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July 2, 2019. That’s the last time we heard from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

23 films in, after the greatest team-up that the silver screen has ever seen in Avengers: Endgame and the revelation of Peter Parker’s identity to the world in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the biggest franchise in Hollywood suddenly went silent, as if Thanos himself snapped his fingers and took it all away once again.

And now, in January 2021, the MCU is back. And it’s very, very different.

After the pandemic related postponements of Black Widow and The Eternals out of 2020 into later and later dates in 2021, the first signs of life from Marvel Studios come not from a massive CGI throw down with galactic ramifications, but instead…a black and white sitcom, as the first two episodes of the inaugural Marvel Studios TV series, WandaVision arrived on Disney+ on Friday morning.

Taking two of the lesser featured Avengers, the love-locked reality controlling sorceress Wanda Maximoff (known as the Scarlet Witch in the 4-color world, played by Elizabeth Olsen reprising her big screen role), and her gentleman caller, the wall-phasing android named Vision (Paul Bettany). Of course, this is the perfect duo for a Bewitched-homage, right? First idea you think of, yeah?

Turns out? They kind of are. In these initial episodes, we’re thrust into the suburban setting of Westview, as the Superduo, now apparently married, attempt to settle down into a less dramatic lifestyle. Wanda cooks and cleans as a housewife, and Vision makes himself look like a human so he can clock in at a 9-to-5 in a company called Computational Services, Inc., where not even their boss can describe what they do.

It’s got all the elements of a classic sitcom. A laugh track, a noisy neighbor (played pitch perfect Kathryn Hahn, having the most fun of every one here), recognizable plots from sitcoms of yore (the first episode includes a mix up of an anniversary dinner and having the boss over for dinner), and they’ve even got vintage looking and feeling commercial spots here.

Just, something feels…off. How did they get here? How did they become married? What lead them to Westview? Where is Westview? And why is that thing over there suddenly in color? And how did Wanda get pregnant at the end of that episode?

Yep. This one is a mystery. Critics themselves were only given 3 of the 9 episodes which the series run, so something must be to the mystery, but until then, WandaVision is an absolute curveball from a studio whose formula we thought we had down pat. Turns out the best way to change it is to toss it out completely, and their cast is completely game for the turn, as Bettany and Olsen both ham it up in just the right way.

Bettany in particular shines in the second episode, playing the Vision as a drunk, due to ingesting gum, pretty much stealing that episodes third act in the process. Olsen is more of the straight woman, but it’s quite clear that she’ll be showing the dramatic chops she refined in other projects soon enough, with the cracks already starting to show in these early episodes.

I’m not going to lie to you folks, this is not the Mandalorian-esq extension you’re expecting from the first Marvel Studios series to hit Disney+. All indications are, that’ll be March’s The Falcon and Winter Soldier. In the meantime, though, if you give yourself over to WandaVision’s unique charms, you’ll be looking forward to the next episode every Friday, if only to try to figure out the road ahead.

WandaVision is available now on Disney+.

WarnerMedia has CLEARLY Learned Nothing From Their DC Comics Movie Success

Managing Movie Superheroes Is About to Get a Lot More Complicated – The New York Times:

As the president of DC Films, however, Mr. Hamada, 52, manages the movie careers of Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg, the Flash, Superman and every other DC Comics superhero. And the new course he has charted for them is dizzying.

The most expensive DC movies (up to four a year, starting in 2022) are designed for release in theaters, Mr. Hamada said. Additional superhero films (two annually is the goal, perhaps focused on riskier characters like Batgirl and Static Shock) will arrive exclusively on HBO Max, the fledgling streaming service owned by WarnerMedia.

In addition, DC Films, which is part of Warner Bros., will work with filmmakers to develop movie offshoots — TV series that will run on HBO Max and interconnect with their big-screen endeavors.

So, 6 movies a year along with TV spin-offs is the goal.

Meanwhile, Marvel is arguably going “too big” with 3 movies and 3 TV shows a year.

Good luck, gang. If Wonder Woman 1984 was any indication, you need a lot more “no guys” on your staff than “yes men”.

METAL GEAR OSCAR: Oscar Issac WILL Be Solid Snake

Oscar Isaac To Star As Solid Snake In Sony’s ‘Metal Gear Solid’ Movie – Deadline:

Sony’s long awaited Metal Gear Solid adaptation looks to have gained some major momentum as sources tell Deadline that Oscar Isaac is attached to play Solid Snake in Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Metal Gear Solid. The film is currently in development at Sony Pictures with Vogt-Roberts on board to direct.

The film is based on the Metal Gear Solid video game created by Hideo Kojima and published by Konami. The script is written by Derek Connolly. Avi Arad is producing. Peter Kang is the executive overseeing for the studio.

Between this and Moon Knight, Oscar Issac is appearing as all of my favorite heroes. This absolutely rules.

BOMBSHELL: Warner Bros’ Entire 2021 Release Schedule to Hit HBO Max Same Day as Theaters

‘Matrix 4,’ ‘Dune,’ 2021 WB Slate Debuting on HBO Max and in Theaters – Variety:

When Warner Bros. announced that “Wonder Woman 1984” would land on the streaming service HBO Max on Christmas, the same time it debuts in theaters, many expected it to be an isolated case in response to an unprecedented pandemic.

Instead, the studio will deploy a similar release strategy for the next 12 months. In a surprising break from industry standards, Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 slate — a list of films that includes “The Matrix 4,” Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” remake, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical adaptation of “In the Heights,” “Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark” and “The Suicide Squad” — will debut both on HBO Max and in theaters on their respective release dates. The shocking move to simultaneously release movies day-and-date underscores the crisis facing movie theaters and the rising importance of streaming services in the wake of a global health crisis that’s decimated the film exhibition community.

This was, in short, an absolutely stunning bit of news to hit midday today.

With the Disney+ release of Pixar’s Soul and the HBO Max release of Wonder Woman 1984 hitting on Christmas Day, I had a feeling one of the studios was going to start testing the waters for this type of move next year — COVID numbers and vaccine response pending — but I didn’t think we’d see an announcement this big, this soon.

For those wondering the full scope of the WB schedule of next year, here’s more movies to come:

Warner Bros.’ 2021 release slate also includes Denzel Washington’s thriller “The Little Things,” biographical drama “Judas and the Black Messiah,” a remake of “Tom and Jerry,” “Godzilla vs. Kong,” video game adaptation “Mortal Kombat,” “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” “The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” “Reminiscence,” James Wan’s “Malignant” and sports drama “King Richard.”

Potential hit after potential hit, and you can get them all at home…with the caveat that they’re only on the service for a month…and then they’ll go through the standard home release/after home release shell game until they return to…HBO Max.

This definitely cannot be good news for theaters. I mean, word came today that AMC was going to have to sell even more stock to stay afloat (again), so, unsurprisingly, the CEO of AMC, Adam Aron, hates this news.

“These coronavirus-impacted times are uncharted waters for all of us, which is why AMC signed on to an HBO Max exception to customary practices for one film only, ‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ being released by Warner Brothers at Christmas when the pandemic appears that it will be at its height,” he said. “However, Warner now hopes to do this for all their 2021 theatrical movies, despite the likelihood that with vaccines right around the corner the theatre business is expected to recover.”

Aron said his chain, which operates 659 locations as the largest U.S. exhibitor, is being asked to subsidize HBO Max.

“Clearly, Warner Media intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division, and that of its production partners and filmmakers, to subsidize its HBO Max start up. As for AMC, we will do all in our power to ensure that Warner does not do so at our expense. We will aggressively pursue economic terms that preserve our business. We have already commenced an immediate and urgent dialogue with the leadership of Warner on this subject.”

I’ve got bad news for him. 

Paramount is already selling their movies off — see Borat 2 and Coming 2 America going to Amazon.

And Disney? The crown jewel? They’re “focus[ing] on streaming”, and they’ve got more to announce on December 10th.

Tick-tock, theaters. The future is here. And it may not involve you.

Sony Aims to Help Adults Complete More Games With PS5 Activities

Internal Sony Docs Explain How “Activities” Became a Cornerstone for PS5:

The problem, Sony proposed, was that people don’t have enough information to determine when and how they should play a single player game. Alongside being able to jump around between different quests, Sony’s activity feature would suggest how long it will take to finish a quest, allowing players to find something that fit best with the time they have available.

I had a hunch this was the focus — besides killing off the traffic to walkthrough sites like GameFAQs or video walkthroughs on YouTube, but seeing it spelled out from the internal Sony docs really nails it.

“In an ideal world, every player has the time to spend hours per day, every day, playing games,” reads a slide on top of a photo of a man holding a baby and a cup of coffee. “In reality, most people have jobs. Or kids. Or school. Or all of the above. Often, free time comes wedged between other obligations. An hour before bed. A 30-minute break between homework assignments. A few minutes before your online MP [multiplayer] match.”

I relate to this so hard. We’ve come so far from suggesting that we start making to-do lists for our games, haven’t we?