Weekend Whammy

Weekend Whammy: Marvel Phase 4, The Witcher & Picard

A fist fight in Defector for Oculus Rift

I’m back with another entirely late Weekend Whammy, and this week I’m mostly chatting about The Witcher show and Marvel’s Phase 4 plans. As always this series of articles is just about the games I’ve reviewed, what I’ve been playing, watching and reading and anything else I fancy chatting about. Let me know in the comments what you’ve been up to this week as well!

Right, just the one review this week because contrary to popular belief I do actually have a life. That’s a bold face lie. Anyway, this week I reviewed Defector for the Oculus Rift. It had some great elements, including a bloody amazing opening level, but it didn’t quite manage to keep the momentum going.

It’s important to remember that VR is still very much in its infancy and developers are working to find out how to make games for it. Nor are the big developers willing to produce a big triple-A, full price game for the format yet, perhaps because there isn’t much of an install base yet to make a profit on one. Until VR drops in price and becomes more accessible, though, that doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.

A review of They Are Billions will be posted in the next day or two as well. After that I’ve got the new FIA European Truck Racing Championship to cover, a screen review and some other stuff. Basically, I have way too many things sitting in my backlog so I might just go hide in my bed for a while. Adult responsibilities can go jump off a cliff.

Okay, so now all that stuff is out of the way can we please talk about the trailer for The Witcher? It dropped this week and offered the first glimpse of what Netflix’s series is going to be like, and from what I saw I’m kinda digging it. While I’m only a few books into the Witcher series it seems quite clear from the trailer that they’re basing things off of the novels rather than the games. Some obvious examples of this are how Geralt isn’t sporting the chunky wolf medallion from the games and how Yennefer is shown in her hunchback phase.

Henry Cavill is looking good as Geralt of Rivia, despite being as massive as a freaking mountain. Geralt was always described as being quite sinewy rather than muscular, so it’s funny to see that Cavill actually looks bigger than he did when playing Superman. The one thing I’m concerned about is that Geralt might be portrayed as too moody. While he certainly is moody in the books he also has a dry sense of wit. Lets hope he has the understated humour from both the books and the games.

One thing I appreciated watching the official The Witcher panel was that Cavill seems genuinely excited about the role and knows his stuff when it comes to Witcher lore. He says he’s played the games a lot over the years and I’m inclined to believe him.

Visually everything is looking pretty spectacular. In the books Geralt doesn’t actually fight that many monsters, largely because the monster population is dwindling unlike in the games. But we do get a glimpse of a massive monster rising from a swamp, plus a pasty-skinned Geralt who has clearly been chugging his special potions. If the books are anything to go by a lot of time is going to be spent on Geralt’s relationships, his place in the world and the fact that the humans he encounters are often worse than the monsters. But I’m sure when the monsters do turn up the action will be a lot of fun, especially since Cavill is apparently doing all of his own stuntwork. Maybe hanging around with Tom Cruise rubbed off on him?

Picard is Back

I also caught the trailer for the new Picard series which brings Sir Patrick Stewart back as my favourite Star Trek captain, Captain Jean Luc Picard. After the so-so Star Trek Discovery I’m hoping this new series can capture some of that old Star Trek magic, especially as Patrick Steward has apparently been adding his input on the script.

The big notable moments in the trailer for me were seeing Seven of Nine making a brilliant comeback, as well as Data playing a prominent role. The fact that the Borg are also back brings a huge smile to my face.

The plot itself is tricky to get a handle on at this point. There seems to be some mysterious woman, and the trailers appears to show people being beamed away at numerous points.

I’m pretty damn excited for this one.

Marvel’s Phase 4 Plans

We got a glimpse of Marvels’ Phase 4 plans as well over comic-con. I wrote a little while back that my excitement for the MCU had declined a little now that the original core Avengers were stepping back, and while that remains true I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find the new Phase Four slate intriguing. Here’s a quick rundown of what was revealed, my thoughts on it and my interest in it on a 1-10 scale.

Oh, and there are spoilers for Avengers: Endgame.

Thor: Love & Thunder will be directed by Taiko Waitati who was obviously responsible for the excellent Thor: Ragnarock. The catch here is that Natalie Portman’s character Jane Foster will be wielding Mjolnir this time round, taking up the mantle of Thor. This happened in the comics, too, with Jane becoming Thor while also suffering from cancer. While I’ve not read that particular comic run the reviews and general views seemed really positive.

James Gunn also revealed that Thor 4 will take place before Guardians of the Galaxy 3 in which Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is presumably still going to be a part of.

Don’t worry, I don’t think Chris Hemsworth is stepping aside just yet. In the comic story Thor becomes unworthy which is why Jane winds up in the role. I’m not sure if they’ll stick with the worthy angle, largely because Ragnarock unleashed Thor by pointing out that the hammer was just to keep his own powers in check. However, Mjolnir remains able to grant the power of Thor to anyone wielding it, as seen in Endgame. Of course, they’ll need to make a new hammer so….hmm. Excito-meter rating 8/10

Blade was probably the biggest surprise for me as I never expected the vampire hunter to enter the MCU proper. While in my mind there’s no replacing Wesley Snipes as Blade the choice of Mahershala Ali (last seen in Marvel as Cottonmouth in Luke Cage) seems pretty solid. Here’s hoping he’ll play the character true to the comics, by which I mean he’ll have an English accent because that’s where he comes from.

Anyway, Blade is a pretty hard film to get a handle on. Nothing is known about it and the introduction of vampires into the MCU could be tricky. Excito-meter rating 6/10

Black Widow will officially kick off Phase 4 next year and will take place between Winter Soldier and Infinity War. Scarlett Johansson really came into her own as Black Widow over the years so I’m excited to see her finally get a film. The film will introduce Yelena, who in the comics is a sort of sister to Black Widow. Perhaps this means Yelena will be set up to take the place of Black Widow going forward?

More importantly, are we ever going to find out what the hell happened with Black Widow and Hawkeye in Bucharest? Excito-meter rating 7/10

The Falcon & The Winter Soldier is going to be the first of Disney’s Disney+ MCU series, which immediately turns me off. Disney opting to kill of the Netflix Marvel shows was probably their biggest mis-step in the MCU to date, and their decision to make yet another streaming platform comes a close second. It’s even weirder when you consider Disney bought out Hulu earlier this year and thus literally owns a streaming platform already.

Anyway, as the name suggests this show has Falcon and Bucky teaming up and is going to run eight episodes, presumably building up Falcon as the new Captain America. If nothing else I’m curious to see how these new MCU shows are going to look and feel, but I just can’t see myself buying yet another subscription. Excito-meter rating 5/10

The Eternals hold the potential to change the MCU the most. These guys are an immortal alien race sent to Earth to save it from their evil counterparts, who are named…the Deviants. Wow. Anyway, the film will span millennia, and may even stretch to modern day.

The horrible Inhumans were an offshoot of the Eternals, but hopefully nobody will remember that. Either way, the Eternals never interested me as characters, despite their ties to the Celestials and their overall implications for the Marvel universe. Excito-meter rating 3/10

Shang-Chi & The Legend of the Ten Rings gives the MCU plenty of opportunity to do something visually and tonally very different. Shang-Chi is a master of various types of martial arts and despite being human with no real super-powers has in fact defeated numerous super-powered characters. The film is going to be set in the 70’s and I’m hoping for some proper kung-fu action without heavy use of CGI.

Also fascinating is the re-introduction of the Mandarin and his Ten Rings organization. These guys have technically been around since the start of the MCU in Iron Man, and of course Iron Man 3 became infamous for having the Mandarin not actually be the Mandarin but rather someone pretending to be the Mandarin. And then later in the same film another idiot claimed to be the Mandarin. Hmm.

As for the Ten Rings, they’re magical and could therefore wind up being pretty important in the MCU. Excito-meter rating 7/10

Wanda Vision is a stupid, terrible name but it does at least have lots of different meanings. It’s going to be another Disney+ show and stars Wanda herself, and will apparently tie in with the new Doctor Strange movie. It’ll have a 1950’s aesthetic and is going to be adapting the Vision comic run written by Tom King where Vision was living an idyllic family life.

In the comics Scarlet Witch has caused a lot of problems over the years thanks to her reality-bending powers, including wiping out mutants. It’s been a theory for a while that she may be responsible for introducing mutants into the MCU now that Marvel can finally bring the X-men and others into the picture.

It’s the tie-in with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness that gives us the most clues. It seems likely she’s going to start messing around with the multi-verse in a bid to bring Vision back, perhaps planning on kidnapping a Vision from an alternate universe. Perhaps in the process she winds up causing some sort of dimensional tear which Doctor Strange has to fix. Could she even be the “villain” of the film before Doctor Strange takes her on as an apprentice of sorts?

Anyway, the fact that it’s Disney+ again is frustrating, but on its own merits the show sounds pretty interesting. Excito-meter rating 7/10

Loki has a logo that looks like it was designed by an excitable child in photoshop, but who doesn’t love Loki? While it is another Disney+ show the prospect of seeing Hiddleston messing about again might be enough for a lot of people. The idea here is that the alternate universe Loki who got the Tesseract in Endgame is going to be hopping around various dimensions and presumably getting into a lot of trouble.

I do feel like this takes away from the character’s death in Endgame, though. Sure, it’s a different Loki who hasn’t yet had all the experiences after The Avengers, but it still feels like a bit of cheat in the same way that bringing back Gamora was also a bit cheap. Excito-meter rating 5/10

Doctor Strange in the Multi-verse of Madness is one hell of a name and is being called the first true horror movie of the MCU, which sounds proper awesome in my book. As stated it’s going to tie in with Wanda Vision somehow and will have Strange dealing with truly cosmic-scale horrors. In other words, it’s all going a bit Lovecraft which is fine by me since Doctor Strange has a lot of things in that style.

There’s a lot of potential here. I’d be happy if Strange encounters some truly cosmic-scale threats, the kind that don’t even spare us a second thought but nonetheless would wipe us out without even being aware of it. These don’t need to be big-bads for the Avengers to fight, but more like an ever-looming threat in the background that could serve to make Strange feel more important in the grand scheme of things. The Avangers can punch stuff all they like, but only Doctor Strange knows the true terrors that are out there. Dun-Dun-DUNNNNNNNNN! Excito-meter rating 9/10

What-if is going to be an animated Disney+ show and as the name suggests will feature a bunch of What-If scenarios. The first is going to be about what would of happened if Peggy Carter had taken the super-soldiers serum rather than Steve Rogers. Apparently most of the original actors will be returning to reprise their roles, so this could be one of the last times we get Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans in the MCU. Excito-meter rating: 3/10

Hawkeye is yet another Disney+ show and seems to be indicating that Jeremy Renner is hanging up the bow. In the show he’ll be training up Kate Bishop to become the new Hawkeye. Given that Clint dealt with losing his family and then had to watch his best friend commit suicide to save the universe it’s understandable that he might want to call it quits.

If the show is indeed the last hurrah for Renner then I hope they do him justice. While Hawkeye never got a lot of focus Renner always brought his A+ game and clearly enjoyed the role. Excito-meter rating 7/10

Aaaaand that’s it for Phase 4. The big news is really that there is currently no announced Avengers movie which I’m quite happy about. Marvel took their time building up the characters in the first Phase before tossing them together. In the next Avengers movie we’ll have a brand new team, so I’m fine with Marvel taking their time to showcase all the new characters before bringing them together.

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