luther King. Love. Honestly.Empathy #ThingsTrumpThinksAreOverrated
— tara strong (@tarastrong) January 9, 2017
The popular vote. #ThingsTrumpThinksAreOverrated
— Matt Knight (@LegendaryCatch) January 9, 2017
— Paul Lander (@paul_lander) January 9, 2017
— Marcel Kolder? (@Kanteldenker) January 9, 2017
Predictably, pro-Trumpers/anti-Streepers swooped in to co-opt said hashtag, using it fight in Trump’s defense:
The media’s predictions. pic.twitter.com/TvWtDyDq4C
— Agent Elizabeth (@MissLizzyNJ) January 9, 2017
Things were getting funny! And exciting! But in this feud, the Internet could do better than a hashtag. Streep has won three Academy Awards–with 19 nominations–1and eight Golden Globes (hence the lifetime achievement nod) and acted in 79 films. You know what that means? There are also plenty of reaction GIFs!
— Matt Bauman (@mattbaumanNYC) January 9, 2017
tfw u find out that circus peanut hitler actually came 4 u pic.twitter.com/rm5P5J09XL
— Russ Bengtson (@russbengtson) January 9, 2017
— Amber Tamblyn (@ambertamblyn) January 9, 2017
In the Venn diagram of Trump supporters and Streep supporters, many people seem to fall right smack dab in the middle. Some of them took to the president-elect’s favorite communication medium, Twitter, to tell Trump so. We love you, and we love Meryl Streep, but please, they beseeched, don’t make us choose!
@realDonaldTrump she is a fantastic actress admit you are wrong. And to think I voted for you. I feel so bad for doing so.
— nanajib (@nanajib) January 9, 2017
@realDonaldTrump Love Meryl Streep. Grow a thicker skin. You sound childish and immature. I voted for you. Read:
1 Corinthians 13:11
— Brenda Scott (@rbjscott2) January 9, 2017
Of course, even The Onion had some #thoughts.
— The Onion (@TheOnion) January 9, 2017
But, despite its outrage, the Internet still had room to be self-congratulatory, too. Because if there’s one thing the Internet (apparently) loves more than Meryl Streep, it’s being right.
— John DiLillo (@dilillicious) January 9, 2017
1Correction at 5:53pm ET: An earlier version of this story misstated how many Academy Awards Streep had won.
Pornhub released its year-in-review viewing statistics today, and as usual it’s a fascinating glimpse into a (humongous) corner of internet usage that isn’t discussed much in polite conversation. Besides the fact that “VR” was the fastest-growing search in just about every country, one detail in particular caught our eye: the 11th most popular search term in the world last year was our Game of the Year, multiplayer shooter Overwatch. To which you may be asking yourself: Wait, what?
In truth, it’s not that surprising for anyone familiar with the game. Overwatch is, well, horny; it has a wide, colorful cast of largely attractive characters, many of whom are sexualized in ways ranging from the explicit to the more subtle. (Both of those links are safe for work. Scout’s honor.) It’s something the game’s fandom has run with in a big way, too; a quick search of the Overwatch tag on Tumblr or any site like it reveals an unending stream of fan art, much of it depicting every possible relationship configuration you can imagine. And the cast coming from a wide variety of geographical and cultural backgrounds is apparently paying off in the porn scene: While the game doesn’t crack the top 10 search terms globally, it’s third in Spain, second in Argentina, and the top Pornhub search term for all of 2016 in Russia. (That last one probably isn’t a coincidence. Zarya, a pink-haired heavy who many in the fandom read as a butch lesbian, is from Russia in the game’s backstory and seems to have quite the following there.)
The cast of characters is broad enough to cater to a lot of different prurient interests, from the traditional to German proto-viking warriors to, uh, robots who can turn into stationary turrets. Games encourage you to identify with the characters you play as, and a game like Overwatch in particular encourages you to select, learn, and master specific characters. It’s only natural that those connections might extend to other parts of life. If anything, it’s surprising that sexy videogame interpretations haven’t hit the mainstream sooner. Then again, if any game from last year was poised to take the NSFW world by storm, we’re just glad it was one that was designed to be as inclusive and harassment-free as possible, rather than, like, Doom. Ugh.
Mass Effect Andromeda, the long-awaited fourth installment in Bioware and EA’s space-faring, alien-smoothing series of role-playing games, finally has a release date. Coming for PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, it’ll be out March 21, 2017 in the United States and March 23 in Europe.
Andromeda will feature the protagonist, a new character in the series named Ryder, exploring the eponymous galaxy on behalf of the human race, seeking planets to colonize 600 years after the tumultuous ending of Mass Effect 3. Beyond that and a few brief snippets of gameplay, not a lot has been revealed about the game since its official announcement in 2013; it’s certainly been more muted than most major game rollouts. EA promised in their announcement that we’d see more of the game at the Consumer Electronics Show later this week, and then we’ll see if the Andromeda Galaxy holds any promise come March.