Last Week’s Episode: Birds and Cats and Pokemon, Oh my!

Last Week's Episode

Or the extended headline: In Which We Have High Hopes for Birds of Prey, I Discuss the Cult Status of Cats, and See Grammy Nominees Drawn as Pokemon Trainers

It’s the season. The season for new shows (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or Shrill anybody?), film festivals, and award shows. Here’s the scoop on what media news WWAC has been talking about the last week.

Movies

The premiere of DC’s first female ensemble film is closely approaching and promotions are in full swing. Comic artist Jen Bartel revealed the super rad sneakers she designed in collaboration with Puma. She has previously created themed shoes with Adidas to celebrate the Captain Marvel Movie and then Thanos inspired kicks for Avenger’s End Game. If she designs something for Nike next, she’ll have completed the sportswear triumvirate. Like the EGOT, but for shoe designers? But seriously, Bartel is really talented. They look awesome.

https://twitter.com/heyjenbartel/status/1220485745489506305

In a recent interview at Nerdist, by fellow WWAC contributor Rosie Knight, star and producer Margot Robbie explains that trying to get the action movie made was its own fight against studio execs who weren’t totally on board at first. Robbie gives fans hope that she’s playing the long game by choosing Birds of Prey rather than Gotham City Sirens because the flexibility of that team would be “the perfect platform to introduce some female characters who might really have some legs in the DC Universe.” I know I have my fingers crossed this movie delivers on its promise and brings in new comic fans plus helps foster the growing interest in female-led action movies. [Nerdist]

Update: According to this adorable Twitter story by former BoP writer Gail Simone, everyone there is trying their damndest.

Speaking of kick-ass female comic book characters, it was finally officially announced that a Captain Marvel sequel was in the works. Megan McDonnell, who is also one of the staff writers for WandaVision, is in negotiations to pen the script that will supposedly take place in modern-day. The potential release date is set for 2022 right now. [THR]

But as we all have experienced before, these release dates are unreliable. Case and point – the Masters of the Universe reboot movie has been bumped by Tom Holland’s Uncharted for 2021 release. It’s possible Sony just wanted to speed up production so as to avoid conflicting with Holland’s next Spider-Man movie. So far there’s no word on whether this means Masters production has halted or will continue just with a later release date. [Deadline]

Photo of actor Daniel Levy looking to the side with thick black plastic glasses.
Credit: Jose Mandojana

On the heels of a SAG nomination, the Human Rights Campaign will honor Daniel Levy with the HRC visibility award. (Janelle Monáe will receive the HRC Equality Award at the same banquet.) It was also recently announced the Schitt’s Creek co-creator and actor was cast in a new gay holiday rom-com called The Happiest Season. Take that Hallmark Channel!  [NewNowNext]

While film festivals are the debutante ball of the movie-making industry, its unsurprising that a recent study found that women, and particularly women of color, were underrepresented. The study found a positive correlation between the number of programmers who were women of color and more diverse directors at that festival. Just like in the Diversity Baseline Survey of the publishing industry that found no change between 2015 and 2019 in diversity, changes need to come from the top down before marginalized creators will finally find equity in entertainment. [Times Up Foundation]

Sundance, currently going on in Utah, was number one in women of color directors and number two in women directors according to the study. There were a few documentaries of interest to comic and cartoon fans debuting at the famous independent film festival.

Originally part of a comic called “Boys Club”, Pepe the Frog has run the gamut from innocent meme to alt-right representative. The documentary Feels Good Man premiered on Monday and explores what it meant to go viral in the days of MySpace. Since then the smirking image of a frog has taken on a life of its own and the film shows creator Matt Furie’s attempts to “put the tube back in the toothpaste” as one reviewer described it. [Sundance]

Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story was shown on January 28. Meant as a documentary focused in part on creator John Kricfalusi, the documentary also featured Robyn Byrd, a former animator and ex-teenaged girlfriend of John K. She and Katie Rice both revealed that John K had groomed and sexually abused them as teens in a blockbuster 2018 Buzzfeed report. Although Robyn Byrd is listed second as a cast member, she had to crowdfund through Twitter to attend the premiere. John K for his part remains unrepentant, reaching through the screen to continue the abuse with a “Call me, Byrd.” According to one reviewer, the documentary “presents the facts” and those facts “overwhelmingly conclude that Kricfalusi became a serial abuser and pedophile.” [Film Threat]

In happier news, “Meowdy” screenings of Cats are helping the cat-tasrophe become the comeback kid of 2020. Rowdy screenings are best described as what would happen if an improv show and a cosplay contest had a baby that yells at the screen. All over America, strangers become lifelong friends after the shared experience of existential crisis that is watching this movie. Some are calling it the next cult classic, but will it be compared to The Room as a bizarre failure somehow allowed to get made or a ridiculous delight like Rocky Horror Picture Show that we’ll enjoy in ritual showings once a year? Only time will tell. I admit to some curiosity after my friend has been to four Alamo Drafthouse rowdy screenings in less than a month. You know what they say about curiosity though… [Vulture]

TV

On the silver screen (or should I say streaming screen?), Paul Bettany promises that WandaVision will be “f**king bonkers”. We wouldn’t expect anything less from a team-up of the two most powerful beings in the Marvel universe. It was announced earlier this year Disney+ has moved up the release date, which is good because I need something to fill the Baby Yoda shaped hole in my heart left by The Mandalorian. Bettany’s video is apparently a teaser of a teaser trailer they’re releasing soon. [Variety]

Elsewhere in the Marvel world, the cast was revealed for M.O.D.O.K. This will be the studio’s first foray into the world of adult animation. May it be more successful then Spider-Man the musical, their attempt at breaking into Broadway. I did hear it’s really hard to make it in show business though. [Marvel]

The Witcher is now the most successful first season show according to Netflix and their questionable metrics. If you’re already wishing for more while we wait for Season 2, the universe has provided with news of Netflix’s ordering an animated feature film of all things. Also, Netflix finally released an official version of “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher” sung by Joey Batey. I’m already partial to the unofficial metal version myself. [Empire] [Official Soundtrack] [Sweet Metal Version]

Before CW said goodbye to The Arrow, the landmark show tried to help launch one more ship in the Arrowverse fleet. Squeezed into the last few episodes was the pilot for a new spin-off show called Green Arrow and the Canaries. Sounds like the name for a good swing band, but the pilot hasn’t been ordered to series yet so it remains to be seen if the CW thinks it can jive with their other shows (loosely) based on DC comics.

While the state of diversity in film and publishing is still concerning, there are some recent advances in short form entertainment to celebrate. Two women are boldly changing the Star Trek franchise: Hanelle Cullpepper became the first black woman to direct an episode of the SF franchise with her work on the Star Trek: Picard pilot and Michelle Yeoh’s spin-off on Section 31 has moved into pre-production. In a moving Time article Asian-American actor Lori Tan Chinn talks about how she almost gave up after losing roles specified for Asian actors multiple times to white peers (including Meryl Streep). Despite the harassment and discrimination, she is now finally getting her due and hailed a “scene-stealing” star as the grandmother in new sitcom Awkwafina is Nora From Queens. The new cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race was revealed last week, but some critics and fans (including a show alumni) have pointed out that the show continues to overlook drag kings as well as trans, nonbinary, and hyperqueens*. If you need some drag in your life while you wait for Drag Race‘s premiere at the end of February, YouTube to Netflix success story Dragula delivers on diversity and challenges preconceived ideas of the artform.

Last, let me leave you with these delightful illustrations of Grammy award outfits. Erica Henderson brings to life the joke that many of the Red Carpet walkers looked like Batman villains. While anime artist Ray imagines four of the nominees as Pokemon trainers.

*Updated 1/31 to correct a term.

Lola Watson

Lola Watson

I'm a community college professor, nerd, and mom who collects comics, knits, and procrastinates a whole host of other hobbies in my lack of spare time. My research focuses on using technology in the classroom, pop culture, children's literature, and comics.
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